Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 

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Motorola certainly opened a Pandora style box with the release of its Moto G smartphone. As a result other companies are now developing handsets that combine reasonable specifications with a price point that does not cause you to catch your breath or feel a pinch on your wallet. One such example of this trend is the Idol 3 from Alcatel OneTouch. For those unfamiliar with Alcatel OneTouch, I should explain that the brand is the result of a joint venture between Alcatel Lucent of France and TCL Communication of China.

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This handset is available in either 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch screen sizes with this review being based on the latter version.  The Idol 3 adopts the standard smartphone look of a slab appearance with the screen dominating the front of the unit.  In this case the Idol 3’s body, predominately dark grey in colour with silver faux metal trimming, has dimensions of 152.7 x 75.1 x 7.4mm (H x W x D).

The Idol 3’s 5.5-inch capacity touch screen delivers a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels.  While this screen was fine in artificial lighting conditions, matters changed somewhat when venturing outdoors into natural light.  With birth light conditions I really struggled to make out images on this screen and was often forced to use the handset in two-handed mode with one hand providing shade in order to see what was being displayed.  The abundance of finger smears did not help in this matter.

I found that the Idol 3 fitted comfortably in the hand and did not suffer from a tendency to slide when not firmly gripped.  Positioned near the top of the right hand side of the handset is the volume rocker while the power button occupies a similar position on the left side.  Just below the power button is a slot for a tray that can hold both the SIM card and an option micro SD card to increase the standard storage option of 16GB.  This tray requires a supplied pin tool to release the tray from its compartment.

Appropriately positioned at the top of the handset is a 3.5mm jack socket for attaching a headset (one is supplied in the box).  Located on the base of the handset is a micro USB port.  Using the supplied lead and power adapter (hopefully not the two-pin variety supplied with my review unit), this port allows you to charge the non-removable Li-ion 2910mAh battery.  I was able to get just over nine hours of video watching, leaving 11% still available, with this battery.

The Idol 3 has both front and rear-mounted camera.  Located above the screen, the front mounted camera is an 8MP model.  Situated in the top left cornet of the handset’s back plate is the unit’s 13MP camera with its own flash unit.  A pair of front mounted speakers take up a position below the screen.

Powering the 5.5-inch Idol 3 is a Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615 processor backed up by a quad-core 1.5GHz Cortex-A53, quad-core 1.0GHz Cortex-A53 and Adreno 405 modules.  Internal memory is set at 16GB with 2GB of RAM.  As supplied, the Idol 3 had 9.08GB of available storage space for the user and this can be supplemented by a microSD card up to a maximum of 128GB which should be more than enough for the majority of users.

Powering up the Idol 3 requires a 3-second depress of the power button followed by a fairly lengthy wait of 47 seconds before arriving at the Lollipop Lock screen.  A quick swipe brings up the four pane Home screen.  The initial view contains status and search bars plus icons for Apps, Games, Radio, Mix, Camera, Gallery, Play Store and Google.  Occupying the Favourites tray at the bottom of the screen are apps for phone, messages, applications list, email and browser.

A swipe to the right brings up a pane to switch between various wallpaper images.  Swiping in the opposite direction reveals a pane that contains links to apps categorised as tools, social, media and assistance.  This feature should be appreciated by those fairly new to the smartphone environment.

When interacting with the Idol 3, the usual array of touches and gestures are supported as you slide, swipe, pinch, flick and rotate the screen.  While on the subject of rotating the screen, the Idol 3 will always automatically adjust the screen layout so whichever way you pick it up, the screen will be displayed as if it was the correct position.  This is in additional to the usual landscape / portrait orientation switching of other smartphones.  You also get an appealing animation if you twist the handset around 180 degrees.

When using the handset’s photographic capability you have a choice of Auto, HDR, Pano, Manual, Time Lapse, Scanner and Face Beauty which ever camera, front or rear, you opt for.  You do need to be aware that the default settings for the rear-mounted camera is set at 10MP in 16:9 aspect.  You can change this to 13MP at 4:3 aspect.  If you want 16:9 aspect with the front camera then you will need to switch to either 6 or 3MP mode.

Along with the Android 5.02 Lollipop operating system, Alcatel have pre-installed a number of popular apps.  There are the usual Google apps plus offerings such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatApps, Evernote, Adobe Reader, AVG Anti-virus, Dropbox and WPS Office.  For more relaxing activities, a number of games are available.  These titles include 2020 My Country, Cars Racing, Spiderman and Puzzle Pets.

Overall the Idol 3 performed well apart from viewing the screen in bright outdoor lighting conditions.  At the time of writing had this product listed, as reviewed, at £199.99.

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 Smartphone
Technology GSM HSPA LTE
Display Type IPS LCD Capacity touchscreen 16M colours
Platform Android 5.0 Lollipop
Optional storage microSD up to 128GB
Internal memory 16GB and 2GB RAM
Primary camera 13MP 4128 x 3096 pixels
Second camera 8MP 1080p
WLAN 802.11a/b/g/n dual band Wi-Fi Direct DNLA
Bluetooth 4.1 A2DP
Radio FM radio with RDS
Sensors Accelerometer proximity compass

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OverallAlcatel OneTouch Idol 3 rated 76 out of 100

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