Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 4.7 review

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We earlier reviewed the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3, one of the more premium off-contract smartphones you can get your hands on. Now, Alcatel OneTouch has released a smaller, 4.7-inch variant of the device aiming to reach a wider and more populated part of the market.

With the major screen reduction, there’s also been a drastic hit to the device’s specifications, which could potentially cause some worry as far as performance goes. Fortunately, the 4.7-inch Idol 3 still runs and looks like a champ!

Design

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The 4.7-inch Idol 3 takes on an identical design to its bigger brother, only with a smaller form factor. It sizes in at 134.6 x 65.9 x 7.6mm and weights a meager 110 grams. Similar to the original model, speakers are placed directly below and above the display.

Unlike the larger 5.5-inch Idol 3, this 4.7-inch model fits firmly in the hand, making it easy to manage the 4.7-inches of screen real estate.

It has the same dark color with a brushed texture on the phone’s plastic back. It doesn’t suffer from being easily bendable, as you might expect in a much smaller and less heftier device.

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An audio jack is placed at the top of the device, a micro-USB port on the bottom. The power button is placed on the left side of the device right above the SIM-card tray, and the volume rocker sits comfortably on the right side.

Right above the display is a 5MP camera capable of recording video in 1080p. Around the back, on the top left of the device, is a 13MP camera with autofocus and an LED flash is placed right below the sensor.

Hardware

This model of the Idol 3 features a 4.7-inch 1280×720 IPS LCD display, a Snapdragon 410 chipset, a quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex-A53 processor, 1.5GB of RAM, an Adreno 306 GPU, and storage options of 8 or 16GB. There’s microSD card support, and the device is sporting a 2,000mAh battery.

The device supports the same bands as its bigger brother:

  • GSM Quad (850, 900, 1800, 1900) CHANGE BANDS
  • UMTS/HSPA+ (850, 900, 1900, 2100)
  • 4G LTE (1, 3, 7, 8, 20)

Performance

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I was very surprised how well the 4.7-inch Idol 3 ran, to be frank. Featuring a Snapdragon 410 processor clocked at 1.2GHz and 1.5GB of RAM, there was quite a drop in sheer processing power. However, it’s still a snappy processor and the RAM seems to be more than sufficient.

Everything ran smoothly and apps opened almost immediately. There were small delays in opening the camera and browsing through the gallery, but nothing too bad. I did notice that more demanding games like Modern Combat 5 and Asphalt 8 run a bit sluggish and the phone got quite hot when playing those titles.

The 4.7-inch Idol 3 plays your average games like Clash of Clans, Angry Birds, and others like a champ, though.

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As for the display, you get a 4.7-inch 1280×720 IPS LCD panel, which is a significant change from its bigger brother’s 5.5-inch Full HD 1920 x 1080 display. Everything about the display still looks great, despite that.

Colors aren’t washed out, text looks crisp, icons are well defined, and so on. Obviously when you compare the two side-by-side, you’re going to notice a difference, largely because the drop in pixels-per-inch. The 4.7-inch Idol 3 has 312ppi compared to the Idol 3’s 400ppi. The LCD panel still performed well outdoors in direct sunlight, despite not having the vivid and vibrant colors that AMOLED display sport.

Finally, the device features dual front-facing speakers, making for an excellent audio experience thanks to Alcatel OneTouch’s partnership with JBL. A pair of JBL headphones are included in the package when you buy the Idol 3, and while they’re more ideal for listening to music, they didn’t sound as great as the speakers on the smartphone.

Battery

The 4.7-inch Idol 3 is by no means a power hungry smartphone, featuring a humble 4.7-inch IPS LCD display. It’s a relatively efficient smartphone, and the biggest battery drain you’re going to see will come from 4G LTE connectivity.

It has a 2,000mAh non-removable battery, and it will easily give users enough power to get through the work day and well into the evening hours.

Software

This is yet another area where Alcatel OneTouch excelled with the Idol 3. The company changed very little as far as software changes go. You basically get the pure Android experience, excluding a few features Alcatel OneTouch added, such as an option to make the phone fully reversible. The only real downside is that some of Alcatel OneTouch’s app icons look clunky.

The device is loaded with a lot of the company’s own applications; however, Alcatel OneTouch took the initiative to build them with Google’s Material Design guidelines. The software doesn’t feel cluttered. In fact, everything is relatively fast and responsive.

The Idol 3 4.7-inch is running Android 5.0, and being an unlocked device, updates will come straight from Alcatel OneTouch, skipping the middlemen that are the carriers. This generally means faster updates, although Android 5.1 has yet to be seen, though we imagine it’s in the works.

Camera

Alcatel OneTouch’s 4-7-inch Idol 3 features the same 13-megapixel sensor as the larger handset, allowing the user to take quick, beautiful, and snappy photos. As expected, the same camera problems plague this lower-end model, producing subpar photos in low light situations.

Photos look decent in optimal lighting settings, but unfortunately, stills still seem to look washed out, grainy, and lack definition and detail. The device’s 5-megapixel front-facing sensor is a step down from the 8-megapixel camera on the previous model, albeit camera quality seems to remain the same that we see from even the front-facing cameras of flagship devices.

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It has all of your usual features–Auto, HDR, Panorama, Time lapse, Manual, Scanner and, Face Beauty. Scanner is for scanning QR codes and is actually pretty unique to the Idol 3 devices, considering it’s not a normal feature even in most flagship devices.

Closing

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Overall, the Idol 3 even its 4.7-inch form factor is a great device in comparison to many other off-contract solutions. Alcatel OneTouch twice now have been able to put together a premium package at a low price point for those that would prefer sticking to the off-contract payment model.

The device sells for $179 on Alcatel OneTouch’s own online store and through Amazon. This is a significant drop from the 5.5-inch models $249 price point, making this lower spec’d model even more attractive for those looking for a premium smartphone at a low price point.


About the Author: Brad Ward

Brad is a tech enthusiast, writing and tinkering with all things technology since 2011. He currently bounces between the LG G3 and his beloved Moto X! His interests include reading, entrepreneurship, the gym, and of course, queso.