At MWC last year, I think it’s fair to say Alcatel OneTouch surprised us all with its last Idol series phones. The Idol 3 lineup boasted specifications that pushed way past its price-point. The 1080p 5.5-inch model specifically was easily one of the best value-for-money phones available in 2015.
Fast forward to this year, and the company has done it again. With the Idol 4 and 4S, Alcatel (notice, no more OneTouch) is ensuring it remains competitive in 2016, giving the big-names a run for their money… Like last year, we have two different size models, but unlike 2015, they have different names to better tell them apart. Rather than call them both the Idol 4, Alcatel opted to go with Idol 4 and Idol 4S for the 5.2-inch and 5.5-inch versions. Spec-wise, the 4S is clearly the one worth going for.
Unlike last year, this year’s phones have a slightly more premium look about them. The solid frame around the edges looks like something Samsung would build, albeit with a round Xperia-esque button about half-way up the right side called the ‘Boom Key’, which is used for all manner of multimedia functions, including camera and music.
As was leaked in recent weeks, the 5.5-inch 4S has a Quad HD AMOLED display, making it the first QHD-equipped phone the manufacturer has ever launched. Inside is Qualcomm’s powerful mid-range Snapdragon 652 processor paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB internal storage which can be expanded via MicroSD card, up to an impressive 512GB.
Improving from last year, the 4S has a 16MP camera on the back with f/2.0 aperture and the ability to shoot up to 4K resolution video. The camera on the front has an accompanying LED flash for the perfect selfie, and boasts a resolution of 8MP. Its 3,000mAh battery should be enough to get you through a full day’s use on a single charge. Thanks to Quick-Charge technology, it’ll only take 1.6 hours to charge it up fully.
Perhaps most intriguing about the 4S is the method in which it’s being packaged. Rather than putting it in a regular cardboard box, Alcatel has opted to build a bespoke, plastic Cardboard VR headset which doubles as the phone’s packaging.
As for the cheaper, smaller Idol 4, the difference in specs is clear. Rather than have an AMOLED Quad HD panel, the smaller 5.2-inch screen uses LCD IPS technology with a resolution of 1902 x 1080. It’s powered by the Snapdragon 617 processor, and has 3GB RAM paired with 16GB internal storage, expandable to 512GB via MicroSD. It also has a 13MP camera on the back with dual-tone flash and video stabilization.
Other features include an 8MP camera on the front, 2610mAh battery, Quick-Charge support and the Octa-Core Snapdragon 617 processor.
Alcatel’s all-metal and glass smartphones will hit the market in April, with 50 countries due to get the device over three months. Pricing in Europe will be 279 Euros (approx $310) for the 4 and 449 (approx $499) Euros for the 4S. US pricing wasn’t mentioned at the press event.