2.0 Software, Performance & Battery Life
I have mixed feeling on the software loaded on the Alcatel OneTouch Flash 2. It is running Android 5.1 Lollipop, which is actually quite new given that Android 6.0 Marshmallow is just available for a very short time. While there is no promise on future Android version upgrade, it is nice to have a relatively new version so that your device will not get obsolete that soon.
The best part about the software is that it is very clean. Alcatel OneTouch has done almost zero customization here so we have a near-stock version of Android here. This means that the user interface is good looking and very consistent as Google’s Material design take the main stage everywhere. I really like this approach where no changes were made for the sake of changing. The “less is more” approach will help in improving performance, which is something really necessary on lower-end devices. We shall discuss more on the performance later.
The strategy to keep things simple is definitely a welcomed move for people who like stock Android. This is very rare among budget-friendly phones. However, for people who are used to have tonnes of features on their phones, they might think that Alcatel OneTouch is a little lazy on the software side. So if you are looking for a purer Android experience without breaking your bank, you are looking at the right place.
The clean software experience also means that there is also not much bloatware on board. You have all the basic applications like Notes and Calendar plus a proprietary app store named “zApp”. zApp is useful in China where the Google PlayStore is not available. Since we already have the better PlayStore over here, I am not sure why Alcatel OneTouch did not remove it. Anyway, you have the choice to disable it.
Of course, Alcatel OneTouch did add in their own feature. The Smart Awake feature will allow you to double tap the screen to wake the phone from sleep. You also can draw characters or swipe on the phone to activate the apps or actions you set. However, the execution is not perfect. The double tap and other gestures do not work all the time, which is quite frustrating and I ended up pushing the power button quite often. The preset actions will not work if you have a passcode too. I don’t think this is by design so a fix is definitely needed here. What I heard from Alcatel OneTouch is that they are aware of this and they will fix it via a software update. Luckily, you can double tap on the empty space of the home screen to put the phone into sleep and this works every time.
The stability of the software definitely needs some improvement here. While I don’t have the exact number, I feel that the frequency of app crashes on the Flash 2 is slightly higher than other Android phones I have used recently. It is not really bad to the extend that all apps will stop working anytime; it’s just that it will happen and I don’t think anyone will like that. There are also weird things like the alarm will not ring if you silent your phone. The software definitely needs some polishing and I really hope the company will deliver the fixes so that the Flash 2 can live up to its potential. This is why I said I have mixed feeling about the software.
The Flash 2 is powered by Mediatek MT6753 chipset which has 64 bit architecture, 8 Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.3GHz and Mali-T720MP3 GPU. So how do these specifications translate into real-world performance? Well, it is quite snappy, despite its low price suggesting otherwise. Without the load of bloatware and unnecessary features on the software side like most phones do, the performance of the Flash 2 is very smooth. Android Lollipop has a lot of animations and the framerate of those rich animations is not too shabby at all. Navigation around the user interface and handling all the basic stuffs are not a trouble for the Flash 2.
So what about your favorite games? Surprisingly, the chipset can handle all games I tried quite well. The loading process might take a while, but once you got into the game, there is basically not much frame skips. The phone does not even heat up by a lot. It is nice to know that we have reached the stage where almost all phones can handle most games. Of course, you cannot expect that it will provide the same level of graphic performance provided by more expensive phones.
With 2GB of RAM on board, changing between smaller applications will not require reloading them all over again. This allows you to perform simple multitasking easily. However, you just can’t expect it to handle 2 or more heavy tasks at the same time. The process will get killed while you swap to the other apps, just like all phones with that amount of RAM.
Other than the occasional app crashes mentioned earlier, I feel quite comfortable with the performance of the phone. I would say it is really fast, but not even once did I feel impatient about it. I guess the combination of respectable amount of RAM, lighter software and capable chipset is the recipe to achieve such satisfying performance.
The Flash 2 has a 3,000 mAh battery, which is quite big for a phone with 5” display. Since it does not have the speediest processor, the densest display and heavily customized software, I have a high expectation on the battery life. With a full charge, the Flash 2 will last for around 15-16 hours, with around 4 hours of screen-on time. Even if you game a lot, it is unlikely that you will find yourself with a dead phone before you reach home after dinner. So you can rest assured that battery life is not going to be an issue here.
But every phone will be running out of juice sooner or later and you will need to charge it. No fast charging technology is found here. The battery is non-removable too so you cannot swap the battery once the battery is low. You have to depend on the included 5V 1A charger, which is quite slow by today’s standard, to charge the Flash 2. Charging from 0% to 100% will take roughly 3 hours.