Alcatel 1S (2021)

What is it?

It’s a super-cheap 4G smartphone from Alcatel. There’s a measly 14GB free from the 32GB of internal storage, but this can be extended with a micro-SD card.

It has a big 6.5-inch LCD screen and 4,000mAh battery. The camera set up involves a 13Mp wide, 2Mp macro and 2Mp depth lens on the back, plus a 5Mp wide lens selfie camera.

The ‘Kids Mode’ lets parents set restrictions on screen time and access to certain apps.

There’s no NFC, so you can’t make contactless payments. There is a headphone jack, fingerprint and face scanner though.

What’s it like to use?

We’re not a fan of the display. Its low resolution and bluish colours make it look quite cheap, plus it shows up fingerprints easily and isn’t easy to read unless you’re face onto it.

The manual is buried in the settings and needs to be downloaded, but it’s at least helpful once you’ve found it. The menu could be more clearly laid out, but it shouldn’t cause too much of a problem, and the touchscreen at least responds well to your touch.

The processor is quite basic, but it does the job. You won’t have the smoothest experience on a gaming app, but it manages basic scrolling without too much slowing or jittering.

Both the face scanner and fingerprint sensor on the back do a decent job of unlocking the phone.

Call clarity isn’t bad, though you might struggle to hear and be heard when you ring from a noisy environment.

How long does the battery last?

Full charge battery life is excellent, giving you 30.5 hours (or 34.5 if you turn the brightness down).

It charges really slowly though, taking two hours and 15 minutes to reach 100%. Because of this, the short charge battery life is poor, with the phone only lasting four hours after it’s been charged for 15 minutes.

How good are the cameras?

Pretty poor. We don’t mind portraits taken on the rear lenses, and they pick up some detail in daylight, but overall images end up milky with unbalanced contrast, and the zoom is rubbish too, leaving photos grainy and blurred.

The selfie camera is worse. You don’t get much detail, unless you shoot in bright light, and though colours can sometimes look nice, mostly they end up pale with a strange tint across the picture.

Videos on both the front and rear lenses lack image stabilisation, so the clips move and shake around a lot. Rear camera videos have uneven contrast and random brightness changes but front camera clips are worse, due to the low resolution they’re shot in.

Is there anything else I should know?

The tinny, sharp and unbalanced sound from the speakers won’t do your music justice at all.

It’s not waterproof, but it should work fine after being caught in the rain (once the speaker and mic have dried off). The screen is scratch-resistant too.

Should I buy it?

No. It’s cheap for a reason and 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.