My week with the Alcatel Onetouch Idol 3. This review was written entirely on my Idol 3.
My journey began Friday afternoon, July 17th, when I arrived home to a nice package in my mailbox.
So opening the box you find a sleek phone that is almost the exact dimensions of the oneplus one, if only a tiny bit thinner. The Idol 3 looks great with its front facing speakers and lack of any capacitive buttons (my preferred style). Flipping it over you see the camera is in the corner and the Idol branding.
It is a bit bigger than I thought like a phone to be. I maintain the nexus 4 and 5 are great form factors that are more than enough for me. This packs a 5.5" display with small bezels on the sides but maybe a bit larger along the top and bottom than was necessary.
The power button is on the left side along with the Sim card / SD card tray. The power button is a little high for my liking and can be a bit awkward reaching for it. The volume rockers are along the right side, also a bit high up for comfortable use during phone calls. It would have been nice if all these buttons were on the left side to make controls easier, but that only works well for me as a right handed user.
It came with a nice pair of headphones and included several earpieces to fit the various sizes anyone could need.
The phone is surprisingly light and nice to hold. The smooth edges are easy on my hands. It is also quite thin which is a surprise compare to similar size phones on the market.
This may be inconsequential but I love the placement of the Sim tool since it saved a little plastic bag as I have seen in other phone purchases.
Right on startup I was prompted by a software update before I could even begin adding my Google accounts. This was kinda nice and the patch apparently has improved performance of the camera as well as overall phone performance.
The startup sound is really loud which surprised me. Thankfully this can be turned off with a little digging under settings. Start up was nice and fast and I was up and running in just a couple minutes.
I love the lack of bloatware on this phone. The apps included were: Facebook, Twitter, facetune,
All which are removable by the user. Only the system specific apps cannot be removed but most can be disabled just like the Google Apps.
The Idol 3 runs on near stock Android. There are a few touches that I think are pretty nice which offer some helpful actions and uses. Material design is omnipresent on this device and Alcatel did a great job with their stock messaging app. It is reminiscent of Google's messenger, but better performing in my opinion. There is one instance I have found where the messaging app gives the 3rd person in my mms the same picture as person #2. I'm sure an app update could fix that.
The func option allows you to add up to 5 functions to the lock screen for quick access. Things like taking a selfie, adding a contact, playing music and the calculator are welcome additions that do not require me to unlock the phone.
There is a reversible mode that allows the phone to used no matter the orientation. I can answer and place calls with the phone upside down and it seems to work well overall. I can hear out of the speaker next to my ear even when upside down and there are mics at both ends to facilitate calls. My only niggles would that it doesn't handle turning the screen back on when I pull it away from my face causing me to have to search for the power button when trying to end a call.
Alcatel also included a nice file manager app that is well designed and looks great thanks to material design.
Powered by a snapdragon 615, there are 8 cores to keep you moving right along. The cores are set up in a 4x4 arrangement for power efficiency. 4 cores running game up to 1.7ghz and the other 4 max out at 1.0ghz.
The 2gb of RAM allows pretty good multitasking and an overall smooth transition between multiple open apps. Only the occasional stutter, but I imagine some future software patches could improve this.
The 5.5" 1080p display ,coming in at 410 ppi, is just amazing. It is probably the brightest screen I have ever had on a phone. I keep it around 25% with adaptive brightness enabled and I have yet to need it brighter during everyday use. The screen is a joy to watch movies on when you crank the brightness up.
The camera is nothing special and takes pictures that work. I never expect the perfect smartphone pics to be as good as my DSLR.
One nice touch is the inclusion of a Barcode scanner in the camera app. All in one works well.
Doesn't have photosphere which is sad but I rarely use that feature.
The Onetouch Idol 3 is overall snappy. There are times I can bog down the phone if I try and sometimes scrolling can show some stutter. Minor to me.
I like the addition of the little broom under the multitasking button that let's you clear background apps with a single click. My nexus 4 could use something like this.
Call performance is what I expect from a phone. Audio was clear and connects quickly. That seems to be network dependent more than phone but this phone is nice to use for calling.
The Idol 3 has front facing speakers which are loud and clear. Sometimes I wonder if I hear tinny sounds or maybe I just haven't heard speakers like this before. This is my first phone with dual front facing speakers and it is pretty nice when I can use them.
Included were a nice pair of JBL tangle "resistant" headphones. These are a major improvement over my existing Samsung headphones and really provide a great audio experience. These function as your antenna with the built in radio app which is a great addition for me as I listen to my local NPR station and don't need to use any data to stream it.
The Idol 3 has a 2910 mAh battery. Amazing that such a battery can be stuffed inside such a little body and still be so light. It is not removable which is something that I don't like and makes me nervous. Even so, if the battery is of moderate quality I should see 2 years easily out of this phone.
The battery life has been incredible. I can easily get 5 hours of screen time with the Idol 3 and make it through 24 hours without a charge easily. I no longer am worried if I will make it to bed time with my phone working since it handles everything I can throw at it. I set the battery saver to kick on at 15% (it is baked into android lollipop) and it does a great job of reducing performance just enough to extend the battery. One day I unplugged my phone about 8pm and made it until after 8pm the next day, with over 4 hours screen time before the battery saver kicked in. I ended up charging it when I went to bed and still had 8% left and nearly 5 hours screen time.
Since this phone is so thin, maybe someone could design a battery case that adds just a bit more and this phone could go 2 solid days on a charge.
The Idol 3 retails for $250. A pretty great deal for a phone that performs well and offers great value for your money. It is up against the oneplus one at the same price point which does have some higher specs. I have not used a oneplus one so I cannot offer a comparison. From my reading
I was able to snag this phone for $200 on the Amazon Prime day as Alcatel offered it for the same price as Amazon. This made it a great buy for me.
Add the fact that Alcatel offers a 30 day money back guarantee (providing the phone is returned in near pristine condition) you just can't go wrong even for $250.
With excellent battery life and reasonable performance running nearly stock android, the Alcatel Onetouch Idol 3 is a great phone. At $250 you can barely beat this solid device.
Crisp sound, beautiful screen, light, long battery life and a form factor (not my personal favorite) that is manageable.
There is some lag that can get annoying but is something minor and could easily be fixed with a software patch. Switching back to my galaxy S5 I notice the performance difference. While it is not that much, there are times where a faster processor helps. If the Idol 3 was clocked a little higher it would perform quite well (you can root and do this at your own risk).
This phone is up against a lot of competition such as the new moto g, original oneplus one, and the all new oneplus 2.
I would give this 4 stars and recommend this to anyone looking for a reasonable budget phone that performs well and offers a great experience.
Tagging +Cass Morrison
for her interest in my thoughts.