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May 29, 2013

Alcatel One Touch Idol Review

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.

Display

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.

Conclusion

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
3G/HSPA
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)
110g (weight)

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.

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24 Responses to “Alcatel One Touch Idol Review”

  1. evollove says:

    I find it quite sad that Alcatel is just starting to roll out their new JB phones, wanting to play ball with the local players with their ICS-equipped Mediatek MT6577s and Qualcomm MSM8255s and marking up their offerings with maybe just a little premium.

    Then BAM! The local players suddenly unleash their JB quad-core phones, seriously undercutting Alcatel’s own quad-core and their flagship (why these two adjectives aren’t describing the same model, I have no idea). Alcatel gauged the price bracket for MT6589 quad-cores in the local market quite badly and this will undoubtedly reflect on their sales.

    Bring the Idol X for less than 17k and the Snap for less than 10k and we’ll see.

    • vince
      Twitter: Vincent
      says:

      yup. the O+ 8.15 has quadcore, 8 gig ram and HD display for a similar price while the cherry omega hd 2.0 has quadcore for like 8999 pesos only

  2. ROA says:

    If I’m not mistaken the 1GB RAM variants are dual-sim, based on reviews I’ve seen on the net. They market this phone as having 1GB RAM although the unit that most have only has 512MB of RAM.

  3. magic5 says:

    If alcatel really wants to be in d limelight, they should learn from cm n d gigantic company samsung, start from d ground – up and not from UP then crumbling to d ground… market your product as if your a new player bcoz even though uve bin here 4 quite long enough, theres no one to back u up coz u dnt have a number of loyal customers to recomend n announce or products.. your juz like motorola, a sitting duck in a stagnant side of d market.. samsung back in d days were just like that, d cheapest selling device out there competing with d giants like philipps, pioneer, sony n sharp, then there comes Lg n aiwa who suddenly just vanish in d thin air

    • abuzalzal says:

      Yun ang problema sa ALCATEL…feeling nila, naka establish na sila ng brand at reputasyon, masahol pa sa SAMSUNG kung ag presyo ng mid range handsets, samahan mo pa ng stiff competition from our local rebranders…If they will go on doing like this, we won’t probably see them in the very near future….

      The recipe for disaster is already there,

      No reputation + Underspec’d + overpriced = FAILURE

    • magic5 says:

      Let me correct myself, samsung b4 was d cheapest selling appliance amongst d branded ones here in d local market until they boom in producing qualty yet affordable good looking cd/dvd players n lcd tv’s that slowly but surely gives them d edge over their competitors n make their way up to the top.

      Hope Alcatel realize that they have no such reputation yet to price their products that much although they are international brand.. the reviews of this idol n the ultra clearly shows that they havnt perfected their craft yet..

    • vince
      Twitter: Vincent
      says:

      more or less i agree

  4. abuzalzal says:

    A QHD display, a slow gpu and only 512 MB of RAM for Php12K?

    Tough tough sell….good luck lelling 500 units with that

  5. Danny says:

    mukhang okay naman yung phone, siguro masyado lang mataas standards ng iba. Though panget talaga yung 720p video recording.

  6. jujuju says:

    Waw supurrrrrr dupurrrr ovurrrr priced mobile, sa specs dapat 5k lang to.. ok sana kung gnawa dualcore na intel at 1gig Ram.. i am xpecting na magsasale sila, agad agad!! :D

  7. abuzalzal says:

    Somehow, I find this review LACKED honesty

    This phone has a ludicrous price … In fact no one would expect that this is a Php 12k phone due to its bleedingly-low end specifications…

    ”What you shouldn’t like about it : The PRICE”

    • Eason says:

      I actually thought about the price is a bit steep against competitor local brands, but when considering the build of the device, technology used for the display and the overall delivery of the device in terms of build / materials used and UI implementation. I reconsidered that part since alcatel has proven itself that they invested more of the customer experience rather than just plain specs.

  8. ralph says:

    ano po kaya mas ok, one touch idol/ultra or lumia 720?

    di ko alam kung kukuha ako sa sun ng idol or bili na lang ng 720 handset…

  9. Michael Arcangel says:

    Got one last weekend. i purchased my OT idol from Memoxpress Festival Mall. 6030X ang available sa kanila which has 1GB RAM according to the unit itself. Sobrang gaan nya.

    Main concern ko lang is yun battery life dahil after a whole day of calls, text, konting games, facebook, pag uwi ko ng bahay ay mga nasa 20% battery life na lang sya.

    Another thing is wala pang available na protective casings. inikot ko na yun buong Quiapo para maghanap pero wala talaga. I just got the jelly case for S4, mejo maluwag lang sya but ok na kaysa sa walang protection. you just have to cut on some areas of the casing para mas maging accessible yun volume rocker, usb port, power button, headphone socket and speakers.

    Since I’m always in the field, i need a car charger and unfortunately wala pa din available sa malls. I tried to inquire at their local website if where I can buy one and I’m hoping to receive a reply from them. I have with me a generic USB car charger and I’m using it for my galaxy Y. When I tried to use it on my Idol, the phone says it detected an unauthorized charger which can damage the phone. WAAAAAHHH!

    But overall, I’m very satisfied with my OT Idol. Pati mga colleagues ko nagandahan sila. Hindi nila malalaman na Alcatel pala sya kung hindi ko pa sinabi at makita yun back cover ng phone which bears the Alcatel logo.

  10. ar ar love says:

    i got 1 from sun.. my problem is the battery, first week ok naman siya but 100% full change 1 day lang ung gamit..after that worst na talaga yung battery, kahit hindi ginagamit within 8-9 hours lowbat na siya..thats the worst thing in alcatel idol..i totally regret to have it..

    • Elvise says:

      You need to change your battery because it could have factory defect or you might have mishandled it. I’ve been using celphones since 1995 and most of the time I’ve never changed my battery until my unit became obsolete. What I always do is see to it that the remaining power is only 10% or less before charging and wait until fully charged before unplugging the charger. Once a month I completely drain the battery then charge it until full. No celphone battery can last long if you charge it anytime you like and unplug the charger anytime before it is full. Refrain from using the phone while charging.

    • waly b says:

      Alcatel Idol’s battery is not removable.
      I suggest to use DU battery app. It will automatically select the type of charging and will automatically stop charging when fully charged.

      I got three units via Sun Plan 600 for my eb babes and they like it. Very elegant tingnan. Gusto ko pag patay yung screen… all black yung screen.

      Back hard case nalang ang hinahanap ko. aYOSH na!

  11. Marvin says:

    I go for experience. I think Alacatel OneTouch Idol exceeds my expectation. I’m not a fan of android phones but experiencing this fone for the 1st time is amazing. I have doubts of getting this to sun shop. The time the customer rep. handed to me the unit, it’s so light and thinner than I thought. The simplicity of navigation and home screen menu is impressive. And some special features are pretty cool. As for the price at the market, I think it’s reasonable, experience wise. If I were to score this unit: 8 out of 10.

    • Elvise says:

      Right Marvin, I expect my smartphone to be a mobile phone, a mobile computer, a music player and a video player and my idol exceeded my expectations as far as my needs is concerned. I don’t find any practical use for the extra features that are offered by those fancy and expensive brands. Alcatel Idol is just perfect for me.

  12. Cire says:

    Wish that you guys would make a review of Xperia SP and L. :)

  13. rommel says:

    hi.. i just want to know is where can i plug this phone for charging.. this alcatel is 110volts or 220volts..

    please reply..

  14. michael santiago says:

    i got problem with my alcatel idol sira yung charging port po nya, i dont think kung repairable sya kasi di naman removable ung back cover.. any help.

  15. jed says:

    win the lg g2 with Yugatech’s Lg G2 index finger challenge

    m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtube_gdata_player&v=QsSode7AMNU&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DQsSode7AMNU%26feature%3Dyoutube_gdata_player

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