Alcatel Pop 4 Review

Alex Kidman 13 July 2016

AlcatelPop4_5_450

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.

AlcatelPop 4
Screen size5in
Storage8GB
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 210
Rear camera8MP
Front camera5MP
Battery2500mAh
Resolution720x1280
Display density401ppi
RRP$119

AlcatelPop4_4_450

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:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
    Samsung Galaxy J210:05:202689
    Alcatel Pop 49:20:302490
    LG Stylus DAB+8:11:403278
    Alcatel Go Play7:21:102941
    Google Nexus 5X7:14:204062
    Alcatel OneTouch Idol 35:42:002276
    LG G45:27:503224
    Huawei P8 Lite4:39:402768

    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.

AlcatelPop4_2_450

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:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better)
    LG G411903313
    Oppo R98673303
    Google Nexus 5X11883198
    Oppo R7s6962980
    LG Stylus DAB+4701418
    Alcatel Go Play4531368
    Samsung Galaxy J23151044
    Alcatel Pop 4289945

    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.

    Handset3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result
    LG G529597
    Apple iPhone SE29276
    Samsung Galaxy S728903
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge28402
    Apple iPhone 6s28171
    HTC 1027392
    Sony Xperia X Performance26125
    Google Nexus 6P24703
    Sony Xperia Z519197
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus17981
    Huawei Mate 817947
    HTC One X916877
    Oppo R911053
    Oppo R7s8390
    LG Stylus DAB+4321
    Alcatel Pop 43863
    Samsung Galaxy J23469
  • 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.

AlcatelPop4_450

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.

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