Although we’ve seen Alcatel capable of coming up with something more than low specced dirt-cheap smartphones in the past, the French company’s focus remains to “provide customers with devices at prices affordable on any budget”.

On that note, US Cellular has just unveiled the Alcatel OneTouch Premiere, a 2.8-inch Gingerbread-based phone equipped with a non-slider full QWERTY keyboard. The Premiere is already up for grabs over at USC’s official website, going for $29.99 with a new two-year carrier agreement. The offer includes a $50 mail-in rebate, so you’ll have to be ready to actually pay $79.99 upfront.

However, if that feels a bit steep for such a low-ender, you have to know that US Cellular’s “applicable smartphone data plans” start at $20 a month, which is well below the usually required plans of the more “dominant” carriers in the US, like Verizon, AT&T or Sprint.

The OT Premiere is obviously not what you would call a phone with a lot of “oomph”, but it does have a pretty interesting “personality”. Come to think of it, this could be an attractive (and much cheaper) alternative for RIM’s BlackBerries. The 2.8-incher is clearly designed with students and businessmen in mind, with a focus on functionality, messaging and social networking.

Running Android 2.3 Gingerbread with no ICS upgrade planned just yet, the Premiere comes with a bunch of pre-loaded apps, including Accuweather, Amazon Audible and Amazon Shopping. There’s no mention anywhere on USC’s website about the phone’s processor, RAM or on-board storage space (which is usually not a very good sign), but the carrier does throw in a free 2 GB memory card to sweeten the deal.

Other features include a pretty modest 2 MP rear-facing camera with LED flash, 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth and a 1,300 mAh Li-Ion battery supposedly capable of running for up to 5 hours talk time.

Sporting a QVGA touchscreen with 320 x 240 pixels resolution, the Alcatel One Touch Premiere is not exactly a looker, weighing in at 4.3 ounces and measuring 0.5 inches in thickness. Then again, you have to keep in mind that Alcatel and USC have compromised on the phone’s power and looks with a noble target in mind – keeping the price down and the functionality up.

Did they make the cut? Is anyone actually thinking of buying the OT Premiere? Is it worth the effort of signing up to a new two-year contract on USC? Let us know in the comments below.


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