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Alcatel's Cheap A3 XL Will Offer a Fingerprint Sensor

Like other phone makers, Alcatel is using CES 2017 to unveil a phone with higher-end features than its price tag would suggest. But U.S. users will have to wait a little bit before they can get their hands on the new phablet.

Alcatel's A3 XL sports a 6-inch screen, just in case you were wondering why the phone had that XL slapped onto its name. More impressively, the phone will run Android Nougat and ship with a fingerprint sensor on its back — not exactly the sort of features you'd associated with a phone expected to cost around $200.

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Tom's Guide

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Tom's Guide

Pricing and Availability: Here's where U.S. phablet fans will need to be patient. While Alcatel says the A3 XL will hit the Asia Pacific, Middle East, African and Latin American markets during the first quarter of 2017, it hasn't officially announced a U.S. release. However, when we asked Steve Cistulli, president and general manager of Alcatel parent TCL Communication North America, if the phone would make it to the U.S. in 2017, he said yes. Pricing is not officially set, but we were told to expect a price around $200.

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Key Specs: A glance at the A3 XL's spec sheet doesn't immediately get the pulse racing about this phone. Yes, the screen is 6 inches, but its resolution will be a relatively modest 1280 x 720. It will be powered by a quad-core 1.1GHz CPU — Alcatel doesn't say which one — with a meager 1GB of RAM. The internal storage is only 8GB, although you can augment that with a microSD card up to 32GB. And the phone's cameras include a rear 8-megapixel shooter with a 5-MP selfie cam up front.

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Tom's Guide

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Tom's Guide

It's that fingerprint sensor that makes the A3 XL stand out from other budget phones. In addition to unlocking the phone, you'll also be able to use that sensor to answer phone calls, take photos, encrypt documents and access your apps. Alcatel is also touting an advanced speaker system for the A3 XL.

What's New: Fingerprint sensors aren't exactly groundbreaking features, but it's still exciting to see them on low-priced smartphones like this one — especially when they can pull off some of the functionality that Alcatel is touting.

Outlook: If we've learned one thing from this year's CES, it's that low price tags are no longer enough to make budget phones stand out from the crowd. That's a lesson Alcatel has clearly learned, and we're eager to see just how well the A3 XL measures up to similarly priced phones should it reach the U.S. as promised.

Philip Michaels
Philip Michaels is a senior editor at Tom's Guide. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics and old movies. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.