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Alcatel One Touch Idol S review

Verdict

A highly attractive smartphone with a great screen, decent performance and 4G support – all at a ridiculously low price

Review Date: 5 Apr 2014

Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray

Price when reviewed: £108 (£130 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

Alcatel was once a major force in the UK mobile phone market, but it has since been relegated to a bit-part player. If its Onetouch Idol S Android phone is anything to go by, however, it's ready to stage a comeback. In fact, it's the only handset we've seen that gives the Motorola Moto G a proper run for its money.

Budget beauty

For a £100 phone, the design is nothing short of stunning. It's a wafer-thin 7.7mm from front to back, and the charcoal-grey, soft-touch plastic on the rear feels luxurious. We like the understated chrome-effect trim surrounding the camera lens, and the Onetouch logo at the rear – it's a seriously classy-looking device.

Alcatel One Touch Idol S

It isn't all show, either. Headline features include a large, 4.7in 720p IPS display, an 8-megapixel camera and a quad-core, 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus processor, accompanied by 1GB of RAM and 4GB of storage. Not even the Moto G can match these hugely impressive core specifications, and the Idol S goes one better by including a microSD expansion slot. Like the Moto G, however, its 2,000mAh battery can't be replaced.

Performance

All this produces a clutch of decent performance figures, although the Idol S can't quite match the best handsets we've reviewed. Due to having a higher screen resolution than many of its rivals, its games performance suffers somewhat. It achieved an average frame rate of 8.6fps in the GFXBench T-Rex HD gaming test, placing it behind the Motorola Moto G.

Alcatel One Touch Idol S

In our real-world experience with the phone, it certainly isn't as accomplished a gamer as the Moto G, but in casual use – for example, browsing the web or Google Maps – you'd struggle to notice the difference. The Idol S feels every bit as responsive.

The camera isn't stunning, either, but it produces shots comparable in quality to the Moto G, with a slight tendency towards overexposure. In low light, it falls behind a little, with colours becoming pale, but noise levels are comparable, and in low-light video it doesn't drop the frame rate drastically to get in more light.

Battery Life

Battery life is where this handset's main weakness lies. Although the processor and GPU arrangement is similar to the Moto G's, you'll find that the Idol S's battery drains slightly faster in general use. In movie playback, we witnessed consumption rates of 25% per hour, and a comparatively high 11% during 3G audio streaming. Gaming saps the Idol S's battery capacity at 22% per hour, for an overall average of 19%.

Still, this is a phone that will get you through a full day of moderate use. With 4G, there's the potential to get even more out of it, since 4G downloads take less time and place less of a continuous drain on hardware resources.

Alcatel One Touch Idol S

Verdict

The Idol S is a superb handset that matches the Motorola Moto G almost all the way. Its slimmer design, larger display and the presence of 4G and a microSD slot push it up the rankings, and it only falls behind on battery life and overall performance. Overall, we prefer the Moto G, especially since it adds a splash-proof coating, but if you want 4G on a budget, choose this phone instead.

Author: Jonathan Bray

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User comments

At last!

A budget Android phone with a MicroSD slot! I've been on hunt for a suitable phone for some time and this one looks like it ticks all the boxes.

One question, oh esteemed Mr Bray: what version of Android does this beastie run?

By milboro on 5 Apr 2014

Battery life

I seem to recall many Windows Phones (some cheap) being heavily criticised and dismissed for having 40-50% battery after a day's moderate use and having their rating scores reduced significantly.

Here we have a phone which "will get you through a full day of moderate use" receiving almost perfect scores, I'm presuming with much less than 40-50% remaining?

While it sounds like a very good phone, I think a level playing field for reviews is needed.

It's a small point for such a good phone, but there needs to be fairness between reviews especially with regard to battery life, you can't negate one phone for it while celebrating another.

By AndyPC on 7 Apr 2014

Battery life

I seem to recall many Windows Phones (some cheap) being heavily criticised and dismissed for having 40-50% battery after a day's moderate use and having their rating scores reduced significantly.

Here we have a phone which "will get you through a full day of moderate use" receiving almost perfect scores, I'm presuming with much less than 40-50% remaining?

While it sounds like a very good phone, I think a level playing field for reviews is needed.

It's a small point for such a good phone, but there needs to be fairness between reviews especially with regard to battery life, you can't negate one phone for it while celebrating another.

By AndyPC on 7 Apr 2014

Battery life revisited.

I don't use use my smartphone for movie playback, 3G audio streaming, or gaming, but I do use it for sending e-mails/texts and making phone calls, all of which (I guess) use the transmitter a lot more.

So I was wondering, for example, how much talk time do you get before the battery dies on a phone like this?

By lokash20 on 7 Apr 2014

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