Alcatel Go Play Review: Waterproof and budget-friendly |

Alcatel Go Play Review: Waterproof and budget-friendly

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Alcatel’s Go Play offers a colorful mid-range alternative with excellent waterproofing features.

Dropping your phone into water is generally bad news. That’s not a startling comment to make (although if you have just dunked your phone, our guide on what to do may be some help.

There have only been a small handful of waterproof phones in the marketplace, despite it being quite the killer of handsets, but to date it’s a feature that has been the province of higher end premium handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 or the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium. Alcatel’s usual modus operandi is to enter the market with a basic or mid-range handset with just a few key killer features. In the case of the Go Play, it’s the inclusion of waterproofing.

Alcatel Go Play
OSAndroid 5.0 (“Marshmallow”)
Screen size5in
Display density294ppi
ProcessorQuad Core 1.2 GHz CPU
Rear camera8MP
Front camera5MP


Upsides: Why you’d want the Alcatel Go Play

  • Waterproofing works really well: We’ll admit we had our doubts as to how robust a $180 smartphone would actually be, but the Go Play survived everything we threw at it, including multiple underwater dunkings. It uses the same approach as the Samsung Galaxy S5, with a protective flap over the microSD charging port that needs to be shut off to protect its internals. You may even have some luck operating it while immersed; we noted that while taking photos of it under a tap, the flow of water was able to trigger onscreen elements.
  • Bright, colourful design: Most cheap smartphones have utilitarian designs, but that’s not a criticism you can make of the Alcatel Go Play, which opts for a very 80s-feeling neon back on the phone, with a simple flat face.
  • Exceptional battery life: It’s usual in the budget space to see compromised battery life, but this wasn’t our experience with the Alcatel Go Play, which managed to very handily beat out a wide variety of much higher profile competitors in Geekbench’s battery test.
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+8:24:105041
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus7:48:104681
    Alcatel Go Play7:21:102941
    Google Nexus 5X7:14:204062
    Samsung Galaxy S66:51:304115
    Google Nexus 6P6:39:203754
    Alcatel OneTouch Idol 35:42:002276
    Sony Xperia Z55:41:303414
    LG G45:27:503224
    Huawei P8 Lite4:39:402768
    Apple iPhone 6s3:52:102321

    Its success does have to be tempered by the fact that it’s not packing the fastest processor by a long shot, but for practical purposes this is a phone that should very easily last you through the day.

  • Acceptable camera: Again, in the budget space camera optics can be woeful. The Go Play isn’t going to put the premium players under any real pressure, and it’s notably not much cop in low light situations, but given its price point its camera is perfectly acceptable.


Downsides: Why you might not want the Alcatel Go Play

  • Garish design choices: You may or may not like the Go Play’s throwback coloring, and that’s a personal call. Alcatel’s basic Google launcher uses rounded icons that lack panache, and while it’s Android, so you can skin it as you like, out of the box it’s quite garish.
  • Low processor performance: There’s a price to pay for the Go Play’s battery life, and that’s in the performance stakes. We didn’t expect the Go Play to seriously challenge the premium range, but even in the entry to mid-level stakes, it’s a slow performer in day-to-day usage, something that was made even more stark when we threw Geekbench’s benchmark at it.
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better)
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+14924893
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge13244626
    Google Nexus 6P12514597
    Samsung Galaxy S613474569
    Apple iPhone 6S25404410
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus24914391
    Sony Xperia Z513584134
    LG G411903313
    Google Nexus 5X11883198
    Oppo F16923083
    Huawei P8 Lite5822612
    Alcatel OneTouch Idol 36552461
    Alcatel Go Play4531368
  • Waterproofing will only take you so far: Alcatel’s image of the Go Play in the bubble bath above might give you the impression it’s bath-friendly. It’s a tad more complex than that; while the Go Play is IP67 rated, that’s for immersion in fresh water. Chances are reasonable that it would survive a quick dip in the hot suds, but technically it’s only “proof” against clean water, not anything with soap (or salt, chlorine, or anything else) in it.


Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?

Like much of Alcatel’s output, the Go Play is strongly targeted at a budget-centric cell phone buyer. If that’s you and you consistently find yourself in environments that would kill other smartphones, at the $180 asking price it’s a solid proposition.

Within the budget space you’ve got plenty of other choices. There are handsets that have been specifically priced and targeted in this space, such as the Huawei P8 Lite or the Oppo F1, for example.

However, if you want waterproofing your choices become more limited, because that’s typically been a premium handset feature. If the budget permits the Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and Sony Xperia Z5 Premium are all great phones, but you could buy three to four Alcatel Go Play phones for the outright asking price of those handsets. Your best bet might be the phone that the Alcatel Go Play’s rubber base flap reminds us most of, the Samsung Galaxy S5 if you can find one outright. Alternately, that’s a handset still sold on budget contract.

Where can I get it?

The Alcatel Go Play is sold through traditional retailers with an asking price of $180.

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