It was just last year that TCL-owned manufacturer Alcatel launched two entry-level smartphones – the Alcatel 1S and the Alcatel 3L. As both these handsets managed to make it to our highly recommended list of affordable smartphones for 2020, we were interested in what the company had to offer this time around with their successors – both of which were announced at CES 2021.
At CES 2021, Alcatel has simply refreshed its catalogue by retaining the same names as last year. Both the phones go by the same names - the Alcatel 3L and Alcatel 1S - and are priced below €200 ($245). However, the most powerful model, the Alcatel 3L, has undergone a strange downgrade.
The Alcatel 3L retails for €159.99
The Alcatel 3L will be, in 2021, the most expensive and supposedly the most powerful model from the manufacturer - which is not saying much actually. The smartphone runs on the MTK6762D SoC that is manufactured by MediaTek, and features 4 GB RAM and 64 GB of internal storage.
The processor variant with the suffix "D" was still used exclusively in the cheapest model last year and caused performance problems in my review of the Alcatel 1S. It is unfortunate that Alcatel eliminated the small performance advantage and downgraded its supposedly top-performing model this year compared to its predecessor.
Thanks to a micro SD card slot, its memory is expandable up to 512 GB. The smartphone features a 6.52-inch IPS LCD screen with a smaller notch that is known as the Mini-Notch compared to the previous model released in 2020. The resolution has seen a slight increase to 720 x 1600 pixels, but this is due to the slightly larger screen. The 2020 model came with a 6.22-inch screen.
There are some other changes from the previous model in the triple camera module located at the back. Here, Alcatel chose to use a 48-megapixel main camera with phase-detection autofocus. As before, the Alcatel 3L has a depth sensor that acts as a wide-angle sensor with a 90° field of view. However, the resolution has been increased to 5- from 2-megapixels, which corresponds to the resolution of the macro sensor. The new mini notch also incorporates an 8-megapixel front camera, which also works fine without autofocus.
The Alcatel 3L does not record any changes in the battery used. As before, a 4000 mAh battery will keep this device chugging along albeit without a USB-C port, which means there is no quick charge functionality for it. The Alcatel 3L 2021 will be released in the market this March in Europe and costs just €159.99. By default, the smartphone comes with Android 11 right out of the box.
The Alcatel 1S is going for €129.99
With a recommended retail price of €129.99 ($159), the Alcatel 1S is also the cheapest model in the Alcatel range this year. The phone is equipped with the same MediaTek MTK6762D SoC as last year but has 3 GB RAM and 32 GB of internal storage. Again, you can have up to 512 GB of storage space thanks to the presence of a micro SD memory card slot.
In terms of display size, the two smartphones do not differ. Here too, a 6.52-inch IPS LCD panel with a resolution of 720 x 1600 pixels is used, and the battery used is also the same. Like the Alcatel 3L, the Alcatel 1S offers a 4,000 mAh battery.
However, there are obvious differences in the camera module, as was the case in 2020. The Alcatel 1S has a triple camera setup with a maximum resolution of 13 megapixels. In addition, there is a 2-megapixel depth sensor and a 2-megapixel macro sensor. The depth sensor, however, has a slightly less wide-angle capability compared to the 3L, with an 87.3-degree field-of-view.
Like the 3L, the Alcatel 1S also comes with Android 11 and will be available in February 2021 in the Elegant Black and Twilight Blue colour variants. As mentioned previously, the price of €129.99 makes it roughly equivalent to that of its 2020 predecessor.
What do you think of these two entry-level smartphones? Is a smartphone that retails for less than €200 but comes with Android 11 by default worth the technical shortcomings that come with it? Let us know in the comments!