• Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 5.5 Review

    Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 5.5 Compared to the smaller 4.7” model the differences are the screen size and that the 5” boasts double the internal memory, a bit more RAM and 910mAh extra as well as a 8 rather than 5 megapixel front facing camera.

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    Compared to the 4.7” model the 5.5” aesthetically is identical albeit on a larger scale. At 141g and 7.4mm thick, the Idol 3 5.5” is well proportioned and dare I say on the light side. For me the button placement is not at all logical. However, the software option of a double tap on the screen to wake and turn off the device alleviates this problem somewhat. When was the last time you thought I really wish my phone would work upside down?! Well you need worry no more as the Idol 3 series solves this very dilemma. Dual microphones and a rotating display mean you can use the phone how you like. Lovers of HD resolution can rest easy knowing the 5.5 is sporting a 1080p panel with a PPI of 401 and a screen to body ratio of 72%. Thanks to the use of Technicolour technology built into the display that enhances and improves the experience of the display and this thing is REALLY bright. You will rarely need to use it on full brightness. Running Android 5.0.2 the onetouch cannot really be criticised for being behind. The Idol 3 has a very light skin, so it is not stock Android but it is not a heavy installation meaning performance is not really affected. Generally speaking the octa core processor and 2GB of RAM ticked along nicely. Occasional lag but nothing drastic. To be a flagship killer some would argue more internal memory is the way forward, but that costs and will affect the price of this phone. However, you are not that limited. 16GB is installed internally with further expansion possible via a microSD memory card up to 128GB. Gestures like double tap to wake the phone and flip to mute are lovely additions as is the ability to turn on and off the notification LED. The inclusion of the office suite is a nice touch and the inclusion of SwiftKey is superb as this really is one of the most popular aftermarket keyboards with some real advantages in the text prediction and efficiency it offers. As you are likely a more demanding user if looking at this model I have no reason to believe that this could not serve you well. Smart Suite is a an application and solution that I wish every manufacturer considered. Essentially with an app installed on a computer via Wi-Fi or USB connection you can manage your phone from your desktop computer. There are lots of options. You can see the battery and memory status, check your firmware version, manage contacts, messages, calendar, pictures, music, applications and backups. Swipe left to right on the home screen and you are presented with onetouch STREAM. Alcatels equivalent to HTC Blinkfeed if you are familiar with this. Customisable, but not totally removable you can have things like news, appointments and weather show all in a quick glance format. I am not sold on this but I do not dislike it. What I was less keen on was the inclusion of a trial version of Facetune for editing photos, XE currency converter, Deezer and Wi-Fi transfer and a series of pre-installed games. Jumping from apps to security, eye tracking and retina scanning is still not a mainstream solution but the Idol 3 series boasts Eye-D unlock over and above the normal patterns, passwords, PIN codes. It uses your eyeprint to unlock the phone. The handset has to be brought quite close to your face for the front camera to lock onto your eyes and unlock the phone. If you are particularly security conscious then great. All these additions aside, if you are still venturing into smartphones and Android devices for the first time, this has all you need on it. Web browsers, the ability to make phone calls, store your contacts, send text messages, add your social network accounts like twitter, facebook and of course your email accounts simply and easily. It has all you need when it comes to connectivity. WiFi including the n standard, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, Miracast, USB on the go support, 3.5mm headphone jack, 3G, 4G and microUSB for charging and data transfer and microSD memory card support up to 128GB. The Idol 3 be it the 4.7” or the 5.5” pack the same punch when it comes to audio. Stereo speakers on the front, one above and one below the screen. Offering up a reading 95 on the decibel meter I found the sound to be loud enough and of an impressive quality. Perfect, no. As good as the HTC One series, very close and for a lot less money. In the box you get a premium set of JBL in ear headphones and their technology and expertise has then founds its way into the device itself and this is what makes the sound so premium. One of the software features that I did not touch upon is the Mix app which is essentially the music player with some additional touches that take advantage of the dual speakers. A normal app for creating playlists and managing music it is, but there is also a DJ facility built into it where it allows you to scratch tracks, create mixes, add sound effects, change the balance, tempo and much more. Probably something more appealing to teens than the average smartphone user but we all like to mess about at times. An 84 degree field of view is possible on the front 8 megapixel camera and the Facetune software allows you to edit that selfie image you may capture. If you are into taking self portraits of photos of your and friends huddles together then this is great. The results are ok, but I would personally have preferred better results from the front camera than just a high resolution. It is not all about megapixels. The rear camera is what I would imagine most are interested in. Right in the top corner it is easy for a finger to stray into shot. The camera application itself has a variety of shooting options, from auto, to HDR to manual mode where you can control various settings, there is a barcode scanner and there is even a timelapse mode which is not something you see built into camera apps very often. Settings are extensive enough without being overbearing or limiting. Video can be recorded at 1080p HD and the F2.0 aperture allows more light into the camera to produce what are hopefully better results. Of course there is too the flash for low light. No physical shutter button is present, unless you press the volume key, which if held will allow you to take burst shots. There is to 4x digital zoom. I am not at all wowed with the results. However there are more expensive options that produce shots no better. The shots are ok and perfectly adequate, but look at them in any real detail and there is pixelation and noise and the colour balance is not all that great. A fixed internal battery is present on the onetouch, no option to remove it. 2,900mAh is the capacity and a full days usage is what you will likely get. In fact you will likely get 1.5 and possibly 2 at a stretch. After a day’s usage I was left with 40ish percent, depending on what I was doing. On lighter days this was up at 50%. The Idol is £199 including VAT at the time of recording, £40 more than its smaller brother. For me a main competitor is Moto X Play which is £270. This has some advantages but it is still and extra £70 for what some may not consider benefits. The camera is the weakness of the Idol 3 5.5 and the battery and software one of its strengths as are the speakers of course. Design and aesthetics help it look the part too and not just another cheap Chinese phone. For £200 you can do a lot worse and I challenge you to find anything better for the money with this screen size.

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