Samsung isn’t the only one taking inspiration from the Greek alphabet this month, as Alcatel OneTouch launch into the mid-range market with the stunning Idol Alpha. Like Samsung’s own Alpha, the Idol Alpha is slim with an edge-to-edge screen and metallic finish. It comes in a range of colours, including slate grey, gold or pink gold, all of which look really elegant.
Actually, only the sides are made of aluminium, the back panel is plastic. This is a bit of a disappointment. What little bezel it does have mostly consists of two translucent curved edges at the top and bottom. These give the device a distinctive look, and also light up when you receive notifications. For those having flashbacks to BlackBerry’s own ever-blinking notification light, the Idol Alpha’s are a bit dazzling, but can be dimmed or switched off.
The 4.7-inch screen offers 720 x 1280, which works out at 312.47 ppi. Images appear crisp and an IPS display ensures the colours are exact and viewing angles great. This is by far the best screen Alcatel OneTouch has ever produced and it fares well against the competition, with the same ppi density as the fl agship Moto X (2013) and leagues ahead of the HTC Desire 610 (just 234.35 ppi).
While it lacks a powerful Snapdragon chip, the Idol Alpha’s quad-core MediaTek processor ran up to 1.2GHz. Coupled with 1GB RAM, the handset handled fine for day-to-day usage, but struggled with larger games and demanding apps. The Idol Alpha ships with Android 4.2, which is an older version than we’d like to see at this price point.
At 2000 mAh, Alpha Idol promises ten hours of talk time and we found this was consistent with everyday use
Even more so, because Alcatel OneTouch’s own £70 budget handset, the Pop S3, runs Android 4.3. While the OS is skinned, it’s entirely cosmetic. All the stock features remain, but presented in a budget version of Samsung’s TouchWiz. The device is also packed with apps. Many of these were quite useful, including Twitter, Evernote and SwiftKey. These add-ons took a chunk out of the 16GB, reducing it to 13.3GB with no micro SD slot.
However, many of these third-party apps could be deleted to reclaim memory. Irritatingly, those few that couldn’t be removed are Alcatel’s own, adding nothing but a laggy experience. The Alpha Idol is easily the best phone Alcatel OneTouch has ever produced, and its luxurious design can rival similarly priced products. However, the budget specs and simplified software will be a turn-off for experienced users.