Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 hands-on review

Following the launch of its OneTouch Watch at CES, Alcatel is becoming an interesting mobile company to look out for. At MWC 2015in Barcelona, the firm announced two reversible flagship smartphones so here's our Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 hands-on review. Also see: Best smartphones 2015 and Best Android phones 2015.

You may have never heard of Alcatel but the company, which is a joint venture between Alcatel Lucent of France and TCL Communication of China, is making increasingly attractive devices including smartphones, tablets and wearables.

We're waiting for UK release date but we're told the smaller Idol 3 will be priced around the very affordable £199 mark while the larger model isn't much more at around £249. At this price they will take on the likes of the impressive Honor 6, OnePlus One and Huawei Ascend G7.

Like quite a few phones coming to market, the Idol 3 is available in two different sizes and they happen to match the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The specs are interesting but the reversible nature of the devices is possibly the most intriguing thing.

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 review

A lot of smartphones have a pretty symmetrical design but none more than the Idol 3. Alcatel OneTouch has made the handsets in a very deliberate way to make them reversible. When you flip the phone round with the screen on, you get a cool animation rather than the typical auto rotate.

The design means that no matter which way up you hold the Idol 3, you can still make a phone call and not be talking into the speaker while the mic is listening to your ear.

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 review

What doesn't move are elements like the physical buttons, camera and ports so there is a right way up but there's no need to panic when, for example, someone calls you. Just answer whichever way the phone comes out of your pocket, bag or down the side of the sofa.

We like the stylish design of the Idol 3 which is 7.5 mm thick for the smaller model and surprisingly slightly thinner for the larger version at 7.4 mm. They don't feel overly premium or expensive but the brushed metal look of the rear cover is nice and we don't really expect more when you look at those prices.

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 review

Moving onto hardware and there are a few specs which the two Idol 3 handsets share including a 13 Mp rear camera, 4G LTE support, dual-front facing speakers, NFC and a microSD card slot which can take up to 128 GB. That means that it's actually a lot more than screen size in how they differ.

At 4.7in the smaller Idol 3 is a more comfortable size but with a 720p resolution the pixel density jumps from 312- to 401 ppi as the larger option is 5.5 in and Full HD. Both use an LCD IPS display.

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 review

Engine room specs for the 4.7in model consist of a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, 1 GB of RAM and either 8- or 16 GB of internal storage. It's quite a nice upgrade if you opt for the 5.5 in Idol 3 as it means you'll get an octa-core 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, twice the RAM at 2 GB and double the storage with 16- or 32 GB.

Although both Idol 3 models share a 13 Mp rear camera which has potential, (we need to test it further) the smaller model has a 5 Mp front snapper while the 5.5in phone has a higher resolution 8 Mp sensor.

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 review

It's relative, but the battery is also different which makes sense considering the different in space for components. There's a 2000 mAh battery inside the 4.7in model and a much larger 2910 mAh battery powering the 5.5in Idol 3.

Things are, of course, the same when it comes to software with both running Android 5.0 Lollipop and the firm's own user interface. It uses the stock Android Lollipop drop down notification bar and recent apps menu which is good to see.

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 review

The firm also adds its own OneTouch Stream which sits a swipe away from the homescreen where Google puts Google Now, Samsung places Flipboard and HTC positions BlinkFeed. It's a similar system and aims to provide various bits of information such as weather and news but it also promotes things like wallpapers and items the firm wants to sell such as cases.

OUR VERDICT

Alcatel OneTouch is definitely one to look out for this year. The Idol 3 comes in two different sizes with an attractive and reversible design. Specs look great for the price with a lot more on offer at 5.5in if that's not too big compared to 4.7in. Look out for a full review soon.

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