Alcatel One Touch Idol S review

5 Apr 2014

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

Price when reviewed 
130
5

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £108
Price inc VAT £130
Contract monthly charge £22.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider EE
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5

Physical

Dimensions 67 x 7.7 x 133mm (WDH)
Weight 110.000kg
Touchscreen yes

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 1MB
Camera megapixel rating 8.0mp
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 4.7in
Resolution 720 x 1280

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes

Software

OS family Android