By Mike Leader
It’s fair to say that the vast majority of you will instantly dismiss Alcatel when considering your next android smartphone. Not only is that a shame, it could be a huge and expensive mistake. We tell you why.
Top 5 features
In austere days like these even the wealthy are watching the pennies, so we’re led to believe anyway, so if something can be got for a fraction of the price you expected to pay for it then it’s worth investigating, right? Enter the Alcatel One Touch Idol S.
Most of you have probably never even heard of the French manufacturers so it may surprise you to know that they are in fact one of the world’s leading telecommunications businesses, with a turnover of around 15 billion Euros a year and have strong links with Bell Telephone, the company founded by the inventor of the original telephone, Alexander Graham Bell. So you’re in expert hands here.
What about this Alcatel smartphone then?
OK, about the Idol S. It’s a large, 4.7 inch screened android smartphone inside a soft touch, easy to hold curvy casing, a nice touch in it’s own right, with a depth of just 7.4mm. That screen is a clear and bright glass coated IPS LCD touchscreen with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels at a pixel density of 312 pixels per inch. What that means is you get a quite fantastic multitouch display that is easy to read in bright outdoor light and at wide viewing angles too. If you want an idea of just how good that is, that’s bordering iPhone 4s specification!
Under the covers you get a 1.2 GHz dual core processor coupled with 1GB of RAM memory which keeps it ticking along nicely. We saw no lag whatsoever when watching streaming videos via Wi-Fi or from camera recordings. In the real world this is usually what catches out poorly performing handsets.
Full HD video
The camera is a strong 8 megapixel offering and again this is usually a weak point on cheaper smartphones, but not here. As mentioned you get full 1080p HD video recording at 30 frames per second, along with touch to focus, auto focus, geotagging, face detection, panorama and LED flash, together with HDR quality for better pictures in low light. It is actually one of the best performing cameras in low light we have tested for some time, and we were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the photos produced by the camera.
Dual band Wi-Fi for more reliable connections and faster downloads, something still you will find is not included on many more expensive smartphones, is featured as standard here along with Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, the latest version of stereo Bluetooth (version 4.0), the latest version of Android (JellyBean 4.2.2.) but the major plus point for those few of you who can get a 4G signal is that this is a 4G handset, which is amazing at this price level.
Storage capacity is only 4GB which is a little low these days but it helps keep the price very low, and the Micro SD card slot will accept memory cards up to 32 GB. The only thing missing is the little-used NFC functionality that 99.9% of you won’t miss anyway. NFC is the technology which offers you contactless payments, such as is currently offered at places such as the Post Office, but we think that most people are more likely to use their plastic and pay with their debit/credit cards when using the facility. However it can also be used to transfer files and photos with a similarly enabled device such as another mobile phone or laptop.
The best thing about all of this is the incredibly low price. At the time of writing it is available to you for as little as £130 sim free from EE on Pay As You Go and free on contract. Onboard storage space aside there is little, if anything, that the vast majority of you smartphone users will miss and overall Alcatel have put together a very attractive, decent quality package with the Idol S.
Phones in this price range are normally reserved for those not wanting to spend too much because they don’t use their phones a lot, have no use for top-end power user features or simply want to try an android smartphone for the first time, but this is a smartphone we are very happy to recommend as your everyday phone of choice without any hesitation whatsoever.