Alcatel is a brand name synonymous with the low-end market. But at MWC this year, the company has decided to shake things up a little and go after the market of budget and spec-conscious consumers. And from first impressions, it could work. Very well.
The Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 models are perhaps the most surprising devices at MWC this year. At $199/$249 for the 4.7 and 5.5-inch models. respectively, you get a lot of phone for your money. And they’ll both be available to buy unlocked, direct from Alcatel later this Spring.
There are a number of key differences between the two models, but they also share a number of similarities. From an aesthetics standpoint, both Idol 3s look virtually identical. They’re both around 7.5mm thin and have a black plastic back with a brushed metal finish. On the front, the phones have stereo speakers embedded underneath the chrome-finished frame on the top and the bottom of the front face. That chrome finish surrounds the phone, around all its edges. On the bottom edge is a micro USB port and on the right is the volume rocker. And, unusually, the power button is on the left edge above the tray that holds both the microSD card and the SIM. On the top edge we have the 3.5mm and the IR blaster. Both also have laminated LCD displays that make it seem as if the content is literally floating on the surface and can be seen from any angle.
The only real internal similarity between the Idol 3s is the amount of storage available. Both come shipped with 16GB of built-in storage, but if that doesn’t seem like much, you will be able to expand it up an extra 128GB with a microSD card.
Alcatel’s also seen fit to load them up with the sweetest Android release yet: 5.0 Lollipop. It’s lightly-skinned with some colourful bespoke icons and attractive animations, but for the most part, it’s stock. One unique software feature that both phones share is that there’s no upside down. If you accidentally pick it up with the front-facing camera at the bottom, the software rotates to match. There’s a microphone and earpiece for making calls on top and the bottom too.
But let’s get on to the differences. The 5.5-inch model is clearly the flagship here. It’s equipped with a full HD 1080x1920 IPS display and an octa-core processor. It has a 13-megapixel camera on its back with auto-focus and LED flash, it’s powered by a 2,910mAh battery that should be plenty to keep it running for a full day on one charge, and on the front is an 8-megapixel shooter.
The smaller IDOL 3 has a 4.7-inch screen with a resolution of 720x1280. It’s gorgeous to look at , but it's not quite as sharp as the bigger model. Unlike its bigger sibling, it has a quad-core 1.2GHz CPU and a 2,000mAh battery. Pixel count on the front camera is reduced too, with the phone sporting a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.
Are these specs world-beating? Of course not. But with both phones aiming for low price range, I can’t think of anything better for the same price right now.