Alcatel 1S (2020)

What is it?

A promising-looking smartphone from Alcatel.

The brand makes a headline out of the phone’s 6.22-inch HD+ display (1,520 x 720 pixels). 6.22 inches is fairly standard for phones over the past couple of years, though a little small by 2020’s standards.

The 1S (2020) has a triple rear camera, a rarity on Alcatel smartphones. A 13Mp wide-angle leads the pack, followed by a 5Mp ultra-wide angle lens and a 2Mp macro camera. There is a 5Mp wide-angle lens for all your selfie needs.

The phone has a 4,000mAh battery, the MediaTek MT6762D chipset (a popular choice in cheap mobile phones) and a very modest 3GB of Ram. You’ll have 128GB of storage to use.

What’s it like to use?

Quite easy.

The setup processor is fault-free for the most part, though the full manual is a bit hard to find – it can be downloaded via the phone’s settings menu. Once you’ve got the 1S (2020) set up, menus are put together logically so you shouldn’t have issues getting around it. We did find the camera app isn’t very intuitive. Its menu is limited and to access basic functions such as the wide-angle lens, there’s a separate mode. That said, these aren’t deal breakers.

The phone’s HD+ display is low resolution compared with most smartphones on the market right now – not surprising given its price. Nevertheless, the touchscreen is responsive and has sufficient brightness to be readable under bright light.

The Achilles heel of most cheap mobile phones is their processor. The 1S (2020) falls into the category of smartphones with a decent-enough processor to use your average app but you may face delay if you try to do any resource-intensive tasks.

You’ll find a fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone and a face scanner, which we’re pleased to see at this price. The fingerprint scanner works well but the face scanner isn’t very resilient in dark settings or when you’ve got glasses on, for example.

One of the 1S (2020)’s standout features is its dedicated Google Assistant button. For those who shout out ‘Hey Google’ for their every need throughout the day, using Google’s virtual assistant will be even easier – simply press the button on the left-hand side of the phone.

How long does the battery last?

You’ll have to wait three hours 15 minutes before it gets to 100% capacity. Once fully charged, the battery lasts for 38 hours of typical use, including watching videos and taking pictures.

You’d do best to make sure you fully charge the Alcatel 1S (2020) before you head out, because with a 15-minute charging burst, you only get a pitiful 8%. As you might have guessed, that won’t get you very far – only enough to last for three hours.

How good are the cameras?

Photos taken with the rear camera don’t have much fine detail at all during the day and it's almost impossible in low light. The phone comes without night mode so it’s already at a disadvantage. With and without flash, pictures look blurred, although they’re slightly better without it.

The front camera fails to get good photos in bright light so you’ll have a lot of trouble doing so when it gets darker out. We tried to take photos without the flash turned on and the test shots came out dark and blurry so be sure to make use of the flash if you’re in dark environments.

Despite having electronic image stabilisation, the 1S (2020) isn’t able to record stable videos. As well as being shaky on both the front and back cameras, contrast and colours aren’t good in videos either.

Is there anything I should watch out for?

Have a good set of headphones at the ready because this phone’s external speaker leaves a lot to be desired. Music played aloud sounds thin and tinny without no bass.

In a world where mobile payments are now the norm, it’s a shame the Alcatel 1S (2020) doesn’t allow NFC mobile payments.

Is there anything else I should know?

Some of the features you get with the 1S (2020) are dual Sim (so you can have two separate Sim profiles on the phone at once) and internal memory expansion (with a micro-SD card of up to 128GB).

Should I buy it?

Unfortunately, due to the age of this phone and the brand’s update policies, we suspect it will stop receiving important security updates in less than a year, so we can’t recommend that you buy. Find out more in our guide to mobile phone security.