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First look: ASUS ZenFone 3 Laser, ZenFone 3 Max

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While the world awaits the arrival of the ZenFone 3, in Vietnam, two new ASUS budget phones were made official as the company continues its 2016 makeover of popular smartphone spin-offs.

The ASUS ZenFone 3 Laser and ZenFone 3 Max join the ZenFone 3, ZenFone 3 Ultra, and ZenFone 3 Deluxe announced in its native Taiwan last May 2016.

And just like their higher-end cousins, the 2016 Laser and Max feature polished metal unibody designs that look identical and feel better in the hand—not to mention they’re thinner and lighter than their predecessors’. It’s obvious they share the same DNA, but there are different selling points for each phone: a more capable camera for the Laser; a long-lasting battery for the Max.

The designs don’t match the premium aesthetic of the other ZenFone 3 models—we’re not entirely convinced the cases are entirely made of metal—but that can be forgiven.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow is the platform of choice for these latest ZenFones, and this time around, the software nuances that layer the interface are prettier and less intrusive and don’t seem to impact responsiveness too much. Of course, they come with (mostly) upgraded internals as well, which is expected of smartphone successors.

The one thing you won’t find on most budget phones, however, is a fingerprint scanner present on the back of both devices. It’s fast and reliable, though it bears noting the Laser unlocks faster. Neither is as good as the one on the ZenFone 3 or ZenFone 3 Deluxe. For what it’s worth, the scanner on the Laser is oblong in shape; the Max’s has a squarish design with rounded edges.

zenfone-3-laser-camera

Of the two, the ZenFone 3 Laser takes photography more seriously, with a camera bump to show for it. The device sports a 13-megpixel rear camera that takes better photos than the 13-megapixel shooter on the Max, and works well enough to allow for some background blur. There’s also an improved laser autofocus system around the back (which the Max doesn’t have) for quick, crisp shooting.

A 5.5-inch, full-resolution display with curved corners dominates the front of the device, while an octa-core Qualcomm 430 chip backed by 4GB of RAM powers the entire assembly.

The ZenFone 3 Max, meanwhile, is better equipped to handle the rigors of daily use, with its moderately sized 5.2-inch display and 4,100mAh battery and ability to charge other phones or devices.

Zenfones old and new. From left to right Zenfone 3 Max, Zenfone Max, Zenfone 3 Laser, Zenfone 2 Laser

ASUS ZenFones old and new. From left to right: ZenFone 3 Max, ZenFone Max, ZenFone 3 Laser, ZenFone 2 Laser

But although the high-capacity cell is something all road warriors will appreciate, we can’t help but question ASUS’ choice to include a smaller battery than that of the original Max. We suppose a compromise had to be made to come up with a sleeker phone, but time will tell if consumers embrace the decision. Nevertheless, the 3GB of RAM inside the new Max should be plenty for multitasking.

Anyway, you get the idea. Different phones for different types of users—ASUS followed the same formula last year to great success. The company shipped 20.5 million ZenFones in 2015; this year, it has set a grander goal: 25 million units sold globally.

The ZenFone 3 Laser and ZenFone 3 Max are priced at 5,990,000 (around $270) and 4,490,000 ($200) Vietnamese dong, respectively. They’ll soon be available in Vietnam, and a wider rollout is expected in the future. The Philippines might see them hit stores in August at the earliest; India and the rest of the world might have to wait until the third quarter of 2016.

MWC 2018

Alcatel’s new 5, 3, and 1 smartphone series get 18:9 displays and Android Go

All of them have tall displays!

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TCL, the parent company of Alcatel, just launched an army of 18:9 smartphones. Why? Because 2018 smartphones should sport the new aspect ratio to keep up with the trend and you now have a lot to choose from.

Alcatel is proud to present their latest smartphones with a taller display, and they made it available across each of their phone series. The brand also introduced a new design philosophy for its mobile devices called Simganic which is described as human-centric and iconic. The new design language is present on all the new phones starting with…

Alcatel 5 Series

The latest Alcatel 5 brings flagship design for just under EUR 300 with its bezel-less 5.7-inch FullView HD+ 18:9 display encased in a premium brushed metallic unibody. Powering the well-crafted device is a MediaTek 6750 processor (this is really getting old) and boots the dated Android Nougat.

The processing power may be a bit disappointing, but selfie lovers will appreciate the phone’s dual front cameras. It has a combo of a 13-megapixel f/2.0 main selfie shooter, a secondary super wide-angle 5-megapixel camera, and a dedicated front LED flash. For the rear, you get a standard 12-megapixel camera with dual-tone flash.

For security, the Alcatel 5 has a facial recognition feature called Face Key which is claimed to work in less than half a second. If you don’t like scanning your face, the fingerprint reader is just hiding at the back of the phone.

The Alcatel 5 will come in Metallic Black and Metallic Gold for EUR 230 (US$ 280) in select markets that the brand serves.

Alcatel 3 Series

You can always get a cheaper phone with about the same features, and that’s what the Alcatel 3 Series is for. You’re not just getting one choice here but three — Alcatel 3V, Alcatel 3X, and Alcatel 3. All come with 18:9 displays, fingerprint readers, and Face Key unlock.

The Alcatel 3V is the biggest in the series with a 6-inch 2K display, MediaTek MT8735A processor, 2GB of memory, and up to 32GB of expandable storage. It has dual rear cameras with a 12- and 2-megapixel combo for bokeh effect, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. The phone boots Android Oreo out of the box and packs in a 3000mAh battery.

Second in line is the Alcatel 3X which has a 5.7-inch HD+ display, MediaTek 6739 processor, up to 3GB of memory, and up to 32GB of expandable storage. This one also has dual rear cameras (13- and 5-megapixel sensors) and a 5-megapixel shooter for taking selfies. Quite unfortunate that it’s loaded with Android Nougat, but you still get a sizeable 3000mAh battery like the bigger sibling.

The Alcatel 3 is the most modest among the bunch with its 5.5-inch HD+ display, MediaTek 6739 processor, 2GB of memory, and 16GB of expandable storage. It has a 13-megapixel rear shooter and a 5-megapixel selfie camera for photography — pretty basic but will get the job done. Despite being the base phone, the Alcatel 3 gets Android Oreo and 3000mAh battery.

As for pricing and colors, the Alcatel 3V will be available in Spectrum Black, Spectrum Blue, and Spectrum Gold for EUR 190 (US$ 235), while the Alcatel 3X will be on sale for EUR 180 (US$ 220) in two more colors: Metallic Blue, Metallic Gold. The Alcatel 3 will be sold EUR 150 (US$ 185) with the same color options as the 3V.

Alcatel 1 Series

If we’re talking about budget phones, let’s not forget about the most affordable in the lineup. The Alcatel 1X will definitely not break the bank starting at just EUR 100. Even with a cheap price tag, it still comes with a 5.3-inch 18:9 display but with a lower resolution at just 960 x 480. Don’t expect too much from its 8-megapixel rear and 5-megapixel front cameras, but they are there when you need them. The phone has a 2460mAh battery to keep it going and a fingerprint reader along with the Face Key security unlock.

The Alcatel 1X boots Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, but it will also be available with Android Oreo Go Edition in select markets, making it the first Android Go phone of Alcatel.

The phone will come out in April in single and dual-SIM variants for EUR 100 (US$ 125) and EUR 110 (US$ 135), respectively. It’ll be available in two finishes: Suede for the black and blue colors, and satiny for the gold and rose options.

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MWC 2018

TCL gives Android tablets a chance with affordable Alcatel 1T series

Cheap but still up to date!

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Android tablets may not be a common sight nowadays, but that doesn’t mean manufacturers have given up on them. TCL Communication banks on the opportunity of putting affordable slates on the market with the new Alcatel 1T series.

The Alcatel 1T series of tablets is envisioned by the Chinese company as devices that are accessible to consumers, especially to families that share common devices like tablets. The new devices come in two versions — 10-inch and 7-inch.

The bigger tablet is aptly called the Alcatel 1T 10 with its 10.1-inch IPS display that has a resolution of 1280 x 800. It’s powered by a MediaTek MT8321 processor with 1GB of memory and 16GB of expandable storage. Thanks to its size, it comes with a fairly large 4000mAh battery that’s said to last for eight hours on a single charge. Its cameras are basic at just 2 megapixels for both the front and back.

It’s Alcatel’s most affordable 10-inch tablet to come out starting at just EUR 100 or roughly US$ 125 when converted and will come in two colors: Premium Black and Bluish Black. An optional dedicated Bluetooth keyboard and textured cover will also be available as its accessories.

As the series’ mini version, the Alcatel 1T 7 is a lightweight and pocketable option. As the name implies, it has a smaller 7-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1024 x 600. It’s powered by the same processor and memory as the 10-inch version but comes with a lower 8GB of expandable storage. Its cameras are also just 2 megapixels on each side. The smaller tablet has a 2580mAh battery which is claimed to last for 7 hours of usage.

The Alcatel 1T 7 retails for just EUR 70 or about US$ 86. It’ll come in Premium Black and Bluish Black color options, too.

While the two differ in size, they come with the same set of features including Android 8.0 Oreo and a dedicated Kids Mode that’s pre-loaded with apps and content for the young ones. It also has built-in parental control for setting usage limits.

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Accessories

Alcatel introduces their fastest LTE mobile broadband devices

You should get these if you want the speed

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TCL just announced their fastest LTE mobile broadband devices under the Alcatel brand. Two new mobile hotspots join the brand’s Linkzone series — the Linkzone Cat12 and the Linkzone Cat7.

The Alcatel Linkzone Cat12 has maximum download speeds of up to 600Mbps and upload speeds of 100Mbps, but that’s if your telco supports 3-channel LTE carrier aggregation. It’s also one of the smallest pocket Wi-Fi models in the market, but it still has a massive 4300mAh battery. Alcatel claims that the Linkzone Cat12 can deliver 15 straight hours of usage or up to 300 hours of standby time. The device has dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac and can also act as a power bank for other mobile devices.

Then there’s the Alcatel Linkzone Cat7 which might not be as fast as the Cat12 but still has respectable download speeds of up to 300Mbps and upload speeds of 100Mbps using 2-channel LTE carrier aggregation. The mobile Wi-Fi is pocketable, lightweight, and can last for 8 hours on a single charge.

The Linkzone Cat12 and Linkzone Cat7 from Alcatel will be available in select regions around the world starting later this year at EUR 180 (US$ 220) and EUR 100 (US$ 125), respectively.

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