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Alcatel OT-980
Mobile Phones | First Looks
Mon 28 Mar 2011

Alcatel Goes Android

Smartphones of different form factors are becoming more reachable for the masses these days, thanks to Google's Android OS. Another solid proof is the Alcatel OT-980, a touchscreen-slash-QWERTY smartphone powered by Android 2.1 (Eclair). Although announced and released on February of last year, the smartphone is still quite a new offering locally as part of Alcatel’s campaign in re-firing up its label in the Philippine mobile scene.


Alcatel's OT-980 attempts to offer the best of both worlds with its touchscreen display and sliding QWERTY keypad. When the keypad is hidden, the OT-980 bears semblance to the HTC Touch.

Build Quality

In general, the OT-980 espouses a decent build quality. When its keypad is not in use, the smartphone calls to mind an image of the HTC Touch. On the other hand, when its keypad is out, it reminds us of the BlackBerry Torch. Most of the smartphone’s casing has a rubbery, matte black surface that provides you with an enhanced grip. On the front, the OT-980 carries a 2.8-inch touchscreen display that leverages on older resistive technology. The 3.5mm audio port, volume rocker, and microUSB port are all situated on the right side of the handset. Furthermore, the OT-980’s back cover is easy to remove and the microSD and SIM card slots are easy to access. You no longer have to remove the battery module just to hot-swap a SIM or a microSD card into the slots mentioned.

When its QWERTY keypad is out, the OT-980 reminds us of the BlackBerry Torch. The sliding mechanism of the OT-980 is similar to that of other slider phones.

The OT-980’s sliding mechanism is similar to other handsets in slider form factor. Its QWERTY keypad is composed of buttons with a clear, rubber-like surface. The buttons are quite small and there were a few times that we mistyped our text messages. But fortunately, the keypad is back-illuminated so you can still use it even in the dark.

User Friendliness And Performance

Since the OT-980 employs a resistive touchscreen display, it required more effort just to scroll up or down through the icons. There were moments that we unintentionally launched an application. You may opt using a stylus on the OT-980 to achieve more accuracy. Multitouch gestures are not supported as well. When viewing photos or websites, you must maneuver virtual plus (+) and minus (-) buttons to zoom in and out. This function is employed also when taking still photos and using the built-in camera’s digital zoom. Unfortunately, the virtual plus-minus buttons are not available on some apps such as Facebook Mobile, though you can use it when viewing photos on FB.

Here is a quick look at the back of the OT-980. Seen from this angle are the 2-megapixel camera, 3.5mm audio jack, volume rocker, and the microUSB interface.

In spite of the fact that it already runs on Android 2.1 (Eclair), the OT-980 still borrows some elements from the preceding version, such as the application drawer that is present on Android 1.6 (Donut). The OT-980’s UI has all the characteristics of a stock Android installation, which includes a set of five home screens. Alcatel has also thrown in some factory-installed applications on the handset OS like some games and social networking applications.

To play various video formats on the OT-980, you must have to install a more advanced media player on it, which can be downloaded for free from the Android Market. Video with resolutions that are within the range of standard definition are playable, but high definition videos starting at 720p are not supported. The OT-980 has decent audio quality that is clear and loud enough for personal consumption, but if it still does not suffice, just plug in your favorite headphones to the built-in 3.5mm jack and you’re ready to go. Packed with an 1150mAh lithium-ion module, this Android promises to deliver continuous music playback of up to 35 hours. While adequate for casual outdoor shooting, the OT-980’s 2-megapixel camera is insufficient for indoor or low-light shooting. Putting the handset to the test using Quadrant Standard, we found out that the OT-980 is more powerful than the Xperia X10i and a few notches below the HTC Desire.

SPECIFICATIONS Network: Quad-band GSM, Dual-band HSDPA // Operating System: Android 2.1 (Eclair) // Display: 2.8-inch Resistive Touchscreen, 240 x 320 // Camera: 2-megapixel // Physical Interfaces: microUSB 2.0, 3.5mm Audio Jack, microSD Slot, SIM Card Slot // Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, 7.2Mbps HSDPA, 5.76Mbps HSUPA, Bluetooth 2.0 With A2DP, GPS // Battery: 1150mAh Lithium Ion // Dimensions: 108 x 60.4 x 15.9mm // Weight: 152g // Price: PhP 7,999

Final Thoughts

The Alcatel OT-980 has a lot of potential, considering that it is the cheapest Android smartphone packed with both a touchscreen display and a QWERTY keypad by far. The only Android smartphone with such a form factor that we personally know is the HTC Desire Z, but do take note that the device still sells at a high price point in official HTC retail stores. The OT-980 can decently handle tasks intended for an entry-level Android device, ranging from basic phone duties up to entertainment capabilities like video playback. What mars the character of the OT-980 is its use of a resistive touchscreen display. Nevertheless, if Alcatel had opted using a capacitive type on this one, we deem that its price would end up much higher than PhP 7,999, which we feel most consumers will find reasonable.