I hate the word, but just can’t think of anything better than cute to describe the soon to be launched Alcatel ICE3 — pronounced Ice Cube. Initially, I thought they’d sent me a mascara box instead of the phone for review. It was only with a closer inspection that I realised that this was actually a clamshell model which opened up to reveal a full Qwerty keyboard and a 2.4” 65k colour TFT screen. When switched on, the small LCD on the outer shell shows the time, flickers new messages, missed calls and battery status.
The homescreen has a quick menu sidebar which gives you easy access to the contact list, messages and the browser. Interestingly, clicking on the right/left buttons on any of them shows more options, like bookmarks when you are on the browser.
The full menu is on the right click button — there are actually two left and two right buttons on both sides of the main cube button — which gives you all regular menu settings as well as apps like FaceBook, the Opera Mini browser, Twitter, instant messaging and the like. In fact, all these apps can be moved to the homescreen too, an option that makes this an ideal phone for social networking junkies. Plus the phone also features E-mail POP3, IMAP4 to keep you linked 24/7.
The ICE3 also features a 2 mp camera on the outer shell, plus the option of easily sharing you photos with friends and contacts. The phone has a decent MP3 Player and a very sharp FM Radio. But the phone does not have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. In fact, everything from charging to download will have to be done through the single USB jack, which is both good and bad. While this leaves the phone body relatively unblemished with just one cavity, it also means you can’t boost your music experience with a better set of headphones.
The inbuilt memory is 80MB and phone can take in Micro SD cards of up to 8GB. The company claims its Lithium 850 mAh battery has a talk time of up to nine hours and a standby of 450 hours, but that will have to be put to test. The phone also features the now standard EDGE class 12 downlink, GPRS Class 12, WAP 2.0, Bluetooth stereo 2.0 (A2DP), USB 2.0 and JAVA MIDP 2.0.
The width of the phone —it is about a centimeter wider than the Nokia E series and BlackBerry — will take some getting used to, and might even put off some prospective buyers. On the bright side, this also means you have more real estate on the homescreen. But the designers need to work on the display and fonts a bit as they remind me of an early generation Motorola.
The ICE3 is cool with great performance and contemporary features, but is still a bit girlish for my taste. However, there is no doubt that the phone, Alcatel’s return to the Indian market, is great value for money at Rs 6,500.