Phones are getting thinner and bigger. By today’s standards, any phone thicker than 7mm or any display smaller than 5 inches is considered a thing of the past. Problem is, thinner and bigger phones tend to slip off the hands and smack right into the pavement. They’re uncomfortable and become a nuisance instead. The Alcatel Flash 2 is big, yes, but it has a weight that’s proportional to its size. We took it to its paces and tested out what this hefty phone packs inside.
We previously did a quick review of the unit in an event organized by Lazada (LINK). Here’s a recap of the Alcatel Flash 2:
- 1.3GHz Octa Core Mediatek MK6753 processor
- Mali T760 graphics
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB internal storage expandable via MicroSD up to 128GB
- 5-inch HD IPS LCD display (1280 x 720 pixels)
- 13 megapixel rear facing camera with autofocus and dual LED flash, f/2.0 aperture
- 5 megapixel front facing camera with LED flash
- Dual SIM, Dual Standby
- 4G/LTE, 3G/HSPA+, WiFi, Bluetooth
- GPS, A-GPS
- 3,000 mAh battery
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
- SRP: P6,190
- Buy from Lazada
HARDWARE AND DESIGN
The Flash 2’s main design feature is its non-slip, mark-free back cover. The back is curved to fit any hand, and the finish feels like sandpaper. This helps the phone to not slip and fall even with its heavier body weight plus it keeps the phone free from fingerprints. However, the back isn’t safe from oil. At its front, the phone is 70% screen giving the Flash 2 a bigger display in a smaller body. This also means that one handed use isn’t going to be a problem for people of average hands. The front design reminds me of the design of Nokia’s X series from 2011 because of the curved metallic finished top and bottom bezels, but the resemblance ends there.
When the screen is turned off, all you see at the front is the green capacitive home button. The back and multitasking capacitive buttons on its left and right sides respectively light up when the home button is tapped.
There’s just one thing about the design that would probably annoy some people. The rear camera protrudes from the back case. This means that the phone can’t lie flat on a surface. If you love typing with 2 fingers while your phone lays on the table, the experience will wobbly. This also exposes the camera lens to scratches and cracking. Probably, the best thing to do is to use the faux leather case that comes with the package.
The display is one of the features where the phone had to cut back. It’s only a 720p display, but its nevertheless useable. As Alcatel is now owned by TLC (the TV maker) the display is of great quality despite the lower resolution. This makes it not much of a compromise at all. It also helps that the screen is only at 5 inches, giving the phone a PPI of 294 that’s sharp enough for normal daily use and entertainment. Videos look crisp, photos don’t look pixelated. Besides, you’ll only notice the pixels if you really look for them. This lower resolution also helps extend the battery life as there are less pixels to power. The IPS panel helps give it a wider viewing angle. Although at its limit, colors start to distort and the display starts to look really blue. That’s a problem if you’re sharing media with someone, but you mostly use your phone alone, so why bother?
If you’re not happy with the display’s color, you can even adjust it with the built-in MiraVision display engine software. There, you can tweak settings such as contrast, saturation, sharpness and color temperature, much like how you would on your TV. This can be accessed in the Display Settings of the device.
SOFTWARE AND PERFORMANCE
The Flash 2 runs Android Lollipop 5.1. Definitely not the latest, but the the device runs a version that’s nearly stock with very minor skinning. Even bloatwares are absent in the device, giving you a cleaner experience. The 2GB RAM and the 64-bit Mediatek octa-core processor help hand-in-hand in making the device even faster. Apps load quick, multitasking is a breeze, and webpages and apps don’t need to reload if ever you choose to switch apps then go back.
In my 2 weeks of daily use, I never experienced an app crash. I guess with today’s phone specs even for mid-range phones like the Flash 2, app crashes are a thing of the past.
Gaming is a bliss on the Flash 2, as well. Games like Dead Trigger 2 do not lag, and the graphics, although not the best, is pushed to its optimum with the help of the Mali T760 graphics chip. Like other apps, the game loads up quick.
Benchmarks like Antutu and Geekbench show scores that aren’t that mindblowing nor jaw-dropping, but in the case of the Flash 2, it didn’t need to be all those. Its fast, smooth and flawless real world performance makes it impressive enough. Most importantly, the unit doesn’t heat up under intense situations. This is proof of how well the processor and everything else in the phone will handle the demands of power users.
Alcatel aims to hype up the Flash 2’s camera with something called Mobigraphy or mobile photography. By coining a term that they wish to own and be associated with, Alcatel is trying to prove something.
The 13MP and 5MP cameras are capable of fun features like panorama, multi-angle modes, live photo, movement tracking and even a super fine mode. All of these are made possible by Alcatel’s own camera app. It’s rear camera has an aperture of f2.0 and boasts of autofocus as fast as 0.3 seconds. These mean better low light perfomance and never missing a moment, respectively. It can also take up to 99 photos in burst mode and can choose the best among those which were taken. Like that with other phones, it also lets you easily delete those which you don’t need.
Both the front and the back cameras are supported by a flash. The rear has what Alcatel calls a RealTone flash. It’s basically the same as Apple’s Two-Tone flash with amber and white LEDs for better, more natural skin tones. To make Mobigraph even easier, the phone has a dedicated shutter button at the lower right side. Long pressing it from anywhere on the phone launches the native camera app, unless you have other apps that use the camera.
Here are sample photos taken with the phone’s rear camera.
The Flash 2 has 2 SIM slots that both support LTE connectivity. It’s a great feature for a mid-range phone. Besides, since networks are strengthening their LTE services, don’t you think it’s time for newer phones to support it? Call quality is also great, and they sound clear from both ends.
The Flash 2 has a 3000mAh battery and this is the reason why the phone has so much heft. With a lower res screen and an energy efficient processor, this battery allows the battery to last a full day, most of the time still with power to spare. Also, if you ever run out of juice, the unit charges really quick. Alcatel didn’t mention anything about a quick charging feature, but the unit definitely feels like it has one. Charging from 10% to 100% only takes less than 2 hours. This is fairly impressive given how big the battery of the phone is and how long it lasts.
As you would know, I love using phones as a portable hotspot, and the Flash 2 can withstand heavy hotspot use. Unfortunately, the battery is built right into the phone so you can’t swap it out for another in case you’re on the road or somewhere without power.
There are reasons to not like the Alcatel Flash 2, but not as much as the reasons to love it. With a solid battery life, user-friendly design, near stock Android software, a fluid performance and some camera tricks on the side, this is definitely a phone to consider. Priced at P6,190, it’s a tough decision not to purchase it, especially given all the things it can do. We bought one just for this review, but we just might keep it for ourselves.