Alcatel Pop 4 Review
- It’s affordable
- Simple design
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- Good battery life
Could be better
- Slow processor means low performance
- Ordinary camera
- No colour choices
- Locked to the Optus network
Alcatel’s Pop 4 is inexpensive, and while it’s no superstar, its general performance is acceptable for its asking price.
Alcatel’s main forte is in affordable phones for the general audience, rather than show-stopping premium handsets that wow with features but take your breath away with high price points. The Pop 4, an exclusive to Optus in Australia, exemplifies this thinking, with a price of only $119.
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|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 210|
Upsides: Why you’d want the Alcatel Pop 4
- It’s affordable: Sure, this sounds like a one-note tune, but the key appeal of phones like the Pop 4 is that they’re remarkably inexpensive. You can buy cheaper handsets than the Pop 4, but not many with this feature set.
- Simple design: You won’t fool anybody that you’re rocking the latest and greatest premium phone, but at the same time the Pop 4 doesn’t commit too many offenses against reasonable taste and style. Its plastic frame is broadly reminiscent of Nokia/Microsoft’s many Lumia phones, and that’s no bad thing.
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow: Buy a cheap phone and you’re almost always looking at a phone running an older version of Android. The Pop 4 runs on Android 6.0 ("Marshmallow") and while we wouldn’t hold our breath for future updates, it’s a nice inclusion.
- Good battery life: The Pop 4’s processor isn’t particularly powerful, which has implications for its overall performance, but this, combined with Marshmallow’s gentle approach to battery usage means that the Pop 4 has very good battery life. Here’s how it compares against a range of more affordable handsets for battery life using Geekbench 3’s battery life test with screen dimming enabled:
Handset Geekbench 3 Battery Test Duration Geekbench 3 Battery Score Samsung Galaxy J2 10:05:20 2689 Alcatel Pop 4 9:20:30 2490 LG Stylus DAB+ 8:11:40 3278 Alcatel Go Play 7:21:10 2941 Google Nexus 5X 7:14:20 4062 Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 5:42:00 2276 LG G4 5:27:50 3224 Huawei P8 Lite 4:39:40 2768
That's a very respectable battery duration, although it is somewhat clarified by the Geekbench battery score, which measures performance while testing the battery. In order to reach that battery life duration, the Pop 4 isn't actually working all that hard, but that could be fine for those who only use their phones lightly during the day anyway.
Downsides: Why you might not want the Alcatel Pop 4
- Slow processor means low performance: Alcatel makes some noise about the quad-core processor in the Pop 4, but the reality is that you’re getting what you pay for, which is to say not much. General app performance is on the sluggish side, and this is borne out with the Pop 4’s Geekbench 3 scores. Here’s how it compares against a range of affordable phones:
Handset Geekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better) Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better) LG G4 1190 3313 Oppo R9 867 3303 Google Nexus 5X 1188 3198 Oppo R7s 696 2980 LG Stylus DAB+ 470 1418 Alcatel Go Play 453 1368 Samsung Galaxy J2 315 1044 Alcatel Pop 4 289 945
Benchmarks aren’t the be-all and end-all of smartphone performance, but unfortunately for the Pop 4 they are broadly indicative. For single tasks it’s an adequate performer, but as soon as you load up anything even passably intense, you’ll experience delays and shuddering performance.
The same story plays out in game terms, with the Pop 4 only just not being the worst for 3D performance in 3DMark’s Ice Storm Unlimited test. While we wouldn’t expect it compare with phones costing eight or more times its asking price, if you were thinking of buying a Pop 4 for your games-obsessed kids, be aware that it won’t offer them all that much high-powered fun.
Handset 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result LG G5 29597 Apple iPhone SE 29276 Samsung Galaxy S7 28903 Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 28402 Apple iPhone 6s 28171 HTC 10 27392 Sony Xperia X Performance 26125 Google Nexus 6P 24703 Sony Xperia Z5 19197 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus 17981 Huawei Mate 8 17947 HTC One X9 16877 Oppo R9 11053 Oppo R7s 8390 LG Stylus DAB+ 4321 Alcatel Pop 4 3863 Samsung Galaxy J2 3469
- Ordinary camera: Again, you’re getting what you pay for, with relatively slow focus and mediocre colour representation. The Pop 4 is also somewhat unique in that while you can launch the camera from the lock screen, it’s the only phone we’ve ever hit that doesn’t include the camera app on the default launcher main page. It’s Android, so it’s not tough to add it, but that’s just plain weird.
- No colour choices: Alcatel produces the Pop 4 in a variety of eye catching colours, but you wouldn’t know that to look at Optus’ offering. If you get the Pop 4 through Optus, you can have it in grey, grey, or (you guessed it) grey.
- Locked to the Optus network: Not a surprising move, but if you buy the Pop 4 through Optus, it will be locked to its network, limiting your overall carrier choices until you get it unlocked. If you recharge the Pop 4 with $80 or more this is a free process; otherwise it will incur a $80 fee.
Who is it best suited to? What are my other alternatives?
The Pop 4’s market is quite clear. It’s a phone that you’d buy if you were cash-strapped, or if you wanted a handset for those with minimal phone needs, or those who were likely to lose or break a phone. At $119 it was never going to be a world beater, and it isn’t, but it’s equally perfectly suitable value for that price. You could consider phones like Samsung’s Galaxy J2 in the same kind of price positioning if you want to explore other budget alternatives. If you wanted to stay within the same brand, consider the highly durable Alcatel Go Play.
Where can I get it?
The Alcatel Pop 4 is an exclusive to Optus, where it sells for $119 outright.