Alcatel OneTouch has added a new flagship handset to its Idol range in the Alpha. Yes it's similarly named to another recent release, yes it also has a premium build with metal edge. But no, it's not the same.
We got to spend time using the Alpha, trying out its innovative selfie and alert lighting system and more.
Is the Alcatel OneTouch Idol Alpha a contender for a top spot among the competition?
Lighting and build
The unique part about the Idol Alpha is a beautiful lighting system that's built into the clear top and bottom sections of the handset, this is called Deco. As you can see the edges of the smartphone are made from translucent plastic, allowing them to double as LED lights. While lighting is functional we enjoy the look of the phone with see-through parts, it feels like part of the way to being in a sci-fi film of the future.
The lights themselves, which illuminate top and bottom are primarily for notifications, changing lighting for example when the handset is charging. But they can also be used as a soft flash lighting system for selfies. At a time when snapping oneself is very popular, to the point where selfie cameras are becoming higher and higher resolution on phones, this light adage is a stroke of genius.
The Deco light also adds to the flashlight which comes built-in. This uses the LED flash as well as the top and bottom lights.
The phone itself is 7.5mm thin and features a metallic frame which feels premium in the hand. The rear case is still plastic but with that frame is enhanced enough to feel better than most mid-range handsets.
The handset comes with a MediaTek 1.2 GHz quad-core processor backed by 1 GB of RAM. It might not be as much as some phones offer but it seems to run smoothly.
The handset comes with 16GB of memory built-in. But once you factor in the operating system and apps that come as standard you're down to about 13.3GB of space to use. There isn't an option to expand using microSD.
The phone has a 2,000mAh battery which Alcatel OneTouch claims will give you 10 hours of 3G talktime. It'll charge to full in two and a half hours.
The Idol Alpha comes with a 4.7-inch IPS display that is described as HD. This doesn't mean full HD as it's a 720 x 1280 resolution meaning a pretty average 312ppi.
While the colours and brightness are fine you will notice the step down if you've been using a 1080p screen before this. That said for a mid-ranger handset this is pretty much expected and does the job.
In the rear is a 13-megapixel autofocus camera that features HDR, face and smile detection and touch focus.
As expected it comes with a few fun features built-in like panorama and burst modes. It also has an LED flash and comes with a QR scanner app built in. It'll managed 1080p video at 30 frames per second.
The front facing camera is a 1.3-megapixel shooter that can record video at 720p resolution. This is a real shame. Including the Deco light to improve selfie photos almost seems like an after-thought when you look at how low-res those photos are. That said the light does help to improve what might otherwise be a pretty useless selfie camera.
The Idol Alpha comes with Android Jelly Bean 4.2 so it's a little dated already. And there are no plans for a further update - be warned.
Apps that come with the phone are helpful. The flashlight, QR scanner, Compass, Media Share and One Touch Backup are all useful but not really anything you couldn’t find on Android anyway. It's just nice to see they come built-in for ease of use – it makes the user feel like they're getting more for you money.
The Alcatel OneTouch Alpha is an attractive smartphone. It's slim, premium and strong with that metallic frame and looks futuristic with the Deco lighting.
The operating system, front-facing camera and screen resolution might put some people off. But for the £285 price this phone offers a lot.