Thursday, July 26, 2007

Review GSM phone Alcatel E256


  • Handset
  • Charger
  • Manual

The company of Alcatel focused on making cheap models and that is why its model line grew considerably. We all remember Alcatel E252, and now let us introduce its variant designed as a clamshell - Alcatel E256. This handset is equipped with an internal antenna, which is untypical of such clamshells, however adds to its charm much. The model doesn't stand out for its design, it is rather calm, which is typical of low-end solutions.

The external screen is absent; although it is compensated with three indicators placed in a vertical line - network, call, message. The network indicator blinks every 5 seconds telling the phone is within a coverage zone. At incoming call you will see the icon picturing a handset activate and an envelope will blink at incoming message. That seems quite convenient and definitely with taste.

The phone's size is the following: 83x43x22 mm, while the weight forms 85 grams. This handset is not big; carry it any way you like. And representatives of the fair sex will also find no trouble opening the device - phone parts are easy to hock with your nails. Although the same operation will take some effort of men, as the absence of guiding rails appears uncomfortable.

Side buttons are not foreseen, the bottom end features an earphone connector and a charger hole nearby.

Opening the phone, you see a plastic keypad. Number keys are right-angled and well-distanced; their green backlighting is seen well in the dark.

The buttons are little projecting, however turn out enough comfortable, though I noticed some carelessness in their design. That may be due to dark silvery plastic. The navigation button is replaced with a swing button, which calls Phonebook or Messages in the standby mode.

The display integrated into the model is STN showing 4096 colours. Its resolution equals 102x80 pixels, which allows up to 4 text lines and one service line. The screen quite matches the low-end segment demands, here models of the first generation are still sold much (for instance, Motorola C350 with a similar display). You will see this screen fades in the sun, however due to the font-size it remains readable.

The back cover hides a battery compartment and slides horizontally. A 650 mAh Li-Ion battery is integrated into the phone, in Moscow the battery fully charged lasted for averagely 4 days in case of 20 minutes of talks and up to 20 minutes of other functions a day. Full recharging takes about 2 hours.


The main menu is a vertical list, and each item is a small icon with a tip. Four items are seen at once. Submenus are also vertical lists, and three subitems are seen on the screen, since a section name takes the upper line.

Pressing a left functional key in the standby mode calls the main menu. Pressing up or down in the standby mode, you'll go to Messages or Phonebook correspondingly.

Localization is carried out well, still abbreviations happen, but that is due to a small screen. The only drawback is Russian fonts are thinner than English, and that's why information is worse read. You can not only use Russian and English T9 dictionaries, but add personal words to it.

Phonebook. Up to 255 numbers may be stored in the phone's memory. Only one phone number may be assigned to a contact. Search by a number of a group is at your disposal. There are 6 groups completely adjusted by a user, personal name, call melody and SMS alert are possible for each group. Contacts may be shown altogether (both from the internal memory and SIM) or separately.

Phonebook capabilities are minimal. But it should be enough for a user with few contacts. The thing that disappointed is there is no search by name, all the contacts are to thumb through one after another, and if there are more than 50 contacts, it gets problematic.

Messages. The phone offers no EMS support, and all the SMS are stored on a SIM. Positive points are group SMS and a capability to send a text message to e-mail address (if the function is provided by your operator), besides, you can change all the 8 templates as you like.

Melodies. Here you can select a call type. That can be only a melody, only vibra, vibra with a melody at the same time, vibra then a melody, or vibra - melody and a silent mode. Also here you can set call signal volume (5 levels), set an incoming call melody, SMS signal and other sounds.

Screen. Here you can select one of the two headbands shown at phone on and off, and also adjust contrast. Besides, you can set one of the colour schemes for menu, and select a wall-paper for the main screen.

Settings. Date and time is set from here, also choose a menu language, set the time for automatic phone on and off. And here is a T9 dictionary, where you can add words.

Call service. Here are all the network settings.

Games. There are 2 games in the phone; they are Russia (a widely known Tetris) and Bricks (also very famous acranoid).

Tools. There are 4 alarm clocks with only time set for each. They work with the phone off. Also besides alarm clocks there is a plain calculator.


There is a slight cavil on the connection quality. When the device was in poor coverage zones, it was almost impossible to call right till the phone is answered. In sure reception zones the device behaved well. The loudspeaker volume is average, and you'll hardly hear your interlocutor in a very crowded street. 16-tones polyphony is claimed, though it more resembles a 4-tones one. The power of a vibra is low, it may be missed sometimes.

The handset is a complete copy of Alcatel OT E252, though designed as a clamshell. An original peculiarity is external indicators, also they are comfortable. A disadvantage is the back cover badly fitting the body, which causes creaks in hands. That seems the model is not outstanding with anything, perhaps only with the appearance. A good price of 85-90 USD for a clamshell with an integrated antenna. Nokia 2650 is very close in construction, however costs 15-20 USD more. The Alcatel's solution is for people who needs only basic functions, but wants to distinguish in some way. The target group seems to be rather small, but still exists.

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