With the trend of smartphones getting thinner, lighter and yet packing more features, it’s not only seen in flagship phones but into mid-range phones as well. Let’s see if the Alcatel One Touch Idol proves its worthiness.
Alcatel recently launched a new batch of Android devices that pretty much cover the entry level to the performance range phones all under 15 thousand pesos. One of them is the One Touch Idol which is a mid-range smartphone that’s in a slim and lightweight package.
Design and Construction
If we we’re to put the construction of the One Touch Idol in one word, that is “Simple”. For a device that is 7.9mm thin and 110g light, you won’t see any heavy curves on as the approach of Alcatel is a straight and sleek design for the Idol.
The overall shape of the device is a rectangle with round edges, which is feels solid and clean to hold. The sides of the glass is protected by a black plastic bezel so when you put the phone face down, the glass won’t touch the surface. Also in the front are the capacitive buttons and LED notification, earpiece and light and proximity sensor.
At the back is a plastic cover that is non-removable which has a matt brush aluminium finish that gives the idol a premium impression. Even my workmates we’re surprised that the phone is made by Alcatel. Also at the back are the 8 megapixel camera with LED Flash, noise cancelling microphone and speakers
It uses flip covers to access the Micro Sim (right) and the Micro SD slot (left). Buttons are Volume Rocker on the right and power button on the top which has chrome like accent.
The 110g weight is really noticeable. I’m currently using a Galaxy S3 (133g) and in the whole period I’m reviewing the Idol, each time I picked up the unit I can’t help compare weights to other phones as well.
The Display of the Idol is a 4.7 inch with a resolution of qHD (540×960). That gives the Idol 234ppi which is average in its range. The screen is an IPS which delivers a bright and vivid output. Although you might expect that the specification are quite average, the Idol differs itself by using a zero gap glass solution, this bonds the glass in screen without any air gap.
Display quality is really clear, color output is warm where white feels more yellowish and the color production is a quite saturated. Viewing angles are excellent as glares are minimized because of the Zero Gap glass solution.
Protected with Dragon Trail glass and finger prints are noticeable but this is more easily to be removed thanks to its anti-finger print coating. Capacitive buttons are back, home and recent apps which are located at the bottom.
OS, UI, Apps
Alcatel’s approach to their UI is very neat and simple. The overall look of their UI almost vanilla but they focused more on the common user interfaces such as the notification bar and settings, they use clean lined based icons which is neat. Also the default application icons are customized where its more rounded compared to the default square icons.
Alcatel pre-installed the Idol with useful apps such as barcode scanner, evernote, facebook, picsay, LED Flash light, Office Suite 6 and more. Also Alcatel customized some of the apps like cloud storage, online radio, DLNA, File Manager, calculator and other basic apps.
User inputs via the Alcatel TouchPal keyboard is clean, although there is no shortcut for the numbers like you just have to hold the QWERTY row for the 1-0 numbers. Swiping gesture is also available where the touch input is quick and responsive.
Interestingly, the Idol has a small blue LED notification besides the light and proximity sensor. Similar to high end phones, this lights up when you have a notification, charging, and low battery. A pretty neat feature for a mid-range phone.
One thing that annoyed me in the Idol is the rotation where it has no animation at all. So when you have the Auto-Rotate activated, you might be shocked sometimes that the screen suddenly rotated, this is especially noticeable when playing videos.
Multimedia and Camera
Video playback of the Idol is acceptable, though we experienced some pause (half a second) when scrolling though 1080p videos. Plus when the new facebook face messenger pop-out in the screen you will experience drop in frame rate of the video. But for 720p and below the experience was smooth. The speakers are loud enough for a small crowd but due to that the speakers are placed at the back, you might want to hold the back with your palm to direct the sound into you.
Perhaps one quality some people tend to forget is the music encoding, in my experience of switching phones not all phones can play music properly. When I swapped my music playlist into the Idol, I was able to distinguish far better bass and treble production compared to my backup phone without any equalizer tweaking. In earphones, the bass isn’t lacking either, so no worries about using the Idol as an MP3 player.
The 8 megapixel camera of the Idol is pretty good, it delivers sharp and color accurate photos. Shooting speed is above average given the in good lighting condition. It can take burst shorts of up to 40 shots in 10 seconds. When it comes to low light conditions, processing is sluggish to compensate the camera kicks in the flash to auto focus, but focusing takes around 2 seconds and the shot must be still in order to be clear.
Here are some sample shots of the One Touch Idol:
Video recording is limited to 720p which is a disappointment despite the 8MP camera, the reason of the limitation is the processor. Still the quality of the video is good where it can respond to light and moving objects adequately.
Performance and Benchmarks
Overall performance of the Idol is pretty smooth, you will experience some stuttering in display when loading apps but that is how far it goes for us. With Android Jellybean 4.1.1 the Idol can take up the basic to mid applications easily.
Benchmarks wise the Idol seems to exceed the performance of its premium brother the “Idol Ultra” where its slightly higher in benchmarks despite the downgraded processor. We assumed this is due to the resolution is qHD where the processor can handle properly.
Quadrant Standard: 3,017
Antutu Benchmark: 6,582
Nenamark 2: 24.2fps
Vellamo HTML5: 1,355
Vellamo Metal: 367
Overall the benchmarks results show an average performance for a mid-range smartphone today.
Note: There are three configurations of One Touch Idol (6030X / 6030D and 6030A), the difference is that the 6030A is using 512MB RAM while the 6030X / 6030D are using 1GB RAM. The review unit provided by Sun Cellular is the 6030A version.
Call Quality, Connectivity and Battery Life
The Idol has a battery with a capacity of 1800mah, which is average in today’s smartphones. In terms of my usage scenario I used the Idol as my primary multimedia phone. Meaning it was my phone for Bluetooth music / video streaming when driving and surfing via 3G through social media like Facebook, Twitter, Voxer, and emails. Overall I get around 25% of battery left after a day of usage.
We tried pushing the battery by playing videos while Bluetooth streaming with 3G on for notifications and emails, the phone heated up on the back lower left side fast. From 100% I left my house to driving to my destination in 1 hour the battery was down to 64%.
Call quality was decent, at high volume you can already hear the earpiece echoes into the body of the phone. So you better regulate the volume of the earpiece, as per the receiver’s side it was clear even on noisy backgrounds thanks to its noise cancelling microhone. Connectivity wise it’s pretty much standard with Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP, WiFi with WiFi-Direct, GPS, and HSPA connectivity. Though we would at least like to see HSPA+ or NFC in the connectivity.
We really liked the package of the One Touch Idol. This time, Alcatel surpassed our impressions especially in the display and design department. Though performance-wise it’s not really going to wow anyone, it’s enough for an average smartphone junkie. Overall, with its very thin and light design, the experience was short of impressive. We have to hand it to Alcatel for investing a lot for improving their customer experience.
The One Touch Idol is available in six colors (Silver, Pink, Gray, Red, Blue, Green) with a suggested retail price of Php11,990. It also comes free on Sun Cellular Plan 600.
Alcatel One Touch Idol 6030A Specs :
4.7-Inch IPS display @ 540×960 pixels, 236ppi
MediaTek MTK 6577+ 1GHz dual-core processor
512MB RAM (6030A Version)
4GB Internal Memory
up to 32GB via microSD
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n with WiFi Direct
Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP
GPS with A-GPS
8MP rear camera, 720p video @ 30fps
2MP front-facing camera
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Li-Ion 1800mAh battery
133 x 67.5 x 7.9mm (dimensions)
What we liked about it
* Simple and Neat Design
* Very slim and light profile
* Very good display performance
* Simple customized UI
What we didn’t like about it
* No Full HD Recording
* Slow camera in low light conditions
* No rotation animation
Disclosure: Sun Cellular provided the review unit for free. They also gave the One Touch Idol that we’re giving away here.