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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Review GSM phone Alcatel OneTouch C651

Package:

  • Handset
  • Charger
  • Manual

Alcatel has not spoiled its worshipers with many models in a clamshell form-factor and many people have connected the announcement of several such models in Cannes with the start of working with TCL. Truly, the first wave of the products in this factor was planned and developed by Alcatel and the C651 is the first phone by the company in this segment ( a new model, the Alcatel 835 differs from other models in some functions). The manufacturers want a well proven way and turned a widely known Alcatel 756/757 into a model of another form-factor. The designers applied some unusual changes to make the device stick in user's memory.

The size of the phone is typical for this class at 90x48x23.5 mm, while weighing 93 grams. Its external screen is placed in a unique angle of 45 degrees and has the usual horizontal orientation but not vertical. At first sight this placement seems uncomfortable, but actually rouses no problems or irritations while using. The display is two-sided (96x25 pixels), one line are icons and the other one shows the time and date or a number (a name) of a caller. The screen is inversion and that means white letters on a black background that looks quite pleasant. A user may set animations represented with moving squares and resembling an equalizer besides a standard headband. All the characters are well seen even with the backlighting off. The minus of the screen is its lag effect or such realization of animation with a call. The resolution of the screen allows showing 10 numbers while phone numbers consist of 11. The numbers are constantly scrolled and that makes a feeling of a merged motion. The same effect appears when scrolling a name on the external screen.

When working with a headset the external screen shows a list of 20 calls. That is quite comfortable and allows viewing the list without opening the device. This functionality won't be needed in some situations.

The device is equipped with interchangeable panels similar to the ones used in the Sony Ericsson Z600 (in the organization and not dimensions, of course). The upper panel is easy to take off and the back one being a cover at the same time is also not difficult to take off. The panels show no backlash and the construction is quite reliable. One extra set is included into the package besides the preset ones. A standard kit is probable to combine two colours, one calm and a more vivid one (grey and red, for instance). It won't be any trouble picking up some extra panels later.

There are no control elements besides a side volume button outside. A headset connector closed with a rubber shutter and a charger connector are placed on the top of the phone. An IrDA port is near and it is fully functional here. A VGA-camera and a mirror are placed on the back splay. This position is a compromise, since while shooting you can cover the objective with your fingers.

The upper part of the clamshell is smaller than the bottom one, which is unusual. In the first minutes of using the device you can have an illusory feeling of discomfort. Though everyday using proves the opposite. Opening the device is possible with any hand and the device rouses no tearing away by this parameter.

The internal screen is similar to the one in Alcatel 756/757, but the manufacturer claims 65 K here. We have written that the change of the Alcatel 756 (from 65K to 262K) specs in the last moment was dictated by marketing reasons and not a real change of the characteristics. This model proves those words; the manufacturer realized that the race for the number of colors shown will lead to a dead end. The quality of the picture is good; especially those that concern the preset images and the interface of the phone. The screen resolution is 128x160 pixels (28x36 mm) and it may hold up to 9 lines and four of them are service ones. The STN screen fades in the sun, but the information is still readable.

The keypad is made of plastic and the navi button has an Ok one inscribed. Just before the very launch it was decided to replace the camera button with a C one. Some users accidentally pressed C that led to leaving the necessary item. The keypad is average in comfort with no real problems. The backlighting is green, not very bright and doesn't fade the characters in the bright sun.

The battery is 650-mAh Li-Ion. According to the manufacturer it is capable of working for up to 290 hours in the standby mode and up to 4.5 hours in the talk mode. In Moscow the deviceworked for about 2 days with 35 minutes of talking and up to 20 minutes of using other functions. The battery life should be considered equal to 2 days, since it works more only with significantly less talks. Full recharging takes about 1.5 hours.

Menu

The software was inherited from the ОТ 756 with no changes. The main menu may be represented in three variants. The first one shows three icons, the selected one is animated and placed in the centre. The second variant represents only one colorful static picture. The third way shows all the menu items as small icons, with three rows of fours icons in each. The second variant looks the most colorful; the pictures are well drawn and in other cases the menu images are not as good.

The device has 4 MB of dynamic memory shared among all the applications when necessary. Fast navigation using number series is present, tags may be assigned to functions, and then they will be available by one touch.

The functions are represented as lists in submenus and, by the way, gathered in groups. It is better to explain using the example of Messages. On entering the menu you see a row of icons with Create a message distinguished on top. You can choose a message type from a list by just moving the joystick horizontally to see received or sent messages and another list will appear. At first sight this organization looks quite complicated, but it is fast easy to get used to, it is logical and helps relieving the menu, thus there are no conglomerations of items opposite to other manufacturers. In general the organization of the menu impressed well, they are all thought over. There is a special bookmark for images in a library and the one for icons.

Unfortunately, the localization remained the same. Russian characters became clearer, but the Cyrillic inscription greatly differs from the English one. Russian letters are light and thin and the font is hard to make out. The combination of Russian and English looks weird because of the difference in the characters' drawing. This model is one of the last with such a disadvantage, later the company plans to redesign all the fonts for Russian language and make them of a uniform style.

Phone book. The phone's memory is divided into several directories. There is a separate directory for the contacts kept on the SIM-card, in addition to that, there exist three more folders by default-a General, a Business and a Personal one. The user can create directories of his/her own; they serve as different groups of users in this phone. You can assign a call melody to some of the folders; however, you cannot do it for single files.

Up to 26 fields may be filled for a name, they are Name, Surname, up to 7 numbers, two e-mail addresses, home page URL, Nickname, Birth date, Company name, Position, Address, City, Region, Post index, Country, a field with notes and up to 4 fields with extra information. The only drawback is when entering a new contact you'll have to scroll all the fields gradually to reach the necessary one, you can't do it at once. Voice marks may be assigned to separate entries, and then voice dialing is possible for those names. There is a search by the first letter of a name.

It is possible to assign a picture or a video clip from preset ones or loadable ones to every entry in the phone. The phone supports work with files of: JPG, GIF, aGIF, PNG, BMP and WBMP standards. Video standards supported are 3gp (H263/AMR, MPEG4) and .mp4.

There is no limitation on the number of entries, everything depends on the free space.

Messages. Besides working with SMS, the device also supports MMS and EMS standards. Working with all the message types is ordinary and rouses no problems. You can add smiles, pictures, melodies and/or wap-browser tags into the body of a message. Several slides are possible to create for MMS, the capacity limit forms 100 KB. A message may be sent to a single user or a group. There are Russian and English T9.

Personalization. Almost everything concerning the phone settings is here. Choose a melody, a call type, adjust the menu appearance, set a picture for the main screen, adjust "hot" keys etc. You can set vibra only, vibra and a melody at once or vibra then a melody. In short, there are many signal type settings that will be up to you.

You can set a picture or a video for the screen, choose the way the main menu is represented and set color schemes. An interesting function is Atmosphere (a set of pictures, interface color scheme and a melody). While viewing, you not only see the design but hear a call melody selected, and of course, nothing prevents from doing it all separately.

Call log. A list of calls - missed, incoming and outgoing. Everything concerning voice dialing is also here.

Fast access. Create a personal menu for accessing the necessary menu items, phone book contacts and Internet addresses.

Tools. This menu holds an organizer. You can view either weekly or monthly or in a list that shows all planned events. The monthly view is quite handy as events are divided by dates, for instance, 14.03-20.03, 21.03-27.03 etc. The events are the following - a meeting (date, time on and off and text note), a birthday (date and name) and a call (there are also reminders which has priority and time off).

Two alarm clocks are present. One is set for a precise date and another one is everyday. A timer is also here.

A plain calculator and a currency converter are present.

You can create a personal melody by notes or record it on a Dictaphone from an external source. The limit is 60 seconds.

Voice commands are assigned to a necessary menu item.

In the Signal item a list of meetings, notes with a signal assigned and an alarm clock are shown.

Here you can activate IrDA.

Tips & tricks. Holds pieces of advice for work with the phone.

Services. Provides an access to SIM menu and WAP - to My One Touch site.

WAP. The browser in the phone is of 2.0 version, there are no particularities here.

Games. The phone is equipped with two games, one of them being SpeedDevils and the other one GylosTale. You can download new games (only using the wap).

Multimedia Album. All the pictures and melodies are here. The range of the pictures and melodies is very large and in this sense, the phone is great. The selection of droll and funny pictures is such that you just do not know where to start choosing from. Several funny video clips are also preset in the phone.

Camera. The pictures can be taken in the resolution of 640x480, 352x288, 128x128, 64x64, 32x32 and 16x16 pixels. There is a big scale shooting mode offered for which the image is scratched horizontally. In any case, the picture format is JPEG and there are three different dimensions and quality types available (high, standard and economy).

The phone's display is used as a viewfinder. The interface has been thought through in all the details so while shooting you can change almost every image parameter with several presses. The function of the number keys 1, 2, and 3 is to tune in the quality of the required size of the screen. The left soft key is there for the color choice (color picture, white and black, Sepia, Negative, Thin or contours).

With the # key you can quickly switch the picture resolutions, while the * key offers a set of several special modes. One of the modes is the option to create a GIF file using four shots. This means that you take four sequential shots, which then immediately turn into an animation in your phone. One restriction here is the resolution of 128x128 pixels that the developers found mostly convenient to save memory. The function is truly unique and adds to the phone's exclusivity especially since other manufacturers have nothing similar to offer yet.

Another special shooting mode is the mosaic. This mode allows you to take four pictures (32x32 pixels) and then pleat them into one complete image (128x128).

The phone is equipped with a timer for the shooting with a delay. I am not to judge how necessary this function is but I find the Exposure setting more interesting. This function controls the lighting conditions by default although you can identify them yourself. In most cases, the automatic Exposure is sufficient.

You can choose the folders where the pictures will be saved and can be taken out of for the MMS screen savers, by default.

I forgot to mention that you can use the frames for the pictures with the resolution of 128x128 pixels. This is a sort of an effect when you border the picture with a frame while shooting. Another exceptional feature of the phone is that you can download the frames' files (PNG format) from PC, which means that you can create the special effects of your own. Nophone has a similar function although the frames are used in many of them.

The phone is also empowered with a digital eight times zoom that you can activate by moving the joystick away from you. The zoom function is followed with a sound resembling the one the objective in digital cameras produces when moving - sounds rather funny.

The pictures look not bad on the phone screen and quite acceptable on a PC. The only disadvantage is that the corners are degraded.

Sample photo outdoors, 640x480, 55.1 KB, JPEG
Sample photo outdoors, 640x480, 40.7 KB, JPEG
Sample photo outdoors, 640x480, 42.3 KB, JPEG

Sample photo with effects in an archive, ZIP, 139 KB>>>

Sample photo with enlargement in an archive, ZIP, 262 KB>>>

The video is recorded in 3GP format with a limitation of 93 KB or 9 seconds for MMS messages. You can also record video with no limitations, to be precise, until the memory is empty.

Sample video (3GP, 298 KB)
Sample video (3GP, 93.7 KB)

Video clips are shown not full screen, slight slow down is observed when playing them, probably, the processor can't cope with this load. Though the clips are of a normal quality.

Impressions

The model is a complete copy of the Alcatel 756 and that is why I'll let myself repeat the conclusions made for that model. The device has no problems with the connection quality and the loudspeaker volume and microphone sensitivity are enough for a conversation in any condition, either in an office or on a noisy street. The signal volume is enough and it is heard well even from under winter clothes. The vibra signal is average in power and may be missed. The speakerphone function is on a high level.

Mp3 files are not supported, only midi, SMAF and wav-files. The lack of mp3's doesn't look logical in the phone and cuts the functionality. The 40-tone polyphony sounds typical for a segment. An unhappy opening angle may be called a disadvantage of the Alcatel C651, the microphone catches all the external sounds in the wind and your caller hears you badly. The smaller battery capacity shortens the battery life but it is not a very serious minus. The model is in the same segment as the Siemens CFX65, Motorola v220 and it is quite well taken and can compete with the models. The device will be interesting with a price of 180 USD and appearing on the market in the end of April, though low brand popularity will attract a little attention to the device. The device is good for youth and school children, making no serious problems since using time-proven solutions. Indicating an STN-screen in the specs seems a mistake, since visual comparison with the Alcatel 756 showed no differences, the screens are identical.

Melody samples (288 KB, mp3)

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