Alcatel OneTouch Idol 2 Mini S – Screen
The Alcatel OneTouch Idol 2 Mini S has a 4.7-inch QHD screen. This sort of resolution sits one step below 720p in the phone world.
We’ll admit to being slightly disappointed at this, as the previous Alcatel OneTouch Idol S was cheaper and offered a 720p screen. This one may be called ‘Mini’ but its SIM-free price is actually higher than that of the older model. The Idol S is no longer widely available, but it was one of the key rivals to the Moto G for bargain hunters in 2013.
The 960 x 540-pixel screen is quite clearly a lot less sharp than the 720p Moto G’s, lacking the pristine, smooth text you get with a truly high-ppi screen. The Mini S offers 245ppi, which is fairly low for a £170 phone in 2014. It’s far from alone in this class, mind. The Sony Xperia M2 uses the same resolution but has an even larger display, resulting in an even lower pixels-per-inch count of 229.
Our issue here isn’t just that the Moto G range offers a 720p display for less money, but that the EE Kestrel gets you a similar quality screen for just £90-99. At SIM-free prices, the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 2 Mini S offers surprisingly poor value for money given the Alcatel OneTouch brand has often been associated with low-cost, high-value phones.
It’s not all bad news for the Mini S display, though. Its black level and colours are reasonably respectable, although you do need to get rid of the default vomity green-blue gradients plastered over this phone’s UI to really appreciate it. It does itself no favours at times.
The screen’s style also has a knock-on effect for battery life, which, as we’ll see later, is pretty dreadful. The Mini S has an auto-brightness setting, using an ambient light sensor to automatically move the backlight level up and down to suit the outdoors or indoors conditions. However, it’s almost universally too bright when used indoors.
A bright screen can look good, but a too-bright screen uses more power and can make the display appear too intense — with whites almost painful to look at and the tone just being too intense. That the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 2 Mini S backlight has the intensity to do this is good, but that we experience it when checking emails in the office isn’t ideal.
There are also three manual low-mid-bright backlight settings to let you fix this slightly broken part of the phone, but we shouldn’t have to use them when there’s an auto-brightness setting. The Mini S offers no way to tone down the auto mode. We hope this will be addressed in one way or another in an update. But don’t count on it.
On top of the display sits a layer of Dragontrail glass, a lesser-known Gorilla Glass rival. From a little research it doesn’t seem to be as strong as Gorilla Glass 3, but did the job for our testing: no scratches yet.
The Alcatel OneTouch Idol 2 Mini S is a strange patchwork of good and bad bits, of both strong and weak attention to detail. For example, there’s a good oleophobic coating that makes fingerprints a non-issue, but you’re far more likely to notice the backlight problem.
There’s also some backlight leakage in the Mini S’s screen, where you can see brighter bits at the extreme edges from the backlight LEDs’ emissions.
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