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Circuit Breaker

Alcatel hints at a modular future for its midrange phones

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The Alcatel A5 with its light-up LED back.
Photo by Sam Byford / The Verge

Alcatel is being particularly mysterious at this year’s MWC, showing off a midrange phone with a removable back — the A5 — but not saying outright that it’s making a modular device in the vein of the Moto Z. We had some hands-on time with the A5, and tried out not only a rear case covered with LEDs that respond to music (as seen above), but also a speaker case and a battery extender. Alcatel, though, won’t confirm whether these add-ons will ever go on sale, saying only that this is a “sneak peek” of the future.

If it’s just a sneak peek, of course, then why make the A5’s back removable? We’re assuming there’s something more to come, but for whatever reason the company isn’t saying. As it is, the A5 is being marketed, simply, as the “the world’s first interactive LED-covered smartphone.” The LEDs on the back light up in time with music you’re playing, alert you about notifications, or just glow with a number of pre-set themes you can change whenever you like. The device also has an unspecified octa-core processor, a 5.2-inch display, and 4G LTE connectivity.

The A5 with a prototype clip-on speaker case.
The A5 with its 3,000 mAh battery case.

Along with the A5, Alcatel is announcing two other handsets: the low-end U5, and the slightly-less-low-end A3. Details are, again, thin on the ground, but we know both phones have 5-inch displays with 4G connectivity, while the A3 also has a quad-core CPU, metallic frame, fingerprint sensor, and 13-megapixel rear-facing camera. Hopefully we’ll be able to find out more about these devices — including a full spec sheet, prices, and availability — sometime in the near future.

From left to right: the U3, A5, and A3.

Photography by Sam Byford / The Verge