First Impressions: Alcatel One Touch Idol Alpha – The Affordable Smart Phone with Premium Look and Feel

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Smart phones within the low to mid-price bracket are often dull, boring and plasticky. It is as if manufacturers wanted to mark you for not paying more for their top-of-the-line models.

Alcatel has been on a roll with their affordable smart phones that’s powered with MediaTek processors. While they reign in the value segment, Alcatel wants to show the world that they equally capable of making premium devices. Is it possible to have an affordable smart phone that’s eye catching and yet premium to hold? The Alcatel One Touch Idol Alpha seems to be able to deliver just that. Read on for our first impressions.

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At first glance, this looks like their best Alcatel smart phone we’ve seen yet. It comes with a solid feeling aluminium frame which is similar to what you’ll get from an iPhone 5/5S while the top and bottom section stands out with a transparent element which is illuminated. The curve lines reminds us of the old Nokia C7 and with a 4.7″ display, it feels nice in a hand for single handed use. Thickness wise, it is rather slim at 7.5mm which is a mere 0.1mm thinner than the iPhone 5S.

The display on the Idol Alpha looks pretty good thanks to its IPS display panel. At 4.7″ in size, it pushes a respectable HD 720p resolution giving a pixel density of 312ppi which is rather sharp. Instead of the usual Gorilla Glass, the Idol Alpha uses Dragon Trail glass to protect its display from day to day abuses. The transparent panel works similar to the iconic Xperia S transparent belt but there are 2 on the Idol Alpha. The top lights up whenever there’s a notification light while the bottom is illuminated when the buttons are in use. While the typical Back, Home and Menu icons are visible, the transparent element is not touch sensitive as it is actually located on the black panel right below the screen.

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During our brief hands-on, we noticed that the Idol Alpha lacked one basic and critical component – a headphone jack. This is probably done for a cleaner design but what difference would an additional headphone jack make if they already had a hole for a micro USB slot? If you intend to use headphones, Alcatel has a micro USB to 3.5mm audio jack adapter included in the box.

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While it is premium on the outside, the Alcatel One Touch Idol Alpha is rather mid-spec internally. It runs on a modest 1.2GHz Quad-Core processor with 1GB of RAM and there’s 16GB of on-board storage which is non-expandable. This is a single SIM device and it supports faster 3G HSPA+ up to 42Mbps. For imaging, it gets a 13MP shooter at the back like its bigger Idol X+ while the front settles for a lower 1.3MP shooter. Overall, the Idol Alpha weighs 117 grams with its 2,000mAh non-removable battery.

The Idol Alpha is priced at RM1,099 and this is probably one of the better built phones for less than RM1,200. A microSD expansion slot and dedicated head phone jack would have made this a perfect mid-tier smart phone. The closest competitor would probably be the aluminium clad HTC One mini but it is hard to justify its RM300-400 price difference. If you’re on a budget and looking for something unique, the Idol Alpha is definitely worth checking out.

For those who can fork out a little bit more, you can also consider the more powerful Idol X+ which comes with a 5″ Full HD display running on a 2GHz Octa-Core processor at RM1,299.

Alcatel One Touch Idol Alpha Hands-On Video

Alcatel One Touch Idol Alpha Hands-On Photos

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