Alcatel One Touch Idol S Review

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Alcatel One Touch Idol S
Alcatel may not be the most well-known smartphone manufacturer, but as we found out at this year's Mobile World Congress, the company is looking to make a big push into the UK market over the next few years. One of the first models spear heading this drive is the One Touch Idol S, and the phone's impressive specification certainly makes a good first impression. Even better is the price. At £130 SIM-free, this is a credible rival to our the Motorola Moto G. The Idol S is just 7.4mm thick and weighs just 110g, which helps make it a far more desirable piece of kit than most phones this cheap.

It felt just as well made as the tough-feeling Moto G when held them in each hand. Our review sample had a fairly uninspiring grey soft touch finish on the rear panel, but it's also available in red and cherry colours for an extra splash of personality. There aren’t as many accessories and different cases available for the Idol S as for the Moto G, but Idol S has a slimmer and lighter chassis.

Alcatel One Touch Idol S Display:

The phone's 4.7-inch IPS display certainly has the quality to match the handset's classy chassis, and is a cut above your average budget smartphone screen. With a resolution of 1,280x720 pixels, the screen has a pixel density of 312 pixels-per-inch (PPI), helping text, web pages and app tray icons look perfectly sharp and crisp. The screen has deep blacks and impressive contrast levels, but the screen is slightly cool; whites had a noticeable blueish tinge when compared the phone side by side with the Moto G. Admittedly, colours in darker shots didn't pop out of the screen quite as much as on the Moto G, but in general use the display still looked vibrant; it's a great screen for the price.

Alcatel One Touch Idol S Chipset:

The phone's dual-core 1.2GHz MediaTek MT6577 chipset had no problems running Android 4.2.2; the operating system felt snappy and responsive, web browsing was smooth, even on complicated web pages with plenty of nested comments. The phone's default web browser was even smoother when surging the web than Google Chrome. With its default browser, the Idol S completed the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark in 1,265ms, compared to 1,787ms in Chrome. The Idol S can just about handle 3D graphics, but it may not be able to run the latest 3D games very smoothly or at the highest detail levels. Real Racing 3, which sets its detail levels automatically, loaded up with low detail, but ran reasonably well with only an occasional stutter and slowdown. In the 3D Mark Ice Storm test, the Idol S managed a score of 4,400, which is around average for a budget smartphone.

The phone's battery life was fantastic. The Idol S only has a 2,000mAh battery, which is smaller than the Moto G's pack, but we still saw an impressive 9 hours and 43 minutes in our continuous video playback test with the screen set to half brightness. This is almost thirty minutes longer than the Moto G, and should be enough to get you through the day on a single charge, with some room to spare.

Alcatel One Touch S Camera:

The Idol S's eight-megapixel camera is another enticing prospect for those that were disappointed with the Moto G's rather average five-megapixel sensor. It's unusual to see a sensor this large on a £130 smartphone, and we were generally pleased with the quality with our outdoor test shots, taken on an overcast day. Colours were perhaps a little washed out for our liking, but there was plenty of detail present and there was very little noise, even in wide expanses of sky. Pixels didn't clump together in blurry patches too often either, but the phone did struggle to expose the sky. This is a problem we've seen with many smartphones, though, and it doesn't detract from what is otherwise a good camera for an inexpensive phone. The Idol S can also shoot video in Full HD at 30fps, which is much better than the Moto G's maximum quality of 720p.

Conclusion:

The Alcatel One Touch Idol S is a seriously impressive phone for the price. It's a shame there's not more storage space, but its excellent battery life and smart design make it a joy to use. It's very hard to choose between this handset and the Moto G. The G is very slightly faster and has 8GB of internal storage, but there's no microSD card slot, The One Touch Idol S's slimline proportions and 4G connectivity just push the G into second place.
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