We review Alcatel One Touch’s Pop 2, an affordable 4.5-inch phone that packs 4G for under £100
The Alcatel One Touch Pop 2 is a hefty little mite, weighing in at 147g despite its compact frame. Not exactly wrist-snappingly cumbersome, but it’s definitely heavier than you’d expect and quite chunky too, like many budget handsets. Still, the good news is that it’s also quite rugged, so if your palms are a little slippery, the Pop 2 will hopefully survive the odd tumble.
We also quite like the simple design. Like Motorola’s Moto G, Alcatel One Touch has opted for a plain look for the Pop 2 and it’s pleasingly minimalist. We’re fans of the clean white model we received for review, which seemed to be surprisingly resistant to scuffs unlike the Honor Holly by Huawei.
You can prise off the back plate to access the removable battery, Micro SIM card slot and Micro SD memory card slot. The plate snaps on cleanly and is held firmly in place, and you can swap it out for another bright and bold colour just like the Moto G, to quickly change the design depending on your mood.
Screen and media
The Pop 2 packs a basic 4.5-inch TFT display, which does the job nicely for browsing the web, playing with apps and other everyday tasks.
However, it’s not the sharpest screen around, sporting a stripped-back 480×854 pixel resolution. Close rival the Honor Holly has a more spacious 5-inch screen packing 720p HD visuals, making it a better portable pal if you want to watch movies or shows on the way to work. Viewing angles are also stronger on the Holly, with images darkening quite rapidly as you tilt the Pop 2. Thankfully it’s not an issue in general day-to-day use.
That said, the Pop 2 is perfectly fine for enjoying YouTube clips and the like and with that expandable storage, you can carry a load of media around with you.
Features and user experience
Android 4.4 KitKat has a more cartoony look after Alcatel’s tinkerings, which gives your desktops a similar design to Huawei’s Emotion UI. And like many Huawei phones, the Pop 2 also packs a ridiculous amount of bloatware.
You get apps for cleaning up your phone, apps for backing up or protecting your files, apps for taking notes and editing documents. There’s a currency converter app, a wireless hotspot app and a separate system update app, not to mention a ton of crappy games. Alcatel even adds in its own apps store, which is completely pointless as you thankfully get full Google Play support.
Some of the additions could be genuinely useful for users, but most of the apps are either free to download anyway or overshadowed by better alternatives. Considering there’s only 5GB of usable built-in storage, we’d rather the phone was clean instead of stacked with crap.
Still, it’s hard to complain when the Pop 2 packs in 4G support, which few phones under £100 boast – even the Moto G doesn’t have 4G in its latest form and it’s well over £100. That LTE compatibility is great news if you want to stream music and media and also if you’re constantly browsing the web or getting stuck into social media.
Performance and battery life
Android runs smoothly enough on the Pop 2, with some slick transitions and so on, although the phone does occasionally get a little flummoxed. On more than one occasion we tried quitting out of an app, only to be presented with a blank screen while the processor raced to catch up.
Games aren’t an issue though, with blasters, racers and puzzle games playing with smooth frame rates. The Pop 2 will start to struggle sooner rather than later as mobile tech evolves and games demand more power, but for now you’re covered.
Battery life on the Pop 2 is decent, with the phone lasting over a day between charges even with regular use. It’ll also happily stream video for around six hours before dying, which is better than average for any kind of modern mobile.
It’s also nice that Alcatel One Touch has included a Gecko power pack in the box, which attaches to the back of the Pop 2 via a bunch of suction cups and plugs into the phone’s USB port to pump in juice when you’re running low. If the Gecko is fully charged, there’s about enough power to recharge the Pop 2 from empty, so it effectively doubles the longevity of the phone.
As with most handsets around the £100 mark, the Pop S2 packs a 5-megapixel camera that’s very much a by-the-motions snapper. Everyday auto shots in well-lit environments look fine, although detail levels are limited, so your photos will only be suited to social sharing – don’t expect to produce great-looking memories to cherish forever and showoff to the grandkids.
If you get up-close to your subject, you’ll find that the lens struggles – our shots of food and other objects taken just a few inches away often came out blurry. The camera also performs poorly in low light, taking ages to focus on your subject and then often producing a grainy image. Thankfully there’s a flash to help out, which makes a real difference.
You can shoot Full HD 1080p video, which once again is serviceable if not inspiring. And rounding off the optics is a front-facing camera for those all-important selfies.
The Alcatel One Touch Pop 2 is a respectable budget offering, packing 4G, a reasonably smooth user experience and solid battery life into a plain yet strangely attractive handset. The screen and camera are bettered by rivals, while the excessive bloatware means you’ll have to get busy with the uninstall button, but for a sub-£100 phone the One Touch Pop 2 will satisfy anyone looking for a basic web browser and media streamer.