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Review Alcatel One Touch Ultra 997D Smartphone

Sabine Kückemanns (translated by Martina Osztovits), 05/17/2013

A Mid-range smartphone. The Chinese company TCT has released a new smartphone under the Alcatel branding which carries the features that we typically see in a mid-range smartphone. We evaluate the One Touch 997D which comes with dual-SIM support.

For the original German review, see here.

Alcatel, a brand name known from the early days of mobile telephony, released the One Touch Ultra 997D recently. However, our test sample does not resemble the colorful, large devices that populated the market when cellular technology was in its infancy. The 11 mm thick smartphone with dual SIM support from the Chinese manufacturer TCT Mobile features a 4.3 inch touchscreen with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. It comes with a Mediatek MT6577 dual core CPU clocked at 1 GHz, 1 GB RAM and an internal storage capacity of 4 GB which can be extended with a microSD card

The smartphone is available for about 250 Euros (~$320) in three colors. It still runs Android 4.0 also called Ice Cream Sandwich which has been updated to Android Version 4.2, Jelly Bean. We will see if the OS can be updated and how the test sample performs in comparison to its competitors in our review.  

Case

Wie wir testen - Gehäuse

The case of the Alcatel One Touch 997 D Ultra is made from grippy plastics
The case of the Alcatel One Touch 997 D Ultra is made from high grip plastics

The 123 x 68 x 11 mm (L x B x T) case of the Alcatel smartphone is black and anthracite combination. With a weight of 143 gram, it is light and comfortable in the hand. Other than, say, the Apple iPhone, which uses mineral fiber, the rear is made of plastic. It looks inconspicuous, but not ugly as the anthracite-colored surface  glitters slightly and gives the plastic case a subtle metallic effect. Furthermore, the slightly rippled texture on the lower area of the back improves the grip. The finish is a "liquid repellent nano-coating" which should protect the device from splash water.

The front side is dominated by piano black plastic components. The case is surrounded by a glossy bezel and has rounded edges. The gaps are even and the build quality is precise. The smartphone can be easily opened at a small recess on its right towards the bottom. It is similarly easy to remove the battery.

Volume control and power button are made from a glossy, chrome-colored material and look simple and elegant. They can be easily found and are comfortable to reach.

Overall, the Alcatel One Touch Ultra 997D appears to be solid and leaves a positive impression despite cheap plastic parts. It passed our torsion tests with only slight creaking. Considering a price of about 250 Euros (~$320), the case is alright.

Connectivity

Wie wir testen - Gehäuse

The One Touch Ultra 997D from Alcatel features a Mediatek MT6577 dual core CPU with a clock rate of 1 GHz, 1 GB RAM, and 4 GB internal memory. Similar dual SIM phones like the Amoi N821 or the Sony Xperia E  come with a similar storage capacity of 2 and 4 GB while more expensive smartphones offer 16 GB and more. But, the storage capacity can be extended by up to 32 GB with a microSD card.

The device has a micro USB-2.0 high speed port which is also used for charging, and a 3.5 mm audio jack for headphones. Furthermore, it features two SIM card slots.

Volume control
Volume control
Power button and 3.5 mm jack
Power button and 3.5 mm jack
Camera and speaker
Camera and speaker
micro USB 2.0
micro USB 2.0
GPS works
GPS works

Software

The One Touch Ultra 997D still runs the outdated Android version 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. According to the manufacturer, they will release an update to Jelly Bean, Android 4.1 in the summer but it is not known yet when exactly this will take place. Further information about the update should be available on the Alcatel web site around this time.  

Communication & GPS 

The test device supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/nBluetooth 4.0 can be used for data transfer over short distances. The slim smartphone also comes with a GPS module. The initial location estimation is done within few minutes. The reception is stable but indoors you need to be close to a window.

Telephone functions

With the One Touch Ultra 997D, Alcatel offer a smartphone with dual SIM support. The mini SIM cards have to be inserted into the two slots one below the other at the back. First, you have to remove the back-cover to access the battery area. Then you can insert the cards into the two slots beside the battery. Two pictures etched on the surface inside the phone inform you about the correct orientation. After the phone is booted, you can launch the telephone functions by swiping from the top of the screen to the bottom. Two icons, one for each phone provider, is displayed and you can specify the standard SIM for outgoing calls and undo your choice by tapping the same. Switching between the two cards works without problems and the phone reacts immediately when you switch from one service provider to the other. The phone receives calls to both mobile numbers with no hiccups.

Cameras & Multimedia

The Alcatel smartphone can also take pictures. Only the 8 MP back camera is sufficient for snapshots. The manufacturer does not specify the resolution of the front camera. It is simply called web cam and is not capable of being anything but.

Rear camera: 8 MP
Rear camera: 8 MP
Front camera/web cam
Front camera/web cam
Reference camera: Nikon D80
Reference camera: Nikon D80

Accessories

Apart from a quick start guide, a micro USB charger and a stereo headset (3.5 mm jack) are included.

Warranty

Alcatel offer a warranty of 12 month. 

Input Devices & Handling

The dual SIM capable smartphone from Alcatel features a 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen which did well in our tests. The Amoi N821 available for a price below 200 Euros (~$260) from another Chinese supplier also supports two SIM cards and a similar screen. The screen registered all inputs very well.

The virtual keyboard has the usual size. Inputs can be done with a single hand and it is easy to hit the keys precisely. The input via the capacitive display is reliable and straight forward.

Display

Wie wir testen - Display

With a maximum brightness of 371 cd/mat the center of the 800 x 480 pixels TFT display, the Alcatel One Touch Ultra 997D performs slightly better than the less-expensive Amoi N821 (maximum: 337 cd/m2) dual-sim smartphone and the Sony Xperia E dual (maximum: 335 cd/m2). The latter also supports two SIM cards.

357
cd/m²
362
cd/m²
347
cd/m²
344
cd/m²
371
cd/m²
354
cd/m²
353
cd/m²
368
cd/m²
347
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 371 cd/m²
Average: 355.9 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 93 %
Center on Battery: 71 cd/m²
Black: 0.35 cd/m²
Contrast: 1060:1

At 0.35 cd/m2, the Alcatel device has a rather low black value. So you'll experience deep blacks which make the dark areas in a movie look good with details popping out in the shadows. The display has decent contrast-with rich colors, very typical of a device in this price category.

The color measurements with the CalMAN 5 software and the Colorimeter X-Rite i1Pro 2 prove a rather decent representation of colors and gray levels. Yellow and magenta are not very accurate, but overall, the device performs well here.

Colors
Colors
Gray levels
Gray levels
Color saturation
Color saturation
Outdoors
Outdoors

A smartphone designed for mobile use should have a legible display outdoors. We appreciate the fact that the phone performs rather well outdoors. With a brightness of above 300 cd/m2, as long as direct sunlight is avoided, there are no issues using the phone outdoors. We must reiterate the fact that nearly all its competitors have trouble succeeding in this test.

In terms of viewing angles, the display performs well. It remains legible at very acute viewing angles. We could neither observe color inversions nor excessive darkening. Only direct sunlight spoils the view. The reflective surface has a negative impact here too. Overall, the display does not deserve much criticism.

Performance

Wie wir testen - Leistung

With the Mediatek MT6577 dual core CPU clocked at 1 GHz and a Power-VR SGX 531 graphics card, our review sample features the same CPU and GPU as the Amoi N82. But, the significantly cheaper Amoi which is available for about 180 Euros (~$235), already runs the current Android Version Jelly Bean, while our test sample uses Ice Cream Sandwich

In Androbench, the three competitors, the Amoi N821, the Sony Xperia E Dual and the Alcatel are about on par. Each of them is the fastest in atleast one run of the benchmark. Only the Alcatel's Random Read score of 9.45 MB/s is significantly better than the competitors. In the Antutu v3 benchmark it gets the second place with 6212 points. The Amoi achieves 6746 points and is slightly faster, while the Sony Xperia E only recieved 5517 points.  

AndroBench 3
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Alcatel OneTouch Ultra 997D
SGX531, MT6577, 4 GB Flash
26.62 MB/s ∼15%
Amoi N821
SGX531, MT6577, 2 GB NAND Flash
30.46 MB/s ∼17% +14%
Sony Xperia E dual
Adreno 200, S1 MSM7227A, 4 GB Flash
32.37 MB/s ∼18% +22%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Alcatel OneTouch Ultra 997D
SGX531, MT6577, 4 GB Flash
5.18 MB/s ∼9%
Amoi N821
SGX531, MT6577, 2 GB NAND Flash
5.69 MB/s ∼10% +10%
Sony Xperia E dual
Adreno 200, S1 MSM7227A, 4 GB Flash
4.74 MB/s ∼8% -8%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Alcatel OneTouch Ultra 997D
SGX531, MT6577, 4 GB Flash
9.54 MB/s ∼45%
Amoi N821
SGX531, MT6577, 2 GB NAND Flash
8.44 MB/s ∼40% -12%
Sony Xperia E dual
Adreno 200, S1 MSM7227A, 4 GB Flash
7.56 MB/s ∼36% -21%
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Alcatel OneTouch Ultra 997D
SGX531, MT6577, 4 GB Flash
0.27 MB/s ∼9%
Amoi N821
SGX531, MT6577, 2 GB NAND Flash
0.26 MB/s ∼8% -4%
Sony Xperia E dual
Adreno 200, S1 MSM7227A, 4 GB Flash
0.23 MB/s ∼7% -15%
AnTuTu Benchmark v3 - Total Score (sort by value)
Alcatel OneTouch Ultra 997D
SGX531, MT6577, 4 GB Flash
6212 Points ∼17%
Amoi N821
SGX531, MT6577, 2 GB NAND Flash
6745 Points ∼19% +9%
Sony Xperia E dual
Adreno 200, S1 MSM7227A, 4 GB Flash
5517 Points ∼15% -11%

The graphical performance of our test sample is not convincing. The Alcatel completely refused to run GL Benchmark 2.5.1. LIke the Amoi N821 with the same CPU and GPU, the benchmark repeatedly crashed when we tried to run it. 

The NenaMark Benchmark ended with a result of 23.8 fps which is slower than the two devices in our comparison. The test sample achieved 9.19 fps in Basemark ES 2.0 and outperforms the Amoi N821 here. 

NenaMark2 - --- (sort by value)
Alcatel OneTouch Ultra 997D
SGX531, MT6577, 4 GB Flash
23.8 fps ∼35%
Amoi N821
SGX531, MT6577, 2 GB NAND Flash
24.1 fps ∼36% +1%
Sony Xperia E dual
Adreno 200, S1 MSM7227A, 4 GB Flash
27.4 fps ∼41% +15%
Basemark ES 2.0 - Taiji Free (sort by value)
Alcatel OneTouch Ultra 997D
SGX531, MT6577, 4 GB Flash
9.19 fps ∼15%
Amoi N821
SGX531, MT6577, 2 GB NAND Flash
7.78 fps ∼13% -15%
Amoi N821
SGX531, MT6577, 2 GB NAND Flash
7.78 fps ∼13% -15%
Amoi N821
SGX531, MT6577, 2 GB NAND Flash
7.78 fps ∼13% -15%
Amoi N821
SGX531, MT6577, 2 GB NAND Flash
7.78 fps ∼13% -15%
Sony Xperia E dual
Adreno 200, S1 MSM7227A, 4 GB Flash
11.54 fps ∼19% +26%

With a score of 1377 points, the Alcatel One Touch Ultra 997D is the fastest device of the three in Browsermark 2.0. In Google V8 Version 7, it achieves 1290 points and got second place. 

 

 

Browsermark - --- (sort by value)
Alcatel OneTouch Ultra 997D
SGX531, MT6577, 4 GB Flash
1377 points ∼19%
Amoi N821
SGX531, MT6577, 2 GB NAND Flash
804 points ∼11% -42%
Sony Xperia E dual
Adreno 200, S1 MSM7227A, 4 GB Flash
811 points ∼11% -41%
Google V8 Ver. 7 - Google V8 Ver. 7 Score (sort by value)
Alcatel OneTouch Ultra 997D
SGX531, MT6577, 4 GB Flash
1055 Points ∼6%
Amoi N821
SGX531, MT6577, 2 GB NAND Flash
1290 Points ∼7% +22%
Sony Xperia E dual
Adreno 200, S1 MSM7227A, 4 GB Flash
705 Points ∼4% -33%

Games

If you are not demanding, the Alcatel smartphone suffices for occasional gaming. The resource-light Angry Birds runs smoothly. You can even play the slightly more demanding Raging Thunder II race simulation, but it does stutter sometimes.

Angry Birds runs smoothly
Angry Birds runs smoothly

In terms of speech quality the Alcatel One Touch 997 D Ultra performs well. Subjectively, the speech quality of incoming calls is good and the caller voice sounds loud, clear, and natural. The same is true for outgoing calls. The hand-free function also works fine and the sound quality is on par with the normal phone mode.

Emissions

Wie wir testen - Emissionen

Temperature

We could not detect any hotspot when we measured the temperature in 18 areas on the front and the rear side of the case. Under full load, it reaches a maximum of 39.5 degrees Celsius, while the Amoi N821's maximum temperature is 41 degrees. While idle, we only measured 31.3 degrees Celsius. The power adapter never gets critically warm and reaches 33.8 degrees Celsius under load and 29.4 degrees Celsius while idle.  

Max. Load
 28.6 °C31.2 °C38.2 °C 
 28.8 °C31.5 °C39.5 °C 
 28.7 °C31.2 °C37.1 °C 
Maximum: 39.5 °C
Average: 32.8 °C
36.6 °C31.6 °C27.9 °C
36.9 °C31.5 °C28.8 °C
35.5 °C31.7 °C28.1 °C
Maximum: 36.9 °C
Average: 32.1 °C
Power Supply (max.)  33.8 °C | Room Temperature 21.4 °C | Voltcraft IR-350

Speaker

The sound from the speaker on the back is decent for a smartphone. The slightly tinny, yet rich sound suffices for background music of games. If you want to enjoy music, you can connect the included in-ear headphones to the 3.5 mm jack.

Energy Management

Wie wir testen - Akkulaufzeit

Power consumption

Is the test sample very power-hungry? No, the Alcatel One Touch Ultra 997D is not. While idle, it just needs 0.5 Watts with minimum brightness and deactivated Wi-Fi modules. With maximum brightness and Wi-Fi modules enabled, it requires 1.2 Watts. Although the device is not really frugal under load, it still performs well. During the stability test, the power consumption is 3.6 Watts. In comparison, the Sony Xperia E dual SIM competition only needs 2.1 Watts. 

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.0 / 0.1 Watt
Idle 0.5 / 1 / 1.2 Watt
Load 3.1 / 3.6 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Life

The 6.6 Wh lithium ion battery of the Alcatel One Touch Ultra 997D runs out after 12 hours and 6 minutes when running the Reader's Test with minimum brightness and disabled Wi-Fi modules. The Amoi N821 is about on par with a runtime slightly above 12 hours. The more-realistic Wi-Fi surf test -at a display brightness of about 150 cd/m2 - runs for about 5 hours and 12 minutes on a single charge. The Sony Xperia E achieves significantly longer battery life of 9 hours and 55 minutes. Under full load, the test device shuts down after 3 hours and 12 minutes and exceeds the battery life of 2 hours 43 minutes of the Amoi N821.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
12h 06min
WiFi Surfing
5h 12min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 12min

Verdict

Wie wir testen - Fazit

Solid performance: Das Alcatel One Touch 997 D Ultra
Solid performance: Das Alcatel One Touch 997 D Ultra

Who would be the target audience for this type of device?  If you want to primarily use a smartphone for telephony and occasional web surfing and e-mails, the 250 Euro device could be a good choice for you. Its dual SIM support is an advantage. It allows you to combine your business and your private phone number in one device.

The device is definitely not premium. The case looks simple, but not cheap. The battery life with the 1800 mAh lithium ions battery should be a little bit longer. Another drawback is the outdated Android Version 4.0. However, an update to Jelly Bean should be available this summer. Anyway, you have to live with small drawbacks if you go for a cheap device which is pretty suitable for everyday use.

The device is definitely sufficient for everyday tasks. Although it is not the best equipped, it performs well. At 300 cd/m2, the display is very bright and the viewing angles are decent. The capacitive touchscreen responds well to user inputs.  No doubt the graphics performance could be better. The device completely refused the GL benchmark, but if you do not want to play games, the Alcatel is a good choice.

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In review: Alcatel One Touch Ultra 997D, by courtesy of
In review: Alcatel One Touch Ultra 997D, by courtesy of

Specifications

Alcatel OneTouch Ultra 997D

:: Processor
:: Memory
512 MB
:: Graphics adapter
:: Display
4.3 inch , 800x480 pixel, capacitive, TFT, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
4 GB Flash, 4 GB
:: Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm jack, Card Reader: microSD up to 32 GB, Sensors: accelerometer, e-Compass, A-GPS, gyroscope,
:: Networking
802.11 b/g/n (b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth, HSPA
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 11 x 123 x 68
:: Weight
0.143 kg Power Supply: 0.08 kg
:: Battery
6.66 Wh Lithium-Ion, 1800 mAh
Talk time 2G (according to manufacturer): 636 h, Talk time 3G (according to manufacturer): 510 h, Standby 2G (according to manufacturer): 2400 h, Standby 3G (according to manufacturer): 2100 h
:: Price
249 Euro
:: Operating System
Android 4.0
:: Additional features
Webcam: Rear 8 MP, Front 0,3 MP, Speakers: mono, Keyboard: virtual, 24 Months Warranty, GSM Quadband 1900/850/1800/900, UMTS EU 900/2100 MHz; Music Player: AAC, AAC+, AAC Enhanced, WB AMR, MP3, Midi, eAAC

 

[+] compare
A plain box, ...
Plain box, ...
... and a plain plastic case
... and plain plastics case
The display is decent.
The display is decent.
Camera and speaker
Camera and speaker
The device is comfortable to hold.
The device is handy.
Plastic back-cover
Plastics cover
Slim
Slim
The keys on the phone have a decent size.
The keys of the phone have a decent size.
The same is true for the keys of the virtual keyboard.
The same is true for the keys of the virtual keyboard.
A headset with in-ear headphones is included.
A headset with in-ear headphones is included.
Power adapter with USB cable
Power adapter with USB cable

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Links

  • Manufacturer's information

Compare Prices

Pro

+handy
+good value for money
+decent display
+solid build quality
 

Cons

-outdated Android version 4.0
-short battery life
-weak graphics performance
-case is primarily made from plastics

Shortcut

What we like

The display performs surprisingly well.

What we would like to see

The new Android version, Jelly Bean. When will it finally be available? 

What surprises us

The GL graphics benchmark could not be run.

The competition

The Amoi N821 and the Sony Xperia E are dual-SIM smartphones, too. 

Rating

Alcatel OneTouch Ultra 997D
08/05/2013 v3
Sabine Kückemanns

Chassis
81%
Keyboard
49%
Pointing Device
84%
Connectivity
40%
Weight
100%
Battery
92%
Display
86%
Games Performance
20%
Application Performance
37%
Temperature
86%
Noise
100%
Add Points
74%
Average
71%
84%
Smartphone *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Alcatel One Touch Ultra 997D Smartphone
Author: Sabine Kückemanns, 2013-05-17 (Update: 2013-06- 6)