Alcatel OneTouch Idol Alpha review
Beauty lies in the detail
There is no doubt whatsoever that the Alcatel OneTouch Idol Alpha is a beautifully crafted smartphone. It is the attention to detail, both inside and out, that impressed me and you can find why in my Alcatel OneTouch Idol Alpha review.
The unique design of the Idol Alpha sets it apart from its competition with elements such as the transparent segments at the top and bottom of the phone. These light up to give you a visual prompt to check your notifications and of course deliver that wow factor.
There is an all metal structure which is cold on first touch and for me this is a prime indicator of a high-end device. The edges have been precision diamond cut to create a reflective band that surrounds the display which is protected by toughened Dragon Trail Glass.
The floating edge-to-edge 4.7” HD IPS display has a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels and really does offer a great viewing experience even when viewed from the side. After testing the smudge-prone Huawei Ascend Y550 last week I was more than thankful to find an oleophobic coating that repels fingerprint oils to help keep the display clean.
A variety of colours are available and I had the Slate coloured Idol Alpha which certainly appealed to me. Brighter options include Soft Gold/Matte, Soft Gold/Brushed and Pink Gold/Brushed and these encase a phone that is extremely lightweight and thin at 117g and 7.5mm thick.
The build includes a 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 1GB RAM and whilst this falls below the 2.5GHz processors we are seeing on some of the latest high-end smartphones it certainly caused me no problems or lag.
The internal memory of 16GB cannot be expanded upon as there is no card slot but the Dropbox and Google Drive apps are pre-loaded to give you extra storage on the Cloud should you need it. The MicroUSB port is located on the bottom of the left side panel and whilst this wouldn’t stop me purchasing an Idol Alpha it does seem to get in the way when you want to hold and charge the phone at the same time.
Phone Set Up
Unboxing the Alcatel OneTouch Idol Alpha once again hints at the passion that has been put into creating this smartphone as you pull off the top to the cylindrical metal box. The felt packaging inside holds the phone, accessories and SIM card removal tool which is needed to open the SIM holder on the side of the phone.
Getting the Idol Alpha set up was no great chore at all thanks to the built-in Setup Wizard. I am sure that like me you will go straight from this to exploring the home menus but there is a Help Me app that is well worth visiting as this gives you lots of tips and tricks that you could otherwise miss.
I set up the Idol Alpha using Wi-Fi and the Android Jelly Bean v4.2 operating system includes Gmail, the Chrome web browser and Skype, all of which I set up without any issues.
To unlock the Alcatel OneTouch Alpha Idol you drag the lock icon on the screen to one of four points. These are set to take you straight to either the home, camera, messaging or calling screens and are a nice touch.
A more than generous set of apps populate the five home screens which include the main action screen, an app screen, a page where apps have been sorted into categorised folders to make them easy to find, a page backed by your photo gallery and a page populated with handy widgets.
The widgets really add to the whole experience with the Flipboard widget delivering a great way to read online content and the Facebook widget presents you with your friends updates and you can scroll through these without even leaving the widget home screen.
Further features of note include GPS navigation, Wi-Fi file and screen sharing, app downloads from the App Centre and Google Play, Google’s voice search and Gameloft Live games.
Camera & Video
The camera on the Alcatel OneTouch Idol Alpha exceeded my expectations with an incredible 13MP resolution. I immediately switched on the HDR function to get the best photographic results and as the phone captures both a standard and HDR image each time you take a photo I would suggest that you do the same and enjoy the option of picking the better of the two results.
As expected there is a panorama mode and burst mode but there is also advanced features that let you adjust elements individually such as the exposure and ISO (the cameras sensitivity to light).
Recording in full HD 1080p is possible at 30fps and there is a forward facing 1.3MP HD 720p camera on the front for taking selfies or making video calls.
The 2000mAh battery seemed to adequately hold enough charge to get me through the day with moderate usage and the Idol Alpha can be fully recharged in just 2.5 hours.
My overall verdict is confused slightly by the exceptional camera, built-in features and design elements. These would make me want to pitch this phone as a top-end smartphone but the processor and slightly older Android OS restrict me from doing so.
Instead I would say that this is a fantastic choice for anyone who isn’t completely throwing the budget out of the window and buying an Apple iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S5 or BlackBerry Passport.
Written by: Michael Brown