Alcatel Flash 2 first impressions: promising camera performance, but fails to stand out otherwise

“To highlight the camera prowess of its latest offering, Alcatel has coined a new term for mobile photography – mobigraphy”

Mobile photography has come a long way since the megapixel number game. Features like sensor and aperture matter as much as resolution, and manufacturers also know this, and hence are offering devices with shooters that can work well across different situations. French smartphone maker Alcatel is also one such brand, as it has launched its latest device, the Flash 2, putting special focus (pun intended) on the camera capabilities.

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The Flash 2 is a successor to the Flash, which received a good response from the market. It’s been launched at an affordable price point of Rs 9,299 and will go on sale exclusively on Flipkart. However, the segment is already choc-a-block with a number of devices, both from the Indian and international brands. Can Alcatel’s offering stand out? Let’s find out based on our brief usage experience at the launch event.

Instead of following the trend of phablets, the Alcatel Flash 2 is armed with a 5-inch display, making it an optimum size for one-hand use. Thanks to the curved back, the phone is a delight to hold and we believe it could be comfortably used for long periods as well. The phone is also quite thin and doesn’t feel too heavy.

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The front of the handset is dominated by the display panel, which bears a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels. The IPS display offers vibrant colours and pixelation isn’t an issue either. The portion above the display is occupied by an earpiece, a front-facing camera, an LED flash and a few sensors, while below it, you’ll find a row of capacitive navigation buttons. All the buttons have backlighting enabled, though the round home button instantly catches your attention.

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The edges of the Alcatel Flash 2 have a metallic rim, and the right spine is home to the power button and volume rocker as well as a dedicated shutter key. The shutter button is a welcome addition, and a rarity on smartphones. Apart from adding the ability to capture images the moment you’re in the camera app, it also lets you snap images in a burst mode, even when the phone is locked.

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The back panel features a matte texture, which is akin to the OnePlus One’s (review | cheatsheet) sandstone finish and the company refers to it as mark-free. It does offer a nice grip in hands and also adds to the charm of the Alcatel Flash 2 with its grey or white hue. The rear cover sports the primary camera along with dual-LED flash, the company’s imprint and a speaker mesh towards the bottom.

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Removing the back plate exposes the non-removable battery, which is a beefy 3,000mAh unit. You’ll also be able to access the dual-SIM slots along with a microSD card slot. Both the SIM slots support 4G networks (compatible with TDD and FDD bands).

The performance muscle on to the Alcatel Flash 2 is provided by MediaTek’s MT6753 processor, which offers eight cores humming at 1.3GHz. The 64-bit SoC is coupled with 2GB of RAM, and during our time with the device, delivered a lag-free usage. Navigating between screens was smooth and switching between apps was also instant, though the true test of hardware can only be known once it’s used extensively. For storage, the phone ships with 16GB of memory on board, out of which around 10.6GB is available to use, and you can also top it up to 128GB with a microSD card.

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The mainstay of the Alcatel Flash 2 is its photographic capabilities. It’s equipped with a 13-megapixel Samsung’s ISOCELL sensor, which features a wide aperture of f/2.0. Thanks to phase detection auto focus technology, the sensor can focus on the subject within 0.3 seconds. For shooting in low-light situations, the shooter gets help from dual-tone LED flash. Our test shots offered a good amount of detail and colour reproduction, though we’d like to reserve our judgment until the time we test out the shooter in different conditions.

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At the front, the phone features a 5MP snapper, which has an autofocus mechanism, unlike most secondary cameras. To assist in poorly-lit environments, the front camera also gets an LED flash that offers soft lighting so that the faces aren’t blown-out with the illumination. The custom camera also offers a number of modes, for both the primary and secondary shooter.

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The software on the smartphone is largely stock, and stands at version 5.1 Lollipop. You will find a couple of pre-installed apps such as AntiVirus, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc., though. The Alcatel Flash 2 also offers support for gestures, even when it’s asleep. You can double-tap-to-unlock, and draw certain characters to open apps of your liking, among other things.

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The Alcatel Flash 2 is priced affordably and brings a decent set of specs. However, as mentioned earlier, the phone will be facing tough competition to the likes of the Lenovo K3 Note (review | FAQs), YU Yureka Plus (review) and the recently-launched Coolpad Note 3 (first impressions), the last of which boasts a meaty 3gigs of RAM. In comparison, the only highlight of Alcatel’s offering is its camera hardware, which also needs to be put under variety of tests to sway us in its favour.

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