The AVALON V from Alcatel marks a pretty important milestone for Alcatel in the US. Not because it is a great phone or will make the company a ton of money but, simply, that it marks Alcatel’s first handset for Verizon, the US’ largest mobile provider. Read on to find out how successful this first foray onto Big Red’s network is for Alcatel.
The AVALON V is a $99 phone and makes all of the expected sacrifices to hit that price point. The phone materials are far from premium. If you can imagine a generic budget phone then you know what to expect from the AVALON V. There’s no fingerprint sensor or other biometric security device, which is probably my biggest disappointment with this phone.
The AVALON V has a 5.3 inch 2:1 LCD display that has a resolution of 960×480 (201 ppi). The screen is tuned pretty cool so there’s a bluish tint to everything. It’s the sort of thing your eyes would probably get used to is you use this phone everyday but it’s pretty noticeable if you use it next to a higher quality screen. I really thought the low resolution would bother me but I quickly forgot about it.
The volume rocker and power button are on the right side of the device, just like God intended, and are satisfyingly clicky. The power button is nicely textured so it is easy to find. Both are plastic but they get the job done. The pop-out SIM/microSD tray sits on the left side of the phone. Interestingly, there’s a notification LED above the screen which can be set to flash for notifications and battery status.
The back of the phone is covered in a soft touch material that feels like smooth sandpaper. That might sound like a know but it isn’t. The texture plus the size makes this phone easy to hold on to. It’s also eminently pocketable and I quite like the size of the phone.
Overall, the AVALON V’s design is quite boring. There’s nothing spectacular about it. At the same time, there’s nothing offensive about it. It simply exists.
The AVALON V runs on Qualcomm’s SD 425 platform with 2 GB RAM and 16 GB storage. There’s only about 7 GB free out of the box. Storage can be expanded via microSD but only by 32 GB.
The SD 425 does a good job running the base OS, which is a pretty vanilla Android 8.1. Scrolling and swiping are smooth and responsive. I did notice some lag in the Gboard keyboard when typing and swiping. Apps can quickly overwhelm the CPU. Google Photos, in particular, really suffers. Light gaming is OK but I did see some jitteriness in Super Mario Run. Other apps won’t even run.
Alcatel has added a few features to the OS to try to keep things running well. When a new app is installed you’ll see a couple of popups. One warns you that the app may run in the background and the other tells you that the device can provide notifications. Both offer to restrict them to preserve the performance of the device. At first, I saw these as annoyances. But after thinking about the target audience for a $99 phone I’ve decided that these are a pretty helpful way to keep the phone running as well as it can.
Battery life is decent. It has a 2,460 mAh battery. It definitely lasted me a full day when using this as my secondary work phone. That means it was getting emails all day, using it for IM, phone calls, and some light web-browsing. I think most AVALON V users will be fine with the battery performance.
I debated whether to even include a separate camera section for the AVALON V because the cameras are just bad. The primary camera is a 5 megapixel affair and there is an LED flash. The pictures that it takes are really soft and lacking in detail. Video recording is limited to 720p. The front camera sensor is an ultra-low 2 megapixels.
The camera app struggles. It’s setup very much like the default Android/Google camera. Unfortunately, it is slow to take pictures, slow to adjust after repointing the camera, and produces poor to middling results. The only interesting feature it has is one called Instant Collage where you can take up to four pictures that get saved as a single collage image.
I really struggled with this phone. On the one hand, the phone is only $99 so not much can be expected from it. And I think that for my father-in-law this phone would be fine. He mainly wants to receive texts or Whatsapp messages, occasionally check Facebook, and keep up with soccer scores around the world. I think Alcatel’s software adds to reduce notifications and background tasks would help him. On the other hand,other budget devices I’ve used in the past outperform this phone. The 2017 Moto E4 and 2018 Moto E5 spring to mind as two devices that run circles around the AVALON V even though they are similarly specced. In the end, I can’ really recommend the AVALON V as anything but a backup phone.