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Can This Alcatel Phablet Help Windows Phone in the U.S.?

LAS VEGAS—Windows 10 Mobile lives, at T-Mobile! Microsoft’s mobile phone platform has had a rocky start here in the U.S. AT&T isn’t heavily promotingMicrosoft’s Lumia 950, and the other Windows phones in carrier lineups are typically older devices. But an affordable, large-screen Windows phone at T-Mobile may really help the platform with beginner smartphone users.

 

 

But that’s okay. This phone will cost only $139.99 up front (or $5.84/month), which is an awesome price for a 5.5-inch smartphone. The Fierce XL is targeting less techie smartphone users who may haveWindows 10 tablets or desktops, or may be attracted to Windows 10 Mobile’s simple interface of live tiles. That’s always been a core advantage of the Windows Phone platform, albeit one that hasn’t attracted many users here in the U.S., where Windows Phone keeps struggling with under 3 percent market share.

I found the Fierce XL to be simple to use, although it’s a touch sluggish compared to the much faster, Snapdragon 808-powered Lumia 950. Windows Phone has always been efficient on slow processors, but the UI here had a little bit of drag. It’s not a flagship. The rounded, plastic phone has a blue back, and honestly it’s a pretty generic feeling body. It doesn’t have much personality. It’s about simple functionality at an affordable price.

I’m excited, though, for how Alcatel is using its low-end phones to start to push the unlocked phone marketplace forward in the U.S. The company showed me some endcaps where it’s selling its Pixi 3 phones in Best Buy, unlocked, almost disposably, like the phone equivalent of the $49 Amazon Fire tablet. If people start picking these up for their kids or for international trips, we’ll start to see cracks in Samsung and Apple’s massive dominance of our phone market, and that means more good choices for everyone.

The Fierce XL with Windows 10 Mobile should be available today at T-Mobile.

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