Specifications: 5.2-inch screen with 1280x720 pixels resolution and multitouch up to five fingers, Mediatek MT6753 octa-core processor clocked at 1.3GHz, Android 6.0 Marshmallow, 3GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, 13MP primary camera with LED flash, 5MP secondary camera with LED flash, fingerprint sensor
Pros: Lightup+ (LED) and Power+ (battery) mods,
Cons: Insufficient internal storage,
Modular smartphones grabbed the attention of the tech world few years back. The idea began with Modu's modular phone ten years ago. Later, it took an interesting turn with Nokia's now-scrapped Project Ara, and reached maturity with LG G5 and Moto Z. Now Alcatel has ventured into the modular arena with its A5 LED edition, with some notable hits and misses of its own.
Alcatel A5 LED offers a happy break from the monotonous design language prevalent among the mid-range segment smartphones. To do this, it allows the back cover to be swapped for one of the two mods - either a battery cover, or an exciting LED cover.
These mods connect to Alcatel A5 LED via some pogo pins placed at the top of the actual battery of the phone. While the Power+ battery mod increases the battery life by a decent 3100mAh, taking it to a total of 5900mAh, it is the Lightup+ LED mod that is the USP of the phone.
While LEDs on phones is not a new thing (remember Nokia 3220), nothing comes close to the party in a pocket that is Alcatel A5 LED. An array of 35 LEDs on the Lightup+ mod lights up in sync with what music is playing on the phone, or can be programmed to act as a notification alert. You can even select LED patterns for individual contacts or groups.
The LED panel is bright and customisable. Using dedicated applications, you can choose from ten presets for the Lightup+ back cover, or make the lights flash the colours of your surroundings. It even has a setting that switches light themes based on the decibel levels of your voice.
But the Alcatel A5 LED comes with some shortcomings that cannot be ignored. The 5.2-inch screen is a 720p panel which leaves a lot to be desired. Screen output is not as crisp as you would like it to be from a modern phone. Images from the 13MP snapper on the Alcatel A5 LED came out average at best. The 5MP front camera comes with an LED flash of its own but does little to help with selfies in low light.
The octa-core Mediatek 6753 processor clocked at 1.3GHz and 3GB of RAM makes the Alcatel A5 LED a decent daily driver. The smartphone manages to handle multiple applications running simultaneously. The transitions are smooth even with several applications running in the background. The performance, however, drops when pushed. We found the phone tends to heat up while gaming, or similar performance intensive jobs.
The Alcatel A5 LED runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box, which is a disappointment. There are pre-installed applications, like Facebook, Amazon, Kindle, etc, which you can use right off the bat. We had some random advertisements pop up on the review unit though, which got a bit annoying after a while. One can turn off these advertisements by disabling unnecessary pre-installed apps.
The 2800mAh battery on Alcatel A5 LED drains a lot faster than expected. The Power+ mod did help to extend the battery life to over a day's usage with moderate use. However, the battery pack cover does bulk-up the phone.
Launched at Rs 16,999, the Alcatel A5 LED is now selling for Rs 10,499 on Amazon India. While the phone does offer some interesting features, it is weighed down by shortcomings in some crucial parts.