• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

While top-end phones like the iPhone X are pushing prices ever higher, at the bottom end smartphones are cheaper than they’ve ever been, and the Alcatel Pixi 3 is a prime example.

Costing roughly £30 SIM free or from around £7 per month on contract with no upfront cost this is ten times cheaper than even most mid-range phones, yet it runs Android.

Of course, you’re not going to get high-end specs for that money, but does the Alcatel Pixi 3 do enough, or can you get a much better phone for not much more money?

Screen

The Alcatel Pixi 3 has a 3.5-inch 320 x 480 screen with a pixel density of 165 pixels per inch. That’s not very sharp and shows noticeable pixelation even at such a small size, but it’s perfectly useable and more than adequate if you aren’t glued to your phone all day.

Being TFT the screen isn’t especially high-quality either, but the size could be beneficial to some users. While we’re generally used to ever bigger phones, if you’re new to smartphones or just want something compact then the 3.5-inch size could really appeal.

And while few phones made today have a screen that small, look back a few years and you’ll see that the likes of the iPhone 4S did.

The small size also makes the Pixi 3 easy to operate with one hand, even if you have quite small hands – there’s no need to stretch or resort to two-handed use.

Design

The design of the Alcatel Pixi 3 is similarly uninspiring, but no more so than you’d expect for the price.

It has a very plain, basic plastic build with big bezels around the screen, leaving it looking chunky and almost like a child’s toy. It doesn’t feel very substantial either at just 100g, but that means along with the small size that it’s very pocketable.

Pixi 3 Review Group

The dimensions are 112.2 x 62 x 11.9mm, which again makes it small, though thicker than most handsets, and other than the slightly childish, cheap look it’s a completely bland, inoffensive design. It won’t impress anyone but nor will they look twice at it.

And the slightly childish look isn’t necessarily a bad thing either, since given the low price and small size this is a potentially good choice to give to a child.

Power

There’s just a 1.0GHz dual-core MediaTek MT6572M processor in the Alcatel Pixi 3, paired with 512MB of RAM.

That’s less power than we’d generally suggest people go for – if you want truly smooth Android operation you really tend to need at least a quad-core chipset and 2GB of RAM, but you’re never going to get that for such a low price.

As expected, the Pixi 3 doesn’t perform particularly well, but it’s not as awful as you might think either. Apps open slowly and there’s sometimes slowdown when using them too, but basic navigation and simple apps work reasonably well, and that’s all you can really expect from a phone that costs as little as this.

The Pixi 3 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat which is a dated version of Android, and it’s not going to be updated, but for the basic tasks you’ll likely use the Pixi 3 for it’s perfectly adequate and the interface is simple enough for kids or first-time users.

Camera

Pixi 3 review camera

The Pixi 3 has a 2MP rear camera and a VGA front-facing one. Neither is up to much, but the main camera does at least have some filters built-in, letting you choose from 8 different photo effects.

Surprisingly for such a cheap phone it will also automatically detect and follow faces, making sure people are always in focus. Your shots still won’t look great, but they’ll be fine when viewed on the Pixi 3’s small screen.

And it can even record video, though it’s limited to 480p at 15fps, so you won’t be filming your blockbuster on this.

Features

The main feature of the Alcatel Pixi 3 is simply that it’s so cheap. Even most phones that we consider entry-level cost more than twice as much, and while they also generally offer more the Pixi 3 just about manages most of the basics.

Battery life, memory and connectivity

There’s a 1300mAh battery in the Alcatel Pixi 3, which is enough for you to make 6.5 hours of calls on a single charge, or leave it on standby for up to 325 hours.

Actually using the phone will drain it fast, so if you’re more than a light user you might want to look elsewhere, but if you mostly plan to use the Pixi 3 for calls and texts, rather than apps, games, music, video and web browsing (all of which it’s just about capable of) then the Pixi 3 should last long enough between charges.

There’s 4GB of storage built-in, which is enough for a handful of apps. But there’s also a microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 32GB. Add one of them and you’ll have plenty of space, though if you don’t already have one it’s an extra expense, making the Pixi 3 less of a bargain.

Connectivity options include 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. Unsurprisingly there’s no NFC, so you won’t be able to make contactless payments with your phone, but more significantly there’s also no 4G.

That’s not overly surprising either at this price, but it means your mobile data speeds will be more limited than on most handsets.

Verdict

The Alcatel Pixi 3 is as basic as smartphones get. If you just want a phone it’s absolutely fine, but if you plan to heavily use the ‘smart’ functions such as apps and web browsing then you might want to look elsewhere.

The Pixi 3 will generally cope with such things, but not with any speed or style. Still, at the price it’s a bit of a bargain and a solid choice for young users or those who are getting their first smartphone, particularly if they want something small and simple.

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Specifications

Specifications

Dimensions (mm): 112.2 x 62 x 11.9

Weight (g): 100

Battery capacity (mAh): 1300

Colours: Various

Screen size (inches):  3.5

Resolution: 320 x 480

Pixels per inch (PPI): 165

Processor: Dual-core

Processor make: MediaTek MT6572M

RAM: 512MB

Internal storage: 4GB

Expandable storage up to (GB): 32

Camera: 2MP (VGA front-facing)

Operating System: Android KitKat

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