The Alcatel OT-222 is much more than just a basic, pay-as-you-go mobile phone. It's also the answer to a paradox that has confounded humankind for decades. For received wisdom holds that the best things in life are free, but also that there's no such thing as a free lunch -- and yet lunch is definitely one of the best things in life. The Alcatel OT-222, however, is not only effectively available for free, it will also enable you to enjoy free pizzas on Wednesdays.
That's because Asda's web site is currently offering the OT-222 online for £9 with £10 free credit. The phone may be locked to the Orange network, but that means you can take advantage of the operator's two-for-one offer on midweek jaunts to the cinema and Pizza Express. But can a phone like this be anything other than total pants? Allow us to reveal all.
But, first, note that Asda Direct will attempt to levy a £5 delivery charge, even if you opt to pick up the phone from one of its stores. If you spend £25 at once, though, Asda will waive the charge, so we recommend picking up a few ready meals at the same time. If you're too late to take advantage of Asda's promotion, you can still pick this handset up for £9 elsewhere, although you'll have to pay for the £10 top-up yourself.
Flip its lid
The plastic OT-222 isn't unattractive, resembling a shiny, black pebble when the screen is flipped down. We don't think you'll be ashamed to whip it out in public. A blue LED on the front flashes when you've received a message or missed a call, and a small port on the side of the phone lets you connect the mains charger and hands-free headset.
Flipping open the phone reveals its tiny, 37mm (1.5-inch) screen. The OT-222 looks like it could accommodate a display of twice the size, but at least the screen is colour, unlike that of the similarly priced Tesco Party Phone VX1. Beneath the screen sits the keypad, which will prove easy to use if you fall down a manhole at night, thanks to its easy-to-press buttons and blue backlight.
The OT-222 feels cheaper than it looks, mainly because the hinge that connects the display to the rest of the phone wobbles slightly. Despite that, though, the phone feels pretty robust. We dropped it a few times during our test period, without any undesirable consequences. We wish we could say the same about our iPhone.
The handset is fairly small too, measuring about by 44 by 90 by 18mm when closed. That's enough to cause a small bulge in your trousers, but not to the extent that passing mothers will take umbrage and assault you with their handbags.
Simple ain't stupid
The OT-222's simple interface isn't as visually offensive as we expected, but it is fairly click-intensive. You can assign shortcuts to pretty much every key though, so you needn't delve into the interface too often to access basic features like the calculator, calendar, converter, stopwatch or alarm. Incidentally, the alarm fails to sound if you put the phone in silent mode, which might make you late for work in the morning.