Alcatel PLUS 12 review: A simple, low-cost 2-in-1
Alcatel's low-cost 2-in-1 isn't fancy, but it's suitably priced for those who need a simple mobile computing experience.
- Keyboard and stylus included
- Fingerprint unlocking
- Full Windows 10 compatibility
- Keyboard is light and ordinary
- Low-power CPU leads to low performance
- Low storage means you'll need to budget for microSD expansion.
Alcatel is best known in Australia for its bevy of low-cost mobile handsets aimed at the budget market. A lot of Australian carriers offer Alcatel's feature phones as well as its smartphones. At this year's Mobile World Congress, Alcatel showed off a range of such devices alongside its first 2-in-1 tablet device.
While you might have expected Alcatel to opt for an Android tablet, it instead revealed a Windows 10 2-in-1 device with its own keyboard cover and an included stylus – the Alcatel PLUS 12.
You can't call the Alcatel PLUS 12 fancy in any design sense because it obviously isn't. Measuring in at 284 x 175 x 7.9mm, it's a bland slab of a tablet with rounded corners and minimal controls. Weighing in at 599 grams, it's relatively lightweight for a Windows 10 tablet, and in its standalone configuration, the rear of the tablet is quite slippery. On the right hand side of the PLUS 12 sits a microHDMI port, a single USB C port that acts as both data interface and charging connection, volume controls and a power button that also houses a slender fingerprint sensor for unlocking the device.
In display terms, the Alcatel PLUS 12 features an 11.6-inch Full HD display with reasonable viewing characteristics. In very bright light, it's not superb, but for most essential Windows tasks, it's perfectly suitable. Naturally enough, that Full HD resolution makes it suitable for a wide variety of less productive video-watching applications.
Alcatel's "value" positioning can be seen in the PLUS 12 by the battery powered stylus and keyboard case it supplies with the device. The stylus weighs a fair bit because of its AAA battery, but some users may prefer this as it gives the stylus a more pen-like feel. The keyboard case mimics just about every low-cost tablet keyboard case I've ever tested in that it's essentially adequate without being particularly exciting in any way. Keys are light to touch and rather noisy, and the whole affair is rather cramped.
The keyboard case acts as a full folio to protect the screen, and also folds out to support the PLUS 12 for desk-based work. Using it on your lap is a rather more fraught experience because the folding rear of the case only locks very lightly into place, meaning it's very prone to slipping out of position.
The Alcatel PLUS 12 is powered by an Intel Celeron N3350 with just 4GB of RAM, which means it's not a very high-powered device. However, that's in line with the asking price. Don't expect to be playing high-powered games or rapidly editing any of your 4K video on the PLUS 12. For more mundane tasks, such as email or web browsing, it's workable at a fundamental level.
Alcatel doesn't supply much in the way of additional software with the PLUS 12. Depending on how you look at it, that's either a blessing because there's no crapware to uninstall or a curse because there's no value in additional free software. Then again, with only 32GB onboard, and only around 15GB of that left over once Windows 10 is installed, there's not a whole lot of room for extra applications anyway. For practical purposes, you should probably budget for a microSD card to expand the PLUS 12's storage unless you live your life exclusively in the cloud.
It's worth noting that while the models launched at MWC featured integrated 4G connectivity, that's a feature not found in the Australian model of the PLUS 12, which relies on external 801.11ac Wi-Fi for its Internet connectivity.
Battery life on a device like this is rather critical because it's obviously designed with portability in mind. Our review unit came with a US plug charger, but regular Australian ones shouldn't.
Alcatel ships the PLUS 12 with a 6900mAh battery on the tablet itself as well as a 2580mAH battery in the keyboard case, although that specification is for the international, 4G-ready model where the keyboard can also act as its own 4G Wi-Fi hotspot. It's not clear if the Australian model actually has this onboard battery. We tested looping video in full connected mode to ascertain the maximum battery life you're likely to see out of the Alcatel PLUS 12.
From a full charge, looping through a Full HD video saw the battery exhausted in 6 hours and 50 minutes precisely, which is very middle of the road, and again, entirely expected.
The Alcatel PLUS 12 isn't an exciting 2-in-1, but then, that's pretty much the point because it sells on price, not on flashy feature sets.
The reality here is that there's not a lot of competition in the 2-in-1 Windows 10 tablet space in Australia at this price point, although you can grab other brand name devices with folding hinge-style arrangements from brands such as Dell, Lenovo or Acer around this price point.
As such, the Alcatel PLUS 12 could be a good match for secondary students with moderate computing needs or for anyone who needs a mobile computing experience that goes beyond what's feasible on a simple Android tablet. If you need more processing power, the PLUS 12 is unlikely to satisfy your needs. If you're happy with an undeniably budget solution, it could work well.
Pricing and availability
The Alcatel PLUS 12 is available in Australia now through Vodafone. It sells outright for $558, or you can purchase it on contract with a bundled Wi-Fi hotspot on a 24-month contract term, with plans starting at $35 per month.
|Plan||Monthly Cost||Included monthly data||Minimum 24-month cost|
|Vodafone Alcatel PLUS 12 & Pocket Wi-Fi 4G $35 Plan||$35||1.5GB||$840|
|Vodafone Alcatel PLUS 12 & Pocket Wi-Fi 4G $39 Plan||$39||3GB||$936|
|Vodafone Alcatel PLUS 12 & Pocket Wi-Fi 4G $48 Plan||$48||7GB||$1,152|
|Vodafone Alcatel PLUS 12 & Pocket Wi-Fi 4G $60 Plan||$60||12GB||$1,440|
Alcatel PLUS 12 Specifications
- Product Name
- Alcatel PLUS 12
- Display Size
- 11.6 inches
- Intel Celeron Dual Core 2.4GHz N3350
- 32GB plus microSD
- Operating System
- Windows 10
- Front camera
- Rear camera
- 284 x 175 x 7.9 mm
- $558 or on contract