Alcatel OneTouch 20.05 review: The last of the feature phones?

Alcatel are a throwback to the bygone age of feature phones in a world of smart phones. With its old-school design, the Alcatel OneTouch 20.05 is unashamedly a feature phone, but as we discover, it shouldn’t be dismissed off-hand because of that:

In the second half of 2013, we sit on the cusp of the next wave of smart phones. The Apple iPhone 6 rumours persist, and continue to point to a September release. Samsung, the emerging smart phone stars of 2013, having swashbuckled their way to a 75% market share, will come again with new updates to their galaxy line. Google too, the new players in the tablet and phone wars, have models to come as well. So it’s a bit surprising to see Alcatel, a little known French outfit, persisting with the feature phone. It’s all somewhat quaint.

No feature phone is going to be loaded with smart phone like features, and the Alcatel OneTouch 20.05 is certainly not. But then, it’s not claiming to be targeting the smart phone crowd. If your main use for a phone remains talking and texting, then this may just be your perfect phone in 2013. However, the market still carries a number of phones targeting such folk, so the challenge for Alcatel is showcasing enough value to hook the customers.

So who is still in the market for a feature phone? In many ways, it boils down to two main categories of people. 1) the very young, and 2) the older consumers. The Alcatel OneTouch 20.05 is targeting the former, as showcased by two of their phones main features.

The inclusion of social media apps is the biggest giveaway. The phone comes pre-loaded with Facebook and Twitter app links, which you can then click to download. Alcatel aren’t forcing you to have any third-party bundled software, which is a nice throwback in itself, but they are making these apps easily accessible. Of course, such apps are not universally targeting the younger audience, but they are indicative giveaways. The second giveaway lies in the phone’s design, which combines a sleek thin layout with bright and bold colours, such as a red back pane. Such brighter, bold, standout colours are definitely intended at the youth market.

Alcatel have been doing the rounds, sending leading technology websites free copies of the phone. The one that we came across sported a rather un-fetching pink back pane, which had the effect of making the phone look like it belonged in a down market nail bar. Theres also blue and orange/red versions, which are all available from a very modest £22.49 pay as you go.

Overlooking the garish colour scheme, which whilst not to my taste, will definitely appeal to some, the rest of the design is distinctively nice. Alcatel have cleverly angled the bottom edge which ensures that the bold back pane remains in sight. The affect delivers a quite unique design, making the whole package very pleasing on the eye.

The rest of the package includes a rear facing camera (2MP) and an old-school feature phone keypad, complete with the old D-Panel nav. The phone casing is naturally constructed out of plastic, but at a sub £30 price point, you’re hardly going to get aluminium. The case is a hair under 1cm thick and weights in at a lightweight 85g


The keypad is a highly usable and speedy affair. Big, bold keys are easy to locate at speed, making texting a joy. Theres no doubt that i text faster on this keypad as opposed to say an iPhone, and i like the almost desktop computer keyboard-esque key travel distance, complete with a clearly audible click sound. The big keys make this phone practical for the older user too, allowing it to tick boxes for both potential target markets.

Interestingly for a screen that boasts of a meagre 320*240 pixel resolution – the picture is sharp. No, it’s definitely not retina display sharp, but it is markedly better than i feared it would be. However at 2.4 inches, it’s hardly the phablet size that the wider market is quickly growing towards. The screen is not touch sensitive though, so it’s not like you’re trying to navigate using it, meaning that it suffices. This reminds us of a number of the classic mobile phones form the late 1990’s early 2000’s, in a good way.

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You’ll be anticipating a pretty minimal set of specifications from all of this, and I am not going to disappoint you by revealing anything stunning. Alcatel says the processor runs at 260MHz, but don’t let that give you heart palpitations. It ran plenty fast enough for me. There’s not a lot of weight for this handset to push around.

The OneTouch 20.05 is certainly not carrying a large spec, but then it doesn’t need one. The 1.2MB memory is hardly likely to overly excite, but being a feature phone, there are no large pools of apps to download. The phone does also offer a micro USB port on the sidebar, so memory can be upgraded the old-school way if required.

There are a number of things to watch out for though:

  • No mobile email
  • No 3G or Wi-Fi, rendering the mobile browser somewhat obsolete.
  • Your therefore not getting any of the more ‘everyday useful’ smart phone apps, like maps.

On the plus side, the battery can run for nearly two days due to the lack of data crunching, reminding us of one of the golden features of the earlier mobile phones. So whether you’re young or old, or even a frequent business traveler who wants a phone that can see out a couple of days, this phone will find an audience.

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