There is too an Alcatel Idol 3 5.5”, which has a bigger 5.5” screen, double the internal memory, 2GB of RAM an 8 megapixel front facing camera and an additional 910mAh battery. Slim and lightweight in hand the Idol 3 looks similar to most other smartphones, what caught my eye is the slim silver bezels that run around the device and contrast against the glass display.
Personally I am not a fan of the button placement on this handset, but this is assisted a little by the double tap to wake the screen option. We have all picked out phone out of our pocket to discover it is the wrong way round. Well the Idol 3s microphone and speaker positioning allows you to use it the wrong way up if you like as the screen rotates. The 720p resolution IPS screen on this phone has 312 pixels per inch and does a perfectly adequate job of all the things you need to do on a mobile. My personal phone is the Z3 Compact which has a screen to body ratio 2% better than the Idol 3 and it is noticeable, even if only about 2% different. The comparable screen size and resolution favours the Idol 3 ultimately when it comes to brightness. I found the Idol 3 to be much much brighter. 50-60% brightness on the Idol was equivalent to the Z3’s 100%. Such brightness is as a result of the Technicolour technology built into the display that enhances and improves the experience. To the trained eye you will notice how Alcatel have skinned the Android 5.0.2 software that comes installed on the phone. Despite doing so, the skin is relatively light and not resource heavy. Another 500MB of RAM would have allowed it to run like a complete dream, but on the whole the 1.5GB managed fairly well. Limiting for some is the 8GB of internal memory, but this can be expanded via a microSD memory card up to 128GB. Gestures like double tap to wake the phone and flip to mute along with the ability to turn on and off the notification LED is also a nice touch. 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. Smart Suite is a monster of an application and solution and I mean this in a good way. Essentially with an app installed on a computer via Wi-Fi or USB connection you can manage your phone from your desktop computer. How this is managed is simply superb. It is so very powerful and you can do this all from the PC. For example, you go to work, you launch this app and you virtually need not touch the phone unless actually making or receiving a call. You can add and remove contacts, music, applications send text message, import music. Security is increasingly important and you can lock the screen with patterns, passwords, PIN codes and Eye-D which is clever but odd. Using your eyeprint to unlock the phone, it works, but you look a bit weird unlocking your phone as the handset has to be brought quite close to your face for the front camera to lock onto your eyes. 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. The Idol 3 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. In the box you get a set of JBL in ear headphones which gives a premium audio experience from the outset. JBL technology and expertise has then founds its way into the device itself with a speaker above and below the display. They really pack a punch too, coming in at 95 on the decibel meter. If you are an audiophile you may pick fault with the sound but I was honestly so impressed. 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. The Idol 3 4.7” has a rear 13 megapixel and front 5 megapixel camera. Of more interest to me was the rear camera which does ok on the whole. The camera application 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. The shots are ok and perfectly adequate for social sharing, 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 2000mAh battery is built into the Idol. During my time with it, I was actually quite impressed with the battery performance. I was getting through most normal days with around 30% left which is fractionally better than my Z3 Compact. There is little in the way of battery saving technology modes that you might want to use built in. You have a ‘Battery Saver’ mode which is the most extreme and only option which limits performance for the sake of the battery. The Idol 3 4.7 inch is available for £159 including VAT at the time of recording, which in my mind is an absolutely stunning price. If you are driven by specifications and wanting the absolute best for your money you may feel differently about the Idol 3, ultimately what we all want from a smartphone differs. However, whatever camp you are from you have to appreciate what Alcatel have done here. Sadly many handsets get disregarded because of their brand name or apparent lack of specs. There is a need to look past this and look at the bigger picture. Ignoring the specs for what they actually are and take the phone as a whole and consider what it offers, I commend the Moto G which is similarly priced, but I would personally opt for the Alcatel Idol 3.