Alcatel Revamps Its Smartphones with Supersized Screens

BARCELONA — Every smartphone maker from Apple to Alcatel is embracing edge-to-edge displays, as evidenced by the latter’s lineup of devices on display at Mobile World Congress.

The Alcatel 5 offers a dual-lens front-facing camera on a budget.

The Alcatel 5 offers a dual-lens front-facing camera on a budget.

As promised at CES, Alcatel showed off five Android phones in Barcelona that sport giant screens with an 18:9 aspect ratio. It’s unclear when these devices will be available in the U.S. or what their pricing will be, though Alcatel has previously said its 5 series of phones will cost less than $300, 3 series phones will be sub-$200 and the 1 series would cost $100.

The mid-tier 5.7-inch Alcatel 5 is the company’s premium phone with a focus on photography. The device is one of the few to sport dual front-facing camera lenses — a 13-megapixel primary shooter and a super wide-angle 5-megapixel lens with LED flash. The camera system is smart enough to tell when you should switch from a Portrait Mode selfie to a wide-angle shot with friends when there are more than two faces in frame.

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The device offers features such as Social Square, which places recently captured photos alongside your camera app’s live preview in a split-screen. Instant Collage and Photo Booth features capture images in more entertaining ways. The Alcatel 5 also offers facial recognition for authentication and a programmable fingerprint sensor for quick-launching your most-used apps with the scan of a finger. The 5 is now available in some markets for €230.

While the Alcatel 5 does not offer a rear dual-lens camera system, the lower-priced 3 series has two such models to choose from. Every device in the 3 series clocks in under €200 euro. The 6-inch 3V, 5.7-inch 3X and 5.5-inch 3 have many of the same features as the Alcatel 5, such as facial recognition. The 3V also sports a 2160 x 1080 screen and dual-lens camera, while the 3X has a lower-res 1440- x 720 LCD panel but also packs in a rear two-camera system. The 3V’s primary lens is 12 megapixels to the 3X’s 13, and the 3V’s secondary camera is 2-MP to the 3X’s 5-MP. The 3V is €190, the 3X is €180 and the entry-level model 3 is €150.

The 3V has a rear-facing dual-lens camera system and costs less than the 5 series model.

The 3V has a rear-facing dual-lens camera system and costs less than the 5 series model.

And at the lower end of the rung is Alcatel’s 1X, due out in April in certain markets. That phone will cost €100 to €110, depending on the country. It includes facial recognition, a fingerprint sensor, the social photography features in the higher-end Alcatel 5 and, most importantly, one of the few 18:9 screens in a phone this price. The 1X runs a version of Android Oreo designed to bring premium features to low-cost devices. That program, Android Go, pre-installs versions of Google apps such as YouTube, Gmail, Maps and Files that are optimized to take up less storage space.

As part of its MWC announcements, Alcatel is also adding to its tablet lineup: the 1T 10 and 1T 7 are affordable tablets running Android 8.1 Oreo, but the company isn’t planning to bring them to U.S. anytime soon, if at all.

Caitlin is a Senior editor for Gizmodo. She has also worked on Tom's Guide, Macworld, PCWorld and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. When she's not testing out the latest devices, you can find her running around the streets of Los Angeles, putting in morning miles or searching for the best tacos.