Okay, so the Alcatel A5 LED isn’t technically touted as an “RGB smartphone” – although we like to think it is – but it does feature a particularly…showy LED-illuminated back cover. But aside from its unique rear panel, the Alcatel A5 LED is just your regular mid-range smartphone.
That is, until you think of the possibility that Alcatel may be going the modular route with its mid-range devices. While we were at the company’s booth at MWC 2017, we decided to take the A5 LED for a quick spin. When describing its new device with a particularly bright and colourful back panel, Alcatel calls it a “sneak peek” of the future.
On paper, the A5 LED is as mid-range as it gets. It features a 5.2-inch 720p IPS display, a MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor paired with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, 8MP rear and 5MP front-facing cameras, as well as a 2,800mAh battery. Not a very impressive list of specifications, no, but the A5 LED’s back cover? It’s removable.
Now, this may not seem like a very big deal, but there are two other back covers for the A5 LED: there’s a speaker case (much like the JBL SoundBoost Moto Mod for the Moto Z), as well as a battery pack, which extends the battery life of the device. Oddly enough, Alcatel won’t confirm if these back covers will go on sale in the future – even the A5 LED itself doesn’t have a release date or a retail price.
Ambiguity aside, the A5 LED does feel rather solid for a mid-range device, and who can ignore the flashy LED-illuminated back cover? To control the lighting of the cover, there’s a dedicated app for it. With the app, I can choose what kind of lighting effect I’d like to use, and I can even customise it to alert myself of incoming calls, notifications, or even – ironically enough – low battery warning.
Navigating around the A5 LED’s user interface, on the other hand, isn’t a very smooth experience; it’s evident that the MT6753 processor powering the device isn’t much of a workhorse. But hey, this is a lower mid-range smartphone, so some sacrifices are really expected along the way.
Speaking of sacrifices, the A5 LED’s camera isn’t very good either. Basically, its camera feels…sluggish. It’s not very responsive, it has difficultly getting the right amount of exposure quickly, and the image quality itself is nothing to shout about. Again, the A5 LED isn’t a high-end smartphone: it’s what Alcatel calls “the world’s first interactive LED-covered smartphone.”
The Alcatel A5 LED isn’t a phone that will impress consumers with high-end internals. Rather, it’s a device that has the potential to be something even more interesting down the road. If Alcatel will indeed start offering a modular smartphone a la the Moto Z (but at a lower price point) sometime in the future – sign me up.