Alcatel A5 LED Hands On

02 March 2017

What Is it?

Alcatel's A5 LED is an upper entry-level smartphone with a LED back cover. The phone's plastic back has LEDs embedded under it, which in addition to looking nifty, act as a music visualiser, and fires up for notifications.

Other key specifications include a 5.2-inch 720p display, an eight-core 1.5GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, an 8MP rear-camera, a front-facing fingerprint reader and a 2800mAh battery. It runs Android Marshmallow. 

What did we think?

If I was going to describe the A5 LED in one work, it would be "quirky". It wouldn't be my first choice of smartphone, but I love that it exists. I mean, a smartphone back covered in LEDs is kinda cooked. 

While the A5 LED is meant to tap into the idea of personalisation to appeal to a younger audience or something,  the LED back actually does have some practical functionality. The back can light up in different colours depending on the notification you receive - blue for Facebook, yellow for Snapchat, for example - meaning you can tell what's what without looking at the screen. At least if you've got the phone face down in front of you. 

The A5 LED runs a mostly stock version of Android, although its still on Marshmallow rather than Nougat. Alcatel has however changed used its own icons for most apps, and preloaded a few of its own. One notable addition is Colour Catcher, an app that picks the main hues from a photo or image of your choice, then applies them to the entire operating system and to the LED back cover. And despite only rocking 2GB of RAM, performance was mostly smooth.

If you don't want a smartphone covered in lights, the A5 LED's back can actually be swapped out for other accessories. Initial options include a battery pack and a speaker. These work similar to Motorola's Moto Mods, although they're not magnetic. My hunch is the battery pack will be useful, and seems like a much more elegant solution than tethering yourself to a portable charger or wall. 

The A5 LED's camera is very much an entry level camera; it does a great job in well lit environments, but you'll be fighting to get a focused, crisp shot when you don't have as much light. Given the price point, that's pretty much what you'd expect. 

The A5 LED is a nifty little device that literally stands out from other phones in a similar price range, and the versatility offered Alcatel's range of interchangeable accessories could make it a pretty budget option. And as weird as the A5 LED is, Alcatel deserves applause for doing something unconventional. 

Camera Samples

When can I buy it?

The Alcatel A5 LED  should hit Australia in May. Alcatel will range it through its forthcoming online store, along with the interchangeable back plates. 

How much will it cost me?

Alcatel Australia representatives say the A5 LED will cost $299. Pricing for other accessories has yet to be confirmed. 

Alcatel Australia contributed funding toward WhistleOut's trip to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress

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