With each passing year the mid-range becomes more competitive. Manufacturers are raising the bar and increasingly launch more interesting phones, but also more similar to each other. That is why some manufacturers like Alcatel seek to offer something different , something that attracts attention. This year the French company has surprised us with the Alcatel A5 LED. A terminal that seeks to differentiate itself from the others with a back cover that lights up. If we include a balanced technical set and a price of about 200 euros, we have a very interesting terminal.
At MWC 2017 we had a first contact with the Alcatel A5 LED and it already caught our attention. A mobile with a back cover that lights up when we listen to music or receive a notification. It seemed like a mobile very oriented to a young sector, a public that seeks an acceptable performance with a different touch. Now we have had the opportunity to test it for a few days and we tell you our impressions .
Alcatel A5 LED data sheet
|screen||5.2 inches IPS with HD resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels|
|Main chamber||8 MP, autofocus system, dual-tone flash|
|Camera for selfies||5 MP, fixed focus, front flash|
|Internal memory||16 GB|
|Extension||microSD up to 128GB|
|Processor and RAM||MediaTek MT6753 with eight 1.3 GHz cores, 2 GB RAM|
|Operating system||Android 6.0 Marshmallow|
|Connections||4G LTE cat.4, WiFi 802.11b / g / n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS with A-GPS, Micro USB 2.0|
|Design||Plastic, colors: black|
|Dimensions||146 x 72.1 x 10.2 mm (with LED housing) or 7.7 mm with normal housing|
|Featured Features||Housing with LED lighting|
Rear case with LEDs
The Alcatel A5 LED has something that makes it stand out from the competition. It is not a very powerful processor, not much memory, not even an unusual camera. It is its back cover, which is made up of 35 LEDs that light up with different colors .
This housing is not fixed, we can remove it and replace it with one without lighting that is included with the terminal. We must bear in mind that the case with lighting makes the terminal thicker. Even so, in daily use, this extra thickness has not bothered us too much.
Don't think that this LED housing is always on. It only lights up when we unlock the mobile, receive a notification or play music . In the case of notifications, the case lights up with the color of the application and the letter with which it begins. That is, when we receive a WhatsApp, the entire housing lights up in green and shows a 'W'. If we receive an email, it lights up red and shows an 'M'.
At least that's how it works if we leave the default settings. If we don't like it, we can change it. To configure the lighting, the Alcatel A5 LED includes an application called Light Show . It is a very simple application, which is divided into four main sections.
The first, represented with a musical note, allows us to choose the lighting pattern that the case will show when playing music . We have 10 different patterns, from the typical one that follows the rhythm to, for example, a flame effect.
The second option is represented by a game controller. Here we will have 3 apps that will allow us to experiment with lights . In "Say Hello Now" we will have to shout as much as possible to get more points. In "Create now" we will be able to create our own lighting patterns using colored boxes. The last one, called "Light now", is used precisely to activate the lighting system manually.
The third option is represented by the icon of a camera and we also find it as an individual application. It's called ColorCatcher and it will allow us to capture the color of an image so that the application looks for themes with that color.
Finally we will have the option represented with a bell. In it we can activate and deactivate the system for when we receive notifications, calls or when the alarm sounds . In the upper right we will have three points to enter the settings menu.
Something very curious is that, when we are listening to music, we can switch between the lighting patterns by shaking the terminal . This will allow us to change the LED lights quickly even if the mobile is blocked.
In short, a very curious extra that, the truth, is very well implemented . The applications work perfectly and allow us to 'play' a bit with the lighting system. It is useful? It depends. If we like to have the terminal in silence and we leave it with the screen on the table, it can help us. It can also be useful if we generally do not know where we have left the mobile. Even for older people it could be of use.
Design marked by the back cover
The rest of the design of the Alcatel A5 LED does not attract so much attention. Its plastic construction adds front edges inside the stocking. At the bottom we have three capacitive buttons that light up when you press on them . The side frames are not exaggerated, about 3 millimeters thick.
On the right side of the terminal we have the volume up and down buttons. Just below the power button, which has a rough finish for easy placement . On the opposite side we have nothing. At the top we find the headphone jack and a noise-canceling microphone. While at the bottom we have two grilles and the MicroUSB connector. The left grille is the speaker and the right is the microphone.
The back, as we said, has the LED housing. This one is black, but it sports a pattern of transparent dots that let the lighting through. Something curious is that the case covers the side edges . That is, when removing it we will also remove the side buttons.
As we mentioned before, the LED housing adds weight and thickness to the terminal . The thickness increases up to a centimeter, while with the normal case it stays at about 7.7 millimeters. In short, a design that reminds us a lot of other terminals of the company, such as the Alcatel Pop 4.
Modest technical set
The Alcatel A5 LED keeps a modest technical equipment inside, but it is enough for many users. We have a 5.2-inch screen with HD resolution . The type of panel used is IPS and, in general, it offers good performance. We have only had a small problem when it has given us direct sunlight, despite the fact that the maximum brightness of this mobile is higher than that of other terminals of similar price.
The incorporation of MiraVision technology stands out . This technology improves the quality of the images displayed on the screen, through the possibility of choosing the image mode we want. We have a standard mode, a live mode and a user mode, which we can configure to our liking.
Inside the Alcatel A5 LED we find a MedaTek MT6753 processor with eight cores running at 1.3 GHz . Accompanying this chip we have 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. We can expand this capacity with a microSD card of up to 128 GB. A simple technical set, very similar to what we saw on the Alcatel Shine Lite.
As you can see, on paper they are modest specifications. In real use the terminal has worked fine . The menu moves with agility, like the basic applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter. Yes, we have noticed a bit the lack of power when, for example, starting navigation on Google Maps. Also when opening heavy apps, like a game. Of course, once opened, the applications run correctly.
As we always do, we have run the two most common power tests. In Geekbench the Alcatel A5 LED has obtained 2,520 points in the Multi-Core test and 614 in the Single-Core test. In the AnTuTu test the result was 36,006 points. A result very similar to that obtained by other terminals in the same range, such as the ZTE Blade V8 Lite.
Photographic set for sporadic use
Perhaps one of the words that most defines the Alcatel A5 LED is 'enough'. We could also apply it when talking about the camera. On the back we have an 8 megapixel sensor with f / 2.0 aperture , autofocus system and dual-tone LED flash. Through interpolation we can go up to 13 megapixels, but they will not be 'real'.
How does the camera perform? For the day to day and a sporadic photo is enough. In good light conditions the result is quite decent . What's more, we were pleasantly surprised, since having such low resolution we expected worse results. Of course, we will have the usual overexposure depending on where we focus.
However, as with the vast majority of terminals, in low light conditions we will have problems . The noise is very obvious and a lot of sharpness is lost.
On the front we have a 5 megapixel sensor. The most remarkable thing about this camera is that it includes an LED flash , although this time it is not dual tone. The result of the photos is simply acceptable.
As for the camera application, it is very similar to that of other terminals. It works smoothly, although switching from one mode to another can take a couple of seconds. What has caught our attention the most is the incorporation of an Instant Collage mode . As its name suggests, it allows us to directly create Collage from the Camera application.
The rest of the modes are the usual ones: panoramic, photo and video. Of course, do not expect a manual mode for advanced users . As for the video, we can record with resolution up to Full HD 1080p.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Something that we did not like very much is that the Alcatel A5 LED arrives with Android 6.0 Marshmallow . It is not something strange, really, but if we asked, we would have preferred Android 7 as standard and not have to wait for updates.
Luckily, Alcatel hasn't packed too much bloatware into the A5 LED . We do have a customization layer that changes the system a lot on an aesthetic level, but it is not a problem. Among the apps installed as standard we have those of Google, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and the commented Light Show and ColorCatcher.
Autonomy and connectivity
As we always do when we test a terminal, we have used the Alcatel A5 LED as the main mobile phone for about 15 days. The first day we were a little scared, because by putting up a lot of war installing and configuring apps, the battery quickly depleted. However, the rest of the days he has had normal behavior .
We have used the terminal for navigation, WhatsApp, social networks, some music and some sporadic games. With this use the battery has perfectly endured the whole day . Even if we have been more moderate he has been able to reach a day and a half. As is logical, the more we use the LED housing, the more battery we consume.
As a curious fact, it should be noted that the Alcatel A5 LED has achieved a higher score in the test than the Alcatel Idol 4S, one of the company's high-end terminals.
On the other hand, the Alcatel A5 LED does not have any fast charging system . This means that a full charge can take about three and a half hours. Not recommended if we are in a hurry.
As for connectivity, we have the usual terminals of this price: Bluetooth 4.1, WiFi 802.11n, GPS and 4G. The company has decided to keep the Micro USB port , we understand that to lower costs.
Alcatel launched the A5 LED with a very clear purpose: to appeal to the younger audience. For this, it has used a correct terminal, which does not give problems on a day-to-day basis and which, in addition, has a striking extra. There is no doubt that the case with LED lighting is its great attraction . As we said before, an extra to which we can find some use, but which is still something aesthetic.
For the rest we are facing a humble mobile, but that works correctly in all its aspects . Performance is good for regular use. The camera can be used for sporadic photos or if we are not too demanding. And the autonomy is correct, as long as we do not use the mobile intensively.
However, we cannot finish the analysis without commenting on a very striking absence. And it is that the Alcatel A5 LED does not incorporate a fingerprint reader . It is true that the company has sought to lower costs, but some cheaper mobiles do incorporate it.
In short, we are facing a very balanced terminal with a different touch. As we said at the beginning, the Alcatel A5 LED has a price of around 200 euros . And this, precisely, could be the problem. It is not a high price, but in the market there are more powerful models for the same price, such as the Moto G5. So each user must assess whether they prefer more originality or better technical characteristics.