We may put the keyboard among the "special ones". The block with number buttons forms a square matrix. You'll have to spend some time on the section with the functional buttons until you can work with it. The main operation button, a four-way key with confirming centre, is on the left side, outside the phone axis. On the left and right sides of this block, we will find the functional keys with call buttons. The correction C button is again eccentrically located into the free space. I have struggled with it, pressing it instead of the function keys in the right upper corner. The operation, otherwise, is pleasant mostly for right-handers, as the thumb reaches just the main button. It won't be too hard for left-handers, as well.
The buttons themselves are made of solid plastic. When you press them, it's precise, definite and noiseless. The "2" key interferes with the round button, which may bother. The keyboard is a little bit unequally illuminated by blue diodes. It can be locked and unlocked by holding the asterisk, the traditional shortcut 159 also works
The display never fully goes off when keypad is locked
Alcatel have put another six silver buttons on the left side of the phone. They are designed for operating the built-in music player and the camera. So, the user don't have to search the menu, can start or stop the player, skip over the pieces or adjust the volume by pressing the buttons in stand-by mode.
The speaker connector is in the left lower corner, under a rubber blinding plug. More precisely, it's a short cable, finishing with remote control and 3,5 mm jack slot for separate headphones. We will talk about it later. The phone connector is different from the previous models. For example, you can't use the older external keyboard for fast writing with Alcatel OT S853.
There is a memory card slot, miniSD format, protected in the same way on the right side. We don't have information whether the card will be delivered in the standard package or about its capacity. On the right side, there is a strange ledge with the sign "Open" and everyone, who has had the phone in his hand, wanted to found out what it serves for. It's just how you can take off the back cover.
The front and lower panels deserve more attention compared with other phones. In both of them, under effective grid, are mounted the speakers. Thanks to them Alcatel can play stereophonically. Above them is the infrared port, below, under the cover, the miniUSB connector for connecting the phone with PC. It may be used for charging as well.
On the phone's back cover we'll find the camera lens and a self-portrait mirror. There is a Li-Ion battery of 810 mAh capacity under the cover. The indicated battery life is 330 h stand-by or 480 min talk time.
The creation of good graphic background had always been a disadvantage of Alcatel. The manufacturer didn't use the potential of otherwise very good displays. The situation is a little bit better at OT 853 model, the user will appreciate the full resolution and the 262K colors only on a picture in the background. The background fully comes from the older models and we again meet the big square (legible, however) letters, big and square icons.
The main display and the main menu are in two graphic themes
The feeling of disappointment lasts only until the moment we look into the graphic themes. In Alcatel they're traditionally named Atmospheres. Besides the background image, you may change another 7 parameters as well.
Different graphic themes
All traditional data is on the main display. The functions, set to the left and right functional buttons, may be chosen from a list. Similarly you may set another functions (phone numbers, too) by holding longer selected number keys. Three functions, this time without possibility to be changed, are assigned to a single direction of the main button: phonebook, media album and SMS/MMS editor.
Another personalized option is the usage of the "My shortcuts" personal menu. The user can line up frequently used functions to a scale of 20 items.
User's menu settings
The main menu is standard matrix. It has four rows and three columns. In the settings you may switch to an icon across the whole area. This scheme, however, is not very practical. The grid of icons is arranged better. In the other levels of the menu Alcatel uses its famous horizontal folders. You may choose from two letter sizes, the smaller ones are enough distinct, too.
Menu view in the form of big icons (you have already seen the matrix one)
Small and bigger characters in second and other menu levels
I advise you to switch off the sound interface after switching the phone on for the first time. Otherwise the phone is going to play sounds when browsing the menu.