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Friday, 22 January 2021 01:05

Alcatel and TCL's affordable smartphones for the back to school set


With the ACMA's December 2020 study showing 46% of Australian children age 6 to 13 already using mobile phones, its clear that parents are buying them for their children, with sister companies Alcatel and TCL promoting a model each for this age group.

Whether you're an iPhone or Android fan, and whatever age you are, the 21st century is one of technological abundance. Whether you're a child, a silver-haired surfer, or anywhere in between, technology's siren call is hard to resist.

Now, while brand new iPhones and iPads have never been cheaper, with refurbished models of older iPhones and iPads also never more affordable or available, brand new Android phones have always been available at every price point, from the ultra premium Samsungs of the world, through to the sub-$500 and sub-$200 models that are also widely available.

At the lower price points, the quality and capability of such models improves every year too, and while flagship devices with the fastest processors and the most memory will always offer the smoothest and flashiest experiences, entry-level devices do the job for today's smartphone basics, while mid-range devices will offer a better experience.

The first offering is the Alcatel 1SE, which retails for $199 from JB Hi-Fi. While the headline features as a 6.22-inch screen, a triple AI camera, Android 10 and a Google Assistant button which will summon Google so you can ask it questions and get answers, this is a phone for those on a tight budget.

An entry level phone for kids, or even a phone to teach youngsters the art of responsibility - whether it is before you get them a better phone, or as punishment for destroying a more expensive one through recklessness, which can be a trait of at least some of today's youth.

While it has three cameras, a huge screen, an octo-core processor and even a 4000 mAh battery, you're not going to get the quality of photos or the performance of more expensive models, but it has 32GB of storage and 3GB of RAM, so as a starter phone, it will do the job, giving access to Google, the Internet, various apps, games and more.

Here's the official video - please read on thereafter, with a link to responsible parenting for tech usage at the end of the article.


There is a lot of competition from a lot of Android makers at this price point, and there's even refurbished iPhone 6s models aplenty at this price, although the Alcatel 1SE has a much larger screen.

If the budget is higher, there are all kinds of Androids at prices in between this and the $500 mark, with the TCL 10L coming in at $449 from JB Hi-Fi as a more powerful alternative. 

It's bested by the more expensive TCL 10 Pro, but as a first smartphone, this one would also do the job, with four rear cameras and the main one being 48 megapixels, a 6.53-inch display that's great for YouTube videos and other media, 64GB of storage and 6GB RAM, a better speaker than the Alcatel 1SE, and obviously a more powerful processor in the Snapdragon 665, with Quickcharge 3.0, Bluetooth 5.0 and a 4000 mAH battery, among other features.

Here's the official video, the article continues below along with a good site to start with to teach kids responsible use of tech, so please read on!

Again, there's tons of competition in this space, and you can get an iPhone 8 refurbished at a similar price point, although the iPhone 8 would have a smaller screen.

Whichever way you go, every Android vendor hopes you'll be tempted by its offerings, as does Apple, whether you buy new or refurbished, and of course, whether you're using Android or iOS, it's important to activate the parental control features, especially for younger children getting a smartphone for the first time.

It's also important not to let kids get addicted to games, or to sneakily using their smartphones at 2am in the morning instead of sleeping, and to make sure they aren't talking to strangers or predators.

I guess this is why only 46% of kids between 6 and 13 have a smartphone at these ages, with 54% of kids presumably being told no by their parents.

Even so, we live in a technological age, and teaching your children how to use technology responsibly and wisely is something that is clearly important, as are so many other skills in life.

If you do decide to buy your child their own smartphone, then please do your research on parental controls, features, price and value, setting rules for screen time and everything else.

This article on "Responsible mobile phone use for children and teenagers" from the Australian Raising Children website is a good place to start, which I found with a quick search, and you'll find plenty more resources online.

A computer and communications device in your pocket is a powerful tool, and like any tool it can be used for good or otherwise.

With the great power a smartphone delivers comes the great responsibility of using it properly, as Spiderman teaches about his own powers, so I wish you luck and success in your journey to help your children use technology as happily and responsibly as possible.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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