French manufacturer Alcatel has traditionally been known for producing basic phones; if you wanted anything above texting and calling and rudimentary web browsing then you had to look elsewhere. That’s all set to change with yet more additions to the company's One Touch range, launched at Mobile World Congress 2013.
Leading the range is the One Touch Idol X, a quad-core 5-inch Full HD handset. But can Alcatel really compete in the cut-throat world of high-end touchscreen smartphones? We went hands-on with the One Touch Idol X to find out.
There are certain things we’ve come to expect with budget smartphones and one of them is that design will be compromised. This often results in devices which feel cheap and plasticky, and which could all too easily be the butt of “Yo mama so ugly” jokes.
The One Touch Idol X bucks this trend by looking every bit as good as most of the high-end phones available on the market today. At just 7.1mm thick it’s 0.5mm slimmer than an iPhone 5 and a whole 1.5mm thinner than the Galaxy S3. On top of that the Idol X sports a tiny screen bezel, just 2.4mm thick which makes it one of the most compact 5-inch phones out there.
Available in a variety of colours the soft-touch plastic on the back of the Idol X is pleasing to hold and gives the Idol X some additional grip that's sorely lacking in the majority of phones on the market today. It also gives the phone a surprisingly premium feel, unlike the sensation of smooth plastic which often feels cheap.
Dan Dery, Alcatel’s Chief Marketing Officer told Trusted Reviews that the One Touch range isn’t designed to compete directly with the Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5, rather it’s about providing consumers with “simple, easy to use and easy to choose” phones and creating “devices for people”. This seems like a sensible marketing angle to us, however good design will be paramount if Alcatel is to be successful with their One Touch range of smartphones.
As with the One Touch Star, Alcatel have surprised us with the quality of the screen on the Idol X. The 5-inch 1920x1080 Full HD IPS display is stunning, and not just for a budget phone either. Unlike on some AMOLED displays colour reproduction is excellent, with full HD content also looked particularly lively. . Viewing angles are also very good with no noticeable colour shifts.
With a 1.5GHz quad-core processor and 1GB RAM on board the Idol X runs Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean smoothly with no apparent jerkiness when opening apps or scrolling quickly through the phone. There's no lag with multitasking either, as we’d expect with that much power under the hood.
In terms of storage the Idol X offers 16GB of internal memory, which can be increased by 32GB thanks to the addition of a microSD card slot, which should be sufficient for all but the most content hungry users.
One concern we do have One Touch X, as with so many smartphones, is battery life. It’s impressive that Alcatel have managed to cram a 2000mAh battery into such a slim phone, however that 5-inch Full HD screen and quad-core processor will doubtless be power hungry and we can imagine the battery draining fast. We’ll have to wait until we can perform our own battery tests before we have a true indication of how long it can last.
There are presently conflicting reports on whether the UK version of the One Touch X will be 3G or have 4G capability. We'd expect to see a 3G offering for the UK market, but 4G for the Asian market which has a more developed 4G infrastructure.
With an 8-megapixel camera the Idol X won’t exactly be cutting edge when it comes to mobile photography. We don’t expect good performance in low-light conditions either, however the camera should be perfectly adequate for basic snapshots. Full HD video recording will also feature. A 13-megapixel dual-SIM version of the phone (sans microSD slot) will also be produced, but it’s unlikely this version will appear in the UK, US or Europe.
It's safe to say that we were impressed with the One Touch Idol X prototype we got our hands on and with a potential price of under £250 (TBC) it looks to be an absolute bargain. The four colour options and sleekness of design will appeal to the style conscious who don’t necessarily want to spend more than twice the money on an iPhone 5 or Galaxy S4 for features they’ll never use such as NFC, 4G or (the much mooted) eight-core processor. Barring an issue with battery life we expect the Idol X to be a heavy hitter in the mid-range phone category. Keep your eyes peeled for a full review soon.