Alcatel Go Play Review: Waterproof and budget-friendly
Alcatel’s Go Play offers a colourful mid-range alternative with excellent waterproofing features.
Dropping your phone into water is generally bad news. That’s not a startling comment to make (although if you have just dunked your phone, our guide on what to do may be some help).
There have only been a small handful of waterproof phones in the marketplace, despite it being quite the killer of handsets, but to date it’s a feature that has been the province of higher end premium handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 or the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium. Alcatel’s usual modus operandi is to enter the market with a basic or mid-range handset with just a few key killer features. In the case of the Go Play, it’s the inclusion of waterproofing.
|Alcatel Go Play|
|OS||Android 5.0 ("Marshmallow")|
|Processor||Quad Core 1.2 GHz CPU|
Upsides: Why you’d want the Alcatel Go Play
- Waterproofing works really well: We’ll admit we had our doubts as to how robust a $299 smartphone would actually be, but the Go Play survived everything we threw at it, including multiple underwater dunkings. It uses the same approach as the Samsung Galaxy S5, with a protective flap over the microSD charging port that needs to be shut off to protect its internals. You may even have some luck operating it while immersed; we noted that while taking photos of it under a tap, the flow of water was able to trigger onscreen elements.
- Bright, colourful design: Most cheap smartphones have utilitarian designs, but that’s not a criticism you can make of the Alcatel Go Play, which opts for a very 80s-feeling neon back on the phone, with a simple flat face.
- Exceptional battery life: It’s usual in the budget space to see compromised battery life, but this wasn’t our experience with the Alcatel Go Play, which managed to very handily beat out a wide variety of much higher profile competitors in Geekbench’s battery test.
Handset Geekbench 3 Battery Test Duration Geekbench 3 Battery Score Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ 8:24:10 5041 Apple iPhone 6S Plus 7:48:10 4681 Alcatel Go Play 7:21:10 2941 Google Nexus 5X 7:14:20 4062 Samsung Galaxy S6 6:51:30 4115 Google Nexus 6P 6:39:20 3754 Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 5:42:00 2276 Sony Xperia Z5 5:41:30 3414 LG G4 5:27:50 3224 Huawei P8 Lite 4:39:40 2768 Apple iPhone 6s 3:52:10 2321
Its success does have to be tempered by the fact that it’s not packing the fastest processor by a long shot, but for practical purposes this is a phone that should very easily last you through the day.
- Acceptable camera: Again, in the budget space camera optics can be woeful. The Go Play isn’t going to put the premium players under any real pressure, and it’s notably not much cop in low light situations, but given its price point its camera is perfectly acceptable.
Downsides: Why you might not want the Alcatel Go Play
- Garish design choices: You may or may not like the Go Play’s throwback colouring, and that’s a personal call. Alcatel’s basic Google launcher uses rounded icons that lack panache, and while it’s Android, so you can skin it as you like, out of the box it’s quite garish.
- Low processor performance: There’s a price to pay for the Go Play’s battery life, and that's in the performance stakes. We didn’t expect the Go Play to seriously challenge the premium range, but even in the entry to mid-level stakes, it’s a slow performer in day-to-day usage, something that was made even more stark when we threw Geekbench’s benchmark at it.
Handset Geekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better) Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ 1492 4893 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge 1324 4626 Google Nexus 6P 1251 4597 Samsung Galaxy S6 1347 4569 Apple iPhone 6S 2540 4410 Apple iPhone 6S Plus 2491 4391 Sony Xperia Z5 1358 4134 LG G4 1190 3313 Google Nexus 5X 1188 3198 Oppo F1 692 3083 Huawei P8 Lite 582 2612 Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 655 2461 Alcatel Go Play 453 1368
- Waterproofing will only take you so far: Alcatel’s image of the Go Play in the bubble bath above might give you the impression it’s bath-friendly. It’s a tad more complex than that; while the Go Play is IP67 rated, that’s for immersion in fresh water. Chances are reasonable that it would survive a quick dip in the hot suds, but technically it’s only "proof" against clean water, not anything with soap (or salt, chlorine, or anything else) in it.
Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?
Like much of Alcatel’s output, the Go Play is strongly targeted at a budget-centric mobile phone buyer. If that’s you and you consistently find yourself in environments that would kill other smartphones, at the $299 asking price it’s a solid proposition.
However, if you want waterproofing your choices become more limited, because that's typically been a premium handset feature. If the budget permits the Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and Sony Xperia Z5 Premium are all great phones, but you could buy three to four Alcatel Go Play phones for the outright asking price of those handsets. Your best bet might be the phone that the Alcatel Go Play’s rubber base flap reminds us most of, the Samsung Galaxy S5 if you can find one outright. Alternately, that’s a handset still sold on budget contract, most notably through Woolworths Mobile.
Where can I get it?
The Alcatel Go Play is sold through traditional retailers with an asking price of $299.