Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (4.7) review

Phones

The Good Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (4.7) has a portable, compact size and delivers reliable performance overall at a budget price. Hardware and software add value.

The Bad Stumbling stones include its more sophisticated camera app, and it doesn’t work on every global operator.

The Bottom Line The rare, smaller, Android phone that costs money, the 4.7-inch Idol 3 Alcatel is a reliable purchase for those looking for a low-cost, 5-inch phone.

7.4 Overall

  • Design
    7
  • Features
    8
  • Performance
    7
  • Camera
    8
  • Battery
    7

Alcatel 4.7-inch OneTouch Idol 3 smaller and slightly weaker than the one 5.5-inch budget power plant that knocked our socks off for its price range – it costs $ 180 in the US, about £ 150 in the UK and $ 299 in Australia. However, this version of the pint size has many of the same OS and OS attributes, for even less cha-ching. This is a compelling purchase.

These include a slim, compact silhouette and a reversible software interface that lets you pick up your phone in any way you want, without waving up. The JBL’s powerful dual speakers also pump out ringtones and conference calls better than most in this category, and the camera takes decent outdoor photos with a few (frankly expected) problems indoors.

While the smaller Idol 3 here faces its unwavering competition from the excellent customizable Motorola Moto G at the end of 2015 , it does about the same slightly less (we only recommend the 16GB Moto G, not the 8GB model), however, battery life is not as good as the Moto G. This Idol 3 does, however, best similar prices HTC Desire 626 and today stands out as one of the only decent phones with a screen size of less than 5 inches. (See the full specification comparison table below.)

In a nutshell, the 4.7-inch Idol 3 is a good hard-working option, but I’d also consider the latest-generation Moto G or the larger Idol 3 if you’re not specifically seeking a smaller phone. In the US in particular, the Moto G’s biggest gain is that it’s water-resistant. Like the G, Alcatel’s phone will run on AT&T and T-Mobile only.

You can pick it up from various internet outlets such as the Alcatel website and Amazon.

Pocket-size Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 still packs punch (pictures)

Features vs. Specs: Comparison of rivals

Alcatel Idol 3 (4.7) Alcatel Idol 3 (5.5) Motorola Moto G (Late 2015) HTC Desire 626
Display 4.7-inch 1,280×720 pixels 5.5-inch, 1,920×1,080 pixels 5-inch with 1,280×720-pixel resolution 5-inch with 1,280×720-pixel resolution
Pixel density 312ppi 401ppi 294ppi 294ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.3 x 2.6 x 0.30 6.0 x 3.0 x 0.29 5.6 x 2.9 x 0.48 5.8 x 2.8 x 0.32
Dimensions (Milimeter) 134.6 x 65.9 x 7.55 152.7 x 75.14 x 7.4 142 x 72.4 x 11.6 147 x 71 x 8.2
Weight 3.9 oz, 110 grams 5 oz, 145 grams 5.5 oz, 155 grams 4.9 ounces, 140 grams
Mobile operating system Android 5.0 Android 5.0 Android 5.1.1 Android 5.1.1
Camera 13-megapixel 13-megapixel 13-megapixel 8-megapixel
Front-facing camera 5-megapixel 8-megapixel 5-megapixel 5-megapixel
Video capture 1080p HD 1080p HD 1080p HD 720p HD
Processor 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Spandragon 410 1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 610 1.4GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 1GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 210
Storage 16GB 16GB 8GB or 16GB 16GB
Graphics processor Adreno 306 Adreno 405 Adreno 306 Adreno 304
Expandable storage Up to 32GB Up to 128GB Up to 32GB Up to 2TB (terabytes)
Battery 2,000mAh 2,910mAh 2,470mAh 2,000mAh
RAM 1.5GB 2GB 1GB or 2GB 1.5GB
Extras? Reversible OS, dual front speakers Reversible OS, dual front speakers IPX7 water resistant (can survive in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes)
Price (US) $180 $250 $180 or $220 ~$200 (varies by carrier)
Price (UK) £150 £200 £180 or £210 £130
Price (AU) $300 $350 $370 $278

Compact design and construction

  • 4.7-inch display1,280×720 pixels (312 pixels per inch)
  • 5.3 by 2.6 by 0.30 inches (134.6 by 65.9 by 7.55 mm)
  • 110 grams

If you’ve seen the 5.5-inch version, it looks just like it, but smaller. If not, here’s what you get: black face and dark gray, almost graphite color on the thorns and lining. The bezel shines with an artificial metallic sheen, and the back has a matt metal appearance. The top and bottom are rounded, but on the front, this part reclines to make room for two JBL speakers, one at each end of the phone (they are loud enough and clean for the smartphone). Placement also helps to make the whole reversing concept work: what you get on the top, you get on the bottom.

In fact, it’s the real north of the Idol 3 phones – the one that puts the power / lock button on the left and the volume rocker on the right, plus the speaker jack and the Micro-USB card slot on the bottom. The rear camera mount lives in the upper left corner with the flash on the bottom right, so make sure your fingers do not snap to snapshots until you stabilize your phone for quick access.

Dual surround speakers on the top and bottom strip make some noise. Josh Miller

The Idol 3 pad cannot be removed – nor is the battery – but you can insert a microSD card through the side tray.

Size matters

Can we go back to size in a minute? Good, because I think it’s important here. Nowadays, phones with larger screens are considered better, but it is also true that not everyone wants the handset to be bigger than their hands. This one slips more easily into my pocket, adds less weight to my already shoulder-bending wallet, and is usually easy to handle and maneuver. I miss it on the phone.

On the other hand, a comparatively smaller screen means you will have a smaller keyboard to work with, and you may find that you are holding the phone closer to your face or pressing your neck to get more familiar with websites, photos and videos.

Software and apps

  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Reversible interface
  • Double-tap the screen lock feature

Editor’s note: The operating system is the same in both version 5.5 and this 4.7-inch model here. So I took the liberty to remove this section from my previous review.

Idol, which was first announced last March, runs Android 5.0. This may not be the first Alcatel phone to be upgraded Android 6.0 Marshmallow (Top-end models are usually the first to see them), but let’s just assume that over time, it will acquire new software. Android is recognized under Alcatel custom skin, though the company has added a few enhancements. Some are better, but a few tweaks need not be confused or even impeded by fast navigation, as if Alcatel wanted to make its mark but didn’t know what to do. I’ll mention a few.

Reversible mode

The first for phones, Alcatel has made its interface “reversible”, which means that the screen is oriented right side up, even when you flip the phone upside down, with the camera lens at the bottom. The dominant speakers and microphone are also tuned to the “up” side required for making calls.

Reversing mode is a sensible idea that is also quite convenient. I was much less concerned with the orientation of my phone when I tucked it into my pocket or purse, tweaking or grabbing it from the surface. The only inconvenience was when I wanted to use the camera. Due to its placement on the corner, my finger is much easier to move when using the phone upside down.

Activate the reverse mode from the settings or from its shortcut to the notification shade.

The 13-megapixel rear camera takes some sharp photos. Josh Miller

Double-tap

In my opinion, every phone should be able to turn the screen on and off by double tapping. There are a few already, and I’m glad to see it here on Idol 3. It saves time on its own, but it’s important if you use the phone in reverse mode, since you don’t have to cling to that power / lock button if you forget which side is moving.

My two complaints are that you can’t blur from a lock screen or camera app, two reviews that don’t seem to have an obvious reason.

Notifications menu

Alcatel uses a two-tier notification shade. Pull down as usual and you will see your notifications that you can dismiss one by one or sweep in bulk. Pull down again if you want to release the shortcut menu. I prefer to do it all in one go.

Although there is a brightness slider, there is surprisingly no choice for automatic brightness to adjust the screen in dark and sunny conditions. In some Android skins, a long click on the Wi-Fi icon will take you to the full list of networks in Settings, but it’s not right here. Click the text below the icon here. Alcatel says it is a Lollipop convention, but in this case it is better to borrow from competitors from the original manufacturers.

Lock screen

Alcatel makes its own lock screen with a number of shortcuts at the bottom of the screen (including one for selfies) and shortcuts for the camera and dial in the corners. So far, it’s good, but it’s not very intuitive to use. To open them, double-tap notifications and icons.

You also need to swipe corners in non-intuitive directions to open them. For example, the camera icon in the lower right corner swipes to the left (not right) to open it. None of this is a big deal, but it can aggravate you if you switch from another phone.

Camera quality

The image quality on the 13MP camera is quite good here, especially for a budget phone. Outdoor photography is prevalent, and indoor and low-light shots, although grainy, dim and lacking clarity, are no worse than on other phones. In fact, in some cases it was better. However, there was one slight annoyance. I’m still not sure why, but I’ve recorded more false photos than on other phones. Removing them is easy enough, but at least it adds a little extra time.

If you have decided between the Moto G (end of 2015) and the 4.7-inch Idol 3, there are some trade-offs to be made. When viewed on a computer screen, photos from both cameras and under all proven lighting conditions turned out to be richer on the Idol 3 and paler on the Moto G.

The built-in tools are quite comparable, though Idol includes a time lapse mode and a dedicated scanner. For its part, the Moto phone has low-light mode and shoots slow motion video.

Native app layout

Before we get to the photos themselves, there is a word in the camera app that may be more user-friendly. Idol 3 adheres to the standard Lollipop, which makes photo review difficult to find. There are no useful thumbnails to see what you just shot. Rather, you need to slide your finger across the screen to see photos that were before. I often felt that moment of uncertainty as to whether or not I was being photographed, and I had to stop what I was doing to find out. I hope that future versions will return the thumbnail view.

I’m also not a big fan of layout in this app. (By the way, the native application does not flip over with the rest of the UI, which is a pity.) For example, the only way to go back to the main menu is by using the Back button, but you cannot access normal home controls or open tricks while in the camera application.

Videos also start recording as soon as you go out of camera mode, which was usually not what I wanted, especially if I accidentally opened the mode. Oddly enough, the screen of the phone screen did not run out on my review block when I accidentally left the camera app open.

The flower looked nice and crisp taken outdoors. Jessica Dolcourt
Shot indoors, these dumplings look good enough to eat. Jessica Dolcourt
Here, some chocolate chip cookies shot on the 4.7-inch Idol 3. Jessica Dolcourt
The same picture on the Moto 3 (Late 2015) Jessica Dolcourt
CNET video producer Sally, taken on the Idol 3. Jessica Dolcourt
Sally on the Moto G. Jessica Dolcourt
Electric Tetris cubes in a darkened office, taken on the Idol 3. Jessica Dolcourt
The same again with the Moto G. Jessica Dolcourt
Exposure looks pretty even in this standard studio shot. Josh Miller

Battery Performance and Resource

    • 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410
    • 16 GB internal storage
    • 1.5GB RAM
    • 2,000mAh battery

    The special aromatic processor used by Alcatel here is very common among phones of this level, so it is expected that they will show similar scores in our standard benchmark tests (see Graph below). Bootup took 50 seconds, which is on the longer side but still within normal range.

    Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 Performance Charts (4.7)

    HTC Desire 626 4206 295 978 Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (4.7) 4380 469 1446 Motorola Moto G 4473 528 1608 Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (5.5) 7588 609 2548

    Legend:

    3DMark Score (Ice Storm Unlimited) Geekbench 3 Score (Single-Core) Geekbench 3 Score (Multi-Core)

    Note:

    Longer bars indicate better performance

    The navigation was completely consistent with other phones that use the same Snapdragon 400 chipset, and applications open without much delay. Camera time was also reasonably fast. The Riptide GP2 water skiing game seemed to be on par with other phones in its class, though its excellent speaker quality and lightweight, small construction made it even easier to maneuver.

    In our battery-powered video release tests, the Idol 3 ran an average of 11.9 hours, compared to the Moto G.

    Call quality and data rate

    • 4G LTE
    • Wi-Fi networks: 802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz
    • GSM technology: 850/900/1800/1900 bands

    In general, phone calls on the 4.7-inch Idol 3 sounded almost at the top of the range, although your experience may vary depending on the power of your home voice network. The voices were a bit cold and distant, not saturated and round, though the long conversation sounded natural enough. I also didn’t notice the background noise. My calling partner thought I sounded great, with a landline loyalty, and without distracting buzz or static.

    The loudspeaker was fine, but he bumped in and out, forcing him to follow the conversation. The echo of the room was more noticeable to my partner, who also said I sounded a bit distant – I kept my phone at hip level.

    In terms of data, downloads and downloads seem to be several times smaller than usual in my area with Idol 3, but as always, your performance depends entirely on the power of the network where you live.

    Buy or miss?

    With a 4.7-inch Idol 3, size is everything. Phones less than 5 inches often feel cheap these days, now that “bigger” has largely become synonymous with “better.” It’s nice to see an affordable “mini” tube with a full bag of tricks.

    As for its price, the smaller Idol 3 packs a vollop here, but compared to the Moto G, there are some trade-offs.

    Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (4.7)

    • Smaller screen
    • Double-tap screen, reversible OS
    • Loud speakers

    Motorola Moto G (end of 2013)

    • Larger screen
    • Water-resistant
    • Customizable design

    Motorola’s customizable design goes a long way to making your device feel like your own, with a slightly longer battery life. In terms of performance satisfaction, however, the two devices are neck and neck. If your decision comes between Moto G and this Idol 3, I really think you’ll be happy with any of them.

    If you have a little extra cash to spare and screen size preference isn’t holding you back, I’d go for the 5.5-inch Idol myself, which has a faster processor, sharper screen and more storage space. Skip the HTC Desire 626 and go with the Idol 3 (or Motorola Moto G) instead.

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