Alcatel is well known for its budget handsets, and it has a solid reputation in that market. Its latest effort comes with an Android-toting device that sports a full QWERTY keyboard slider akin to the RIM’s Blackberry torch. Unfortunately, the similarity between these devices ends there.
Alcatel’s OT-980 presents itself with a 2.8 inch resistive touchscreen with a resolution of 240 by 320 pixels which, for me, kills the potential of this promising device. (Resistive vs. Capacitive touchscreen, what’s the big deal?) The 2.8-inch display also looks awfully small with its beefy frame.
It is a portrait format slider that is surprisingly sturdy and comfortable to use despite its cheap appearance. The rounded casing allows it to sit snugly in the palm, even when the keyboard is exposed. The front panel housing the touchscreen and the back panel is made of rubberized plastic which gives the device a nice feel to it.
Below the touchscreen display is the home button in the middle with the call and menu button on its left, and the back and end call button on its right. On the right side of the device you will find the 3.55mm earphone jack, the volume rocker and the micro USB port for charging and data transfer. At the top of the back panel is the 2 megapixel camera capable of shooting VGA and QVGA quality pictures and videos. Beside it is the phone’s speaker.
Sliding the device, you will find the phones QWERTY keyboard which is fairly spaced and easy to use for people who doesn’t have super chunky fingers. The QWERTY keyboard will be your main tool for text input in this device since you will find using the onscreen keyboard on a device with such a small screen real estate coupled with the resistive screen to be annoying.
Alcatel’s OT-980 runs on a 600MHz CPU and sports Android 2.1 albeit with a few changes most noticeable is its application drawer which is reminiscent of Android’s Donut build, 1.6. Aside from this, most of its UI elements are vanilla Android from the notification bar and the presence of a number of home screens.
The device comes preloaded with a number of apps most of which are free like Ringdroid, Twidroyd and Shazam to name a few. What irritates me though is the fact that I always manage to accidentally launch applications when scrolling through the application drawer or swiping my fingers from different homescreens. This can definitely be attributed to the device’s resistive touchscreen.
Browsing with the OT-980 is a hit or miss kind of experience. For one, you are presented with an efficient and quick way to enter text via the physical keyboard, but then, the absence of multi-touch capabilities and the small resolution of the screen somehow negates it. Add to that the bane of its touchscreen’s resistive nature; you will sometimes accidentally click on a link when flicking on the screen.
A word of caution here if you like to play games on phones, some games won’t give you a nice experience when using a resistive touchscreen so you’re only limited to a handful of casual games that doesn’t involve a lot of swiping.
Other than the resistive touchscreen which I cannot somehow get used to, it’s a very decent phone with all the usual basic multimedia capabilities, Bluetooth 2.0 and GPS. The physical keyboard surely helps in composing long messages which is a plus.
In conclusion, Alcatel’s OT-980 is not a bad choice if you want to dabble into Android. Despite its shortcomings, the novelty provided by its physical keyboard will cater to a set of audience who finds it difficult to use on-screen keyboards. As it is, the OT-980 is not that bad considering its cheap price and unique nature provided you are comfortable in using a resistive touchscreen. This is by far the cheapest Android phone with a slider keyboard so if budget and physical keyboard are important to you, give the Alcatel OT-980 a look.
|Alcatel’s OT-980 Specs:|
|2.82″ resistive display (240×324 pixels, 256K colors)|
|Android 2.1 OS Eclair|
|194MB internal memory; up to 32GB expandable via microSD|
|WiFi 802.11 b/g|
|Bluetooth 2.0 w/ A2DP|
|2MP camera, VGA video recording|
|GPS w/ aGPS support|