Most consumers in Singapore are pretty brand-conscious and would probably not consider alternate brands like Alcatel. And before this review, I would not either. But now I am a convert: the Alcatel Flash 2 is the budget smartphone to get.
It runs smooth and fast
When I took the Flash 2 in for review, I had set my expectation really low, but it exceeds by a wide margin. I could not believe how reliable and fast the Flash 2 performs with a humble 8-core 1.3GHz Mediatek processor. Apps open fast, there are no irritating lags. After 2 weeks, I have not experienced any performance hiccups even though I load most of my regular apps during the review. The battery life is also spectacular, giving me almost 2 days with low usage, or a full day comfortably with heavy social media usage. This is without enabling the “Standby Intelligent Power Saving” mode under the Battery settings.
It takes pictures instantly from standby
When the phone screen is off, and I needed to grab an impulse shot, all I do is to press-and-hold the dedicated shutter button, even without turning on the screen. The Flash 2 camera starts to capture images continuously while I hold the shutter, all this time the screen remains off. Once I release the shutter, the display will turn on to reveal all the shots taken, for me to pick the ones I want to keep. Or I could just keep all of them. Although I am practically shooting blindly, the wide-angle lens manage to capture decent images, better than me completely missing the moment altogether.
This feature is such a game-changer. One odd constraint, though: the feature does not work if the smartphone is not locked, so I had to set the phone to lock immediately in order to make the feature work. This feature is enabled by activating “Quick Shot” from the camera settings.
Speaking of camera, the camera performance is also much appreciated. Once I took a shot, I can review the photo rather fast. This was not the case for many other smartphones, where it would take several seconds for the photos to appear. However, I find that the camera does not pre-focus correctly at times, resulting in slightly out-of-focus images when I press the shutter. I would have to tap the screen to make sure the camera focuses at the correct subject before I press the shutter.
The camera quality is acceptable for general use. Posting on social media is more than adequate. I find myself increasing the highlights during post-processing before publishing the images. You won’t expect to see much resolution details when zooming in. Still, the camera captures colour details correctly even in low light, which is important for post-processing. To set expectations, the Flash 2 camera will not wow you, but you can still get decent images.
There are flash units on both the front and rear, with option to turn on continuous lighting instead of camera-blinding flash effect. Video footages turn out rather nice. Note that to capture in Full HD, set the video quality to “Fine”.
Dual SIM with micro SD slot
Oh yes, you get the works. And in 4G network too! Plus, you can set SD card as storage default under the Storage settings menu, and with that, almost every data is moved to SD card, including Whatsapp, Instagram, Telegram, camera photos and videos. This is fantastic news for those who are paranoid about storing data in the internal memory, because, if the phone dies one day, your data goes with it.
I found out that when I insert a new SIM card, data access is disabled by default. You need to go to Settings -> Data Usage, then enable cellular data. I thought it’s a good move to prevent any sudden data consumption during the initial setup phase.
Premium design with complete accessories
The Flash 2 includes the screen protector and a leather-feel flip case with window, so you don’t have to worry about looking for protective accessories in the market.
And the design is really classy, with chrome highlights all around the body and the texture rear casing for best grip experience. The speaker can be really loud thanks to a sound enhancement setting, but that makes audio sounds too compressed.
It runs on stock Android Lollipop UI
Purists would gleam with joy knowing that Alcatel Flash 2 has none of the heavy customisations that other brands do unto the UI. Whatever you like about Google Android Lollipop look and features are in Alcatel Flash 2.
There are a few add-ons that Alcatel included, like Smart Awake where you can gesture on the screen during standby to activate specific apps. The TouchPal keyboard has a few interesting input methods that might win a few fans. Other pre-installed apps: AVG AntiVirus, Backup and Restore, Click Clear (close unused apps), FM Radio, Notes, Sound Recorder, TouchPal Fun (keyboard app), Videos, zApp (app store).
There are a few features that I find Flash 2 (or Lollipop) not intuitive. For instance, when I set the audio profile to vibrate, it also silenced my alarm. And even when vibrate profile is activated, the soft keys and on-screen actions do not vibrate, and there is no option to activate them.
Would I Buy It?
Yes I would! The Alcatel Flash 2 is a responsive smartphone and for that price, I enjoy using the phone more than some flagship models. I’m generally a sucker for high-spec smartphones because of my demands for a blazing performance. The camera may not produce top quality images compared to other pricier phones, but nonetheless, the Flash 2 amazes me with its overall speed and functionality which meets most of my needs without breaking the bank!
- 5″ HD Display (720×1280)
- Dual SIM 4G LTE
- 3000mAh battery
- 64-bit octa-core 1.3Ghz Cortex-A53 MT6753 Processor
- 2GB LPDDR3 SDRAM
- 16MP internal memory
- micro SD slot up to 128GB
- 13MP Samsung S5K3M2 ISOCELL sensor, ƒ/2.0 aperture and 0.3 seconds Phase Detection Auto Focus
- 5MP Front camera with LED flash
- more tech specs
The Flash 2 (Volcanic Grey) is available at all M1 outlets and Lazada Singapore for S$199. The flip cover and screen protector are bundled as standard in-box accessories.
Product website: http://www.alcatelflash.com/sg/flash-2/
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