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New smartphone's packaging doubles as VR viewer

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Idol 4S

You might not have heard of Alcatel, but it's just come up with a genuinely interesting idea for the launch of its new smartphone.

The Alcatel Idol 4S looks to be a fairly ordinary-looking upper-mid-range Android smartphone from the Chinese manufacturer. What sets the Idol 4S apart from the crowd is its packaging.

As VentureBeat notes, it comes in a hard plastic box that doubles as a Google Cardboard-compliant VR viewer. The phone slots back into this re-assembled packaging, and you have yourself an instant VR experience, all for less than $400 (£277).

Aside from this stand-out feature, the Alcatel Idol 4S looks to be a very capable - if deeply unspectacular - smartphone. It comes with a 5.5-inch Full HD AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 652 CPU, 3GB of RAM, 16GB of storage (plus microSD expansion), and a 16-megapixel camera.

One other feature that you don't get on many non-Sony-branded smartphones these days - a dedicated key for launching the camera from sleep.

From the looks of the image above, there'll be more than a hint of the Samsung Galaxy S6 to the Idol 4S's design.

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There'll also be an Alcatel Idol 4 offered, with a smaller 4.7-inch display, a lesser Snapdragon 617 CPU, and 2GB of RAM. It'll cost around $250 (£173).

Both phones are expected to hit the market in May.

Next, take a look at our Samsung VR hands-on video:

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