Alcatel released two killer budget smartphones this year—the 5.5-inch Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 and the 4.7-inch Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3. For about $250 off-contract and $180 off-contract respectively, these two devices are very similar but are geared for two different types of people. And the differences are really what I want to highlight in this comparison. This is my comparison of the two Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 smartphones here on PhoneDog.com.
If we take a look at the hardware first, we’ll see that these two devices are nearly identical. The only noticeable difference has to do with just the overall size. We have the Power/Sleep On/Off button on the left hand side, the volume rocker on the right hand side, the 3.5mm headphone jack up top, and the micro USB charging port on the bottom. The front is home to a 5MP front-facing camera sensor and there are no physical or capacitive touch navigation buttons. The displays are two different resolutions but we’ll visit them in a moment. On the back, we have a 13MP camera sensor and flash, Idol and OneTouch branding.
And while both of these devices have a similar soft touch back cover that resembles a very soft sandpaper, the 4.7-inch model is slightly rougher, offering a slightly more grip. That slight difference on the grip is really the only major difference. Because the 4.7-inch Idol 3 is smaller overall, it’s going to be easier to hold on to. If you’re a fan of relatively small smartphones or just have small hands, that’s something you’re really going to want to take into consideration.
But let’s talk about those displays. The 5.5-inch OneTouch Idol 3 features a 1080p IPS LCD display with a 401ppi index. While the 4.7-inch OneTouch Idol 3 features a 720p IPS LCD display with a 312ppi index. For their size, each display does an adequate job delivering rich content. However, I do prefer the display on the 5.5-inch Idol 3 for a number of reasons. It’s more pixel dense, the White Balance and colors are slightly more accurate, and it’s bigger. Of course, the last reason will come down to personal opinion but I do prefer big smartphone displays.
The performance between the two devices is also very similar in a lot of ways. GeekBench 3 gives the 5.5-inch Idol 3 a single-core score near 700 and a multi-core score near 2300. The 4.7-inch Idol 3 received a single-core score near 500 and a multi-core score near 1500. So the difference isn’t night and day, at least in terms of numbers. When it comes to navigating the OS, both devices can handle their own without any major problems. They are basically identical in that sense.
Where the 5.5-inch Idol 3 starts to pull away from the 4.7-inch Idol 3 is when it comes to multi-tasking and graphic intensive apps. The Snapdragon 615 64-bit octa-core processor is more powerful and more capable than the Snapdragon 410 quad-core processor. What I think is cool is that both smartphones do feature the reverse functionality where you can flip the device upside down and still answer and accept calls and use the device as if it were right side up. It works really well.
Both models also feature the same 13MP Sony IMX 214 camera sensor which is especially surprising to see on the smaller Idol 3. Image quality is pretty solid. I recently compared the 5.5-inch Idol 3 against the 2015 Moto G and I actually prefer the image quality of the Idol 3 a little bit more. Colors were more deep and accurate and the camera software was more user-friendly and I found it just easier to focus on a subject. The 214 camera sensor doesn’t feature Optical Image Stabilization so you do need to have a more steady hand and the detail can’t compare to a higher end smartphone camera sensor with Optical Image Stabilization but with that said, it can capture some pretty good results. For a $250 smartphone, the camera sensor is good. For a $180 smartphone, the camera sensor is great.
The 5.5-inch Idol 3 features a 2910mAh battery while the 4.7-inch Idol 3 features a 2000mAh battery. In my testing, I found the 5.5-inch Idol 3 to last around 4 hours of on-screen on-time. The 4.7-inch Idol 3 would last around 3 hours, give or take. So I certainly do prefer the battery life of the larger 5.5-inch Idol 3. It’s bigger and it’s better.
But my absolute favorite feature of the Idol 3 smartphones has to be the dual front-facing stereo speakers. They sound great on each device. They’re incredibly loud and they deliver incredibly crisp and detailed sound. And they manage to deliver this rich sound in a very minimal build. Unless you look closely, you won’t even really notice them on the top and bottom of each device.
In conclusion, I really like both of these smartphones. Personally, I do prefer the larger 5.5-inch Idol 3 for the battery life, display, and performance advantage. You really get a lot for $250. But then I think about the $180 4.7-inch Idol 3 and I think about how much you get for $180. It’s an even better bang for your buck than the 5.5-inch Idol 3. You have the same speakers and the same camera with an acceptable display, performance and battery life. The two main determining factors are really the price and the size. If the 5.5-inch Idol 3 is just out of your price range or is too big, go with the smaller 4.7-inch Idol 3.
With that said, that is my comparison between the two Idol 3 smartphones.