Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 Review: Surprisingly Good

28 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Alcatel One Touch Idol 3 (Unlocked).

I think we can all agree that being locked into a carrier contract simply to get a halfway affordable price on a smartphone is a lousy system. Alcatel is in the business of producing dirt-cheap smartphones, and has been for years now, but with few exceptions, you get what you paid for—at best cheap, at worst dirt.Back at MWC 2015, we took a look at the 5.5-inch Alcatel Onetouch Idol 3 – the budget-friendly, reversible smartphone that packs a punch in both hardware and software.T-Mobile US Inc (NYSE:TMUS) has previously worked with Alcatel OneTouch for several economical mid-range tablets and smartphones, and now it appears the two companies are set to carry forward their relationship.

Moreover, owning the phone that goes along with such an, ahem, bargain can be frustrating later on, even after your contract period has expired and you discover that it isn’t so easy to just up and leave — the damn thing’s been locked to your current carrier! So it’s no wonder that there has been an increase in the number and quality of smartphones being sold unlocked and contract-free, direct from manufacturers. It comes equipped with a 4.5-inch 960 x 540-pixel display, a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, a 5-megapixel rear camera, a VGA front-facing camera, 1GB of RAM and just 4GB of storage.

The Alcatel OneTouch Pop Astro comprises of a 5 megapixel rear-view camera and supports 4G LTE connection together with VoLTE as well as Wi-Fi calling. Included in the box are all of the normal add-ons we see with just about every smartphone – a Micro USB cable, wall adaptor and SIM card removal tool.

It probably won’t be too long before Alcatel’s new phone pops up on T-Mobile’s website for sale, though we’re not expecting much fanfare for such an entry-level device. Any particular details regarding the compatibility with LTE band are not found on the exclusive T-Mobile page for Alcatel Lucent SA’s (ADR) (NYSE:ALU) new budget-friendly device. The Idol 3 joins the ranks of well-equipped unlocked phones like the $298 OnePlus One and the $206 BLU Studio 6.0, both of which attempt to offer a full-featured smartphone experience at a reasonable price.

Nevertheless, a report presented on Reddit reveals the February listing by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), according to which the new Alcatel budget device would support LTE bands 2, 4, and 12. In the event that the FCC listing is correct – which is highly probable – customers would be able to get their hands on a fairly affordable Android smart phone with support for 700MHz band.

You’ll find two front-facing speakers flanking the 5.5-inch Full HD LCD display, and you’ll soon see that the device has minimal bezel surrounding the screen. Pricing details have not been released by the company yet; however considering the fact that it carries a QHD resolution display, a 5MP camera, 1GB RAM, and is yet labeled as a budget-friendly phone, it may be predicated that its price would not go over $100 at T-Mobile.

Alcatel OneTouch has what looks to be a pretty fantastic smartphone here, with a Snapdragon 615 inside, 2GB of RAM, 5.5-inch 1080p IPS display, front-facing speakers powered by JBL, and a pretty hefty 2910mAh battery inside. However, customers, who are in the market for a low-budget smartphone, must keep a check on the Alcatel branded phones – the Pop Astro might arrive anytime soon on the carrier’s website. I’ve never been into the big-phone/phablet thing (probably because of my childishly small hands) and have been irked just as much by their weight as by their size.

The application drawer, notification shade and settings menus all closely resemble a device running vanilla Android, while the rest of the software experience is bestrewn with Alcatel’s flat and bright design enhancements. The blacks, while not as inky as on a Samsung Galaxy, are still deep enough that space scenes don’t look like they’ve been passed through an Instagram filter.

Alcatel claims that Technicolor (the company that gets the credit at the end of almost every movie) has tuned the screen’s attributes, so maybe this explains it. Speaking of watching movies, if there’s been one complaint I’ve consistently had about almost every phone I’ve tried out — even the ones that boast sound technologies like Beats or Dolby — it’s the sound quality of the built-in speakers. Alcatel OneTouch teamed up with the guys at Technicolor to make sure the color accuracy on this panel was as close to perfect as they could possibly get.

Not “Oh my god I can’t believe it’s a phone!” good, but more like “Y’know, I could totally watch a whole movie and not be totally annoyed by it” good, which is, well, good! Just in case you use your phone for actual phone calls, you’ll appreciate knowing that call quality was very good, and that those dual speakers make for excellent hands-free volume levels.

They won’t necessarily impress audiophiles, but they are a lot better than Apple’s Earpods, substantially better than the pair of Sennheiser CX 300s I have lying around — heck, they even sound better than a custom pair of Sculpted Eers. No, but it’s nice to know that you won’t be throwing these earbuds away at the first opportunity (or if you decide to, LMK — I’ll send you my mailing address). Basically taking stock Android or AOSP and adding in features to it, instead of slapping your own UI on top like Optimus UI, EMUI, Sense, or Touchwiz. Alcatel touts that it’s made by Sony and has a 13-megapixel resolution, but this is simply more proof that megapixels are irrelevant to photo quality.

It’s not a deal-breaker — the Idol 3’s photos are plenty good enough (especially if you’ll be running them through the inevitable filters of Instagram) — but I think it’s safe to say this is one of the components that Alcatel saved some money on.

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