Well hello there, what's this chipper little handset hanging out in CNET UK's collective pocket? It's the Alcatel OT-880 of course -- a tiny touchscreen mobile with a pull-out Qwerty keyboard. It's available for around £100 SIM-free, or about £50 on pay as you go with a £10 monthly top-up.
Kidneys and chrome
We're afraid to report this phone ain't all that much to look at. It's quite nicely designed, with its vague kidney shape and chrome trim, but it looks more like a futuristic communicator device than a modern mobile. The OT-880 measures 106 by 57 by 17mm, so, while it's not the slimmest mobile we've ever come across, it's not too chunky and it'll slide into your jeans pocket with no complaints. At 120g it feels just a little insubstantial to hold, and the plastic body makes this mobile feel somewhat cheap. But, y'know -- it is cheap.
Around the edges of the OT-880 there's a slot for a MicroSD card (though this phone offers 60MB of internal memory), mechanical volume keys, a phone lock button, a microUSB port (for charging) and a 3.5mm socket for plugging in your headphones. On the front of the phone, you'll soon get to grips with the OT-880's display.
Resistance is futile
The 64mm (2.5-inch) display is disappointing. It's TFT-resistive, which means you have to press down on the screen itself for your touchscreen-pokes to register. With a resolution of 240x320 pixels, icons and text rendered on this screen look slightly blurry, too. The display itself isn't very bright and is set quite far back from the surface of the phone.
Our buttocks clench with apprehension every time we see a compact, budget phone with a resistive touchscreen. Manufacturers tend to load up the interface with so many densely packed icons that actually hitting the mark and not prodding the wrong thing becomes a monumentally tricky task. Sadly, that's exactly what's happened here. While many of the menu options and icons are chunky and hard to miss, there are some more fiddly on-screen buttons that will test your patience.
It's a shame, because the interface itself is pretty creative. Where most budget touchscreen phones opt for the multiple-home-screen approach, the OT-880 uses only a single, long home screen that you can scroll down through. Icons from the main menu can be added to the home screen by pressing down on them for a moment, and then dragged around for customisation purposes. It's a neat system, and it works well for getting your shortcuts exactly where you want them.
Key to our hearts
The pull-out Qwerty keyboard is bearable, thanks to wide spaces between each key that minimise accidental mis-presses, and a space bar that's separated from the rest of the keys, which is comfy for when you're texting at speed.
There's a 2-megapixel camera glued onto the OT-880's rear. Unfortunately, this camera is plagued by rubbishy hardware and some pretty shonky software. When you hit the shoot button, you end up capturing whatever it is the phone points at several seconds later. That huge delay got very annoying very quickly.
It's good to see 3G connectivity on board. If you're taken with the desire to do a little Web browsing or social networking on this phone, rest assured it'll be relatively quick. There's no Wi-Fi support, however, so you will be limited to mobile Internet.
The camcorder function is also prodigiously bad, producing video that's so blurry and stuttery even an eagle that's had laser eye surgery would struggle to figure out what was going on (or, indeed, why it had laser eye surgery.)
The OT-880 is let down by its poor build quality and cheap plastic casing. The screen is small and doesn't look great, and, while the Qwerty keyboard certainly makes for speedy texting, you can find much better mobiles for the same money.
Check out the LG Town GT350, another keyboard phone that's slightly more slick.
Edited by Emma Bayly