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Testing the Alcatel One Touch Idol 3

Without a doubt, 2015 is the year of the mid-range smartphone. After Archos 50 Diamond that was praised for its excellent value for money but became so scarce that its price has increased, that Alcatel One Touch spear turn this ultra-competitive niche with  Idol 3.

alcatel_one_touch

Factsheet

Model Alcatel One Touch Idol 3
Android Version Android 5.0.2 (Lollipop)
Screen Size 5.5 inches
Screen technology IPS LCD
Definition 1080 × 1920 pixels
Resolution ~ 400 ppi
Impact resistance and scratch N / A
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 615
Number of Cores 4 Cortex-A53 + 4 @ 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 @ 1 GHz
Graphics chip (GPU) Adreno 405
Random access memory (RAM) 2GB LPDDR3
Internal memory (ROM) 16 GB (11 GB is actually available)
Micro-SD Yes (up to 128GB)
Camera (dorsal) 13 megapixel (Sony IMX214)
Camera (Front) 8 megapixels
Wi-Fi 802.11 a / b / g / n
Geolocation GPS, A-GPS
Bluetooth Yes (4.1)
SIM 1 micro-SIM slot
NFC Yes
Sensors Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Ports
(inputs / outputs)
microUSB v2.0
Water resistance
Dust resistance
No
No
Battery 2910 mAh (non-removable)
Dimensions 152.7 × 75.14 × 7.4mm
Weight 140.7 grams
Colors White Black
List Price 249 euros

Some clarification is needed before going into the details of the test. We must first know that Alcatel One Touch does not offer one but two Idol 3 . Both smartphones are as alike as two peas perspective design but one of the two has a 4.7 inch screen while the second shows a diagonal of 5.5 inches. The phone we will discuss in this test is the version of 5.5 inches. This is by far the most interesting version of Idol 3. It includes a full HD (1920 × 1080 pixels), which is actually rather unusual (and very valuable) on this kind of phone in this price range, a 615 Snapdragon processor, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory. Version 5.5 inches of Idol also enjoys a substantial battery of a little less than 3000 mAh. A data sheet that is as good or slightly better than the Archos 50 Diamond that we tested there a few weeks . Its price is higher, however: count 249 euros for 3 Idol against 199 euros for the 50 Diamond. The difference is that ordering a 3 Idol will not be asked to wait a month (if not more) before receiving his phone, not to mention a refund offer launched on the occasion of its release just drive down the price.

We have not been able to test the other version of the Idol 3, it has a 4.7 inch screen. I must say that we are much more skeptical of its value. If the two phones share the same name and the same design, they are far from having the same power. 4.7-inch version, the Idol 3 includes an HD display (1280 × 720 pixels), a Snapdragon 410 a little lazy, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal memory and a battery of 2000 mAh. So this is a good smartphone less than 200 euros, but the data sheet offers no clear line with what can be found in the competition.The good point of this smartphone is that, like its big brother, it is installed from Android Lollipop office in version 5.0.2.

Design: a smartphone “symmetrical”

It’s not often that you spoke highly of Alcatel One Touch smartphone in our columns. But for Idol 3, you should make an exception. It is a fine smartphone, lanky and successful design. Its overall design to start is relatively atypical. And because with Idol 3, Alcatel One Touch wanted to make a smartphone “symmetrical”, so that the user can never really perceive a glance which way is up and which is the bottom of the unit.

And the least we can say is that the manufacturer actually managed to achieve this goal. The façade thus consists of a large sheet of glass that covers the screen and the edges of screens.Top and bottom of the smartphone is two rounded outgrowths identical in every respect, the most beautiful effect, which each contain a speaker and a microphone . The idea behind these projections is that it is possible to hold the smartphone in both directions, it will still be usable. The shortcut bar contains indeed a “reversible” icon. When it is activated, regardless of whether you hold the smartphone from the top or from the bottom, the screen is always reverse to suit the user.

Is it really a good idea? I’m not sure. From a design standpoint, it is an undeniable success. If like me, you like the perfectly symmetrical objects, the Idol 3 should please you. It is very beautiful with its fine screens borders, its screen perfectly centered in the middle of the facade and its speakers that exceed elegantly. However if, like me (and like many people did), you can not stand to hold your phone upside down, with physical buttons placed at the bottom, then you will certainly rail against the strange idea of Alcatel One Touch to propose a reversible telephone. During the first week of grip, I could never tell if I wanted my smartphone in the right direction without looking carefully and without pester . A reflex I finally caught after the second week.

Since we are in the small defects, physical buttons are placed too high on the slices . The sleep button is on the left and is unattainable in a single hand, either right hand or left hand.The volume buttons are also located a little too high on the right slice to be achieved easily with the thumb. Finally on these slices, chrome rims are chamfered plastic and do not cut their hands.

The grip of the phone is also very nice. They said he was a little higher, the Idol 3 is an elongated smartphone. It is not wide (75.14 mm) long (152.7 mm) and thin (7.4 mm). Even if it is that of plastic, this is a very stylish smartphone, far example of the massive appearance of the Archos 50 Diamond.

The hull, non-removable, is also plastic. A slightly ribbed material that does not take fingerprints and smooth touch that is pleasant without being truly memorable. At the top left of the device are the camera and an LED flash. You will understand, design level, Idol 3 has really convinced us.

A very nice screen, nearly flawless

The Idol 3 features a full HD (1920 × 1080 pixels), which is still quite rare on smartphones sold less than 250 euros. And it is a very nice screen. It benefits from the OGS technology , which greatly reduces the space between the glass and the touch screen and allows flush icons on the screen. The effect is very successful and gives the phone a very significant aspect of high range.

With 410 cd / m² maximum brightness, the Idol 3 is slightly above average. Its brightness is good without being great. It is in any case more than enough to use the screen without having to push the brightness to maximum and it is possible to read on the outdoor screen and full sun. If the viewing angles are excellent (there is absolutely no leakage of light) and colors particularly true, however it should be noted that red turns orange when the screen is leaning to the right. A detail. Anyway, the screen of the Idol 3 is very good, if not great considering the price of the smartphone.

 

Software: Android Stock, Lollipop and some improvements

The Idol 3 is installed on Android Lollipop in version 5.0.2 . There is also almost no overlay on Android since found the colors and themes of Android basic stock and the application drawer. Alcatel One Touch but could not help but add a few extras here and there. Starting with the shortcut bar that includes three additional shortcuts: reversible mode, to automatically reverse the screen when you hold the smartphone upside down, a way invert the colors (for the visually impaired), and Access Point to of its smartphone wireless modem.

Alcatel One Touch has also added some features in the menu settings. It is found in a few other practical gestures ( double tap on the screen to turn on or off the screen ), the ability to display the percentage of the battery in the taskbar option “Find My Phone” (which leads a link that does not work with Chrome) and some additional trifles. By default, the phone activates the Func option, which is in the Screen Lock menu. On the lock screen are displayed 5 shortcuts that allow the choice to open the calculator, music player, to write a text message, an email, start an audio recording, etc. One option that can disable it in the settings.Last, Alcatel One Touch also thought to add a button to close all applications in use in multitasking . A welcome feature.

The launcher is itself very similar to Android Stock except that it integrates automaticallyOneTouch Stream. A Widget on the left of Swype launcher that one can not disable . It contains some weather information, syncs with Google Calendar and eventually displays “Headlines”, “best sellers” or “Wallpaper”. It’s not ugly, but we would like to hide the worst to the best off. In a future update?

Last of the software aspect, the pre-installed applications. This is the main weakness of the smartphone, there are many, too. Between Gameloft games, a proprietary application store (Apps) duplicate of the Play Store, Deezer, Dropbox, Flipboard, Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp or FaceTune Alcatel One Touch does too much. The good news however, is that it is possible to uninstall the vast majority of pre-installed applications. What falls rather well because, after five or six personal installed applications on the phone, there already were only 5 GB of free storage space on the phone!

 

Performances: Snapdragon 615 without (bad) surprise

The Idol 3 contains the same components as the Archos 50 Diamond, its closest competitor.So we find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615, an eight-core processor, 64-bit, consisting of four Cortex-A53 cores at 1.5 GHz and four Cortex-A53 cores at 1GHz. He is supported by a GPU Adreno 405. This is a couple that we begin to encounter more and more frequently on mid-range smartphones. We compared the benchmark table below for the Archos 50 Diamond (Snapdragon 615), the Acer Liquid Jade S (Meditatek MT6582), the Samsung Galaxy A5 (Snapdragon 410) and finally OnePlus One ( Snapdragon 801), the champion of the value of last year.

Benchmark / Model Alcatel One Touch Idol 3 (5.5 inches) Archos 50 Diamond Acer Liquid Jade S Samsung Galaxy A5 One OnePlus
AnTuTu 5.x 29,323 items 30,023 items 38,410 items 21,300 items 46,200 items
PCMark 3387 Points 3173 Points 3446 Points 3200 Points 3431 Points
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited 7530 Points 7948 Points 9336 Points 4376 Points 18,860 items
GFXBench T-Rex (offscreen / onscreen) 12.9 / 13.7 FPS 15/15 FPS 13/23 FPS 5.3 / 9.5 FPS 28.4 / 28.7 FPS
GFXBench Manhattan (offscreen / onscreen) 5.7 / 6 FPS 5.8 / 5.9 FPS 4.9 / 10 FPS 1.8 / 3.9 FPS 12.3 / 12.2 FPS

Not surprisingly, the scores posted by the Idol 3 and the Archos 50 Diamond are virtually identical, at some points near or FPS. This is quite normal, the two smartphones share the same processor and the same screen resolution. The point spread or FPS (Idol 3 is slightly worse than the Archos 50 Diamond) can certainly be explained by the different OS and software layer, which varies from one device to another. Idol 3 performance is also down against the Liquid Jade S, proposed the same price. We quickly pass on the comparison with the Galaxy A5, offered almost 300 euros and carrying a entry level CPU and OnePlus One, which features high-end processor 2014 and whose Snapdragon 615 is still very far .

In everyday life,  we must admit that the power offered by the Snapdragon 615 is quite sufficient . The transition from one application to another is carried out smoothly and the phone just enough heat as long as you do not start after 5 benchmarks. An ample processor to run half a dozen of applications without having to worry about whether they run in the background or not and rotates smoothly 95% of the Play Store games without rowing. It repeats for the umpteenth time, the Snapdragon 615 has done its job SoC midrange. A very appropriate choice for a phone sold less than 250 euros.

Communication, GPS and speakers

It has not yet specified in this test, but the Idol 3 is a smartphone 4G (category 4) that supports all 4G frequency bands French. After two good weeks of use, I can also confirm that I have never met any problems with grip on the Orange network (Sosh). During calls the sound is also very clear, either for the recipient or to the caller. Alcatel One Touch has also added an option in the settings, say Headset mode, which allows to sound the phone ring only in the headset when it is connected. Finally, and as we said a little earlier in this test, the Idol 3 comprises two microphones located at the top and bottom of the device, so you can pick up and talk without having to worry about the direction of the phone.

It is also necessary to mention the two front speakers and stereo from the phone. There are two JBL speakers that the manufacturer specifically put forward during the first presentations of his phone. These speakers are of excellent quality. The sound is clear, really powerful and can watch a video to a distance without having to listen. In terms of power, one can easily compare the speakers of the Idol 3 with speakers BoomSound the HTC One (M9), which more or less the same power. The point of feeling the Idol 3 our hands tremble when the sound is maximum. We have no tool in drafting FrAndroid to test the most scientifically possible quality speakers of both devices. What we see is that the sound of the Idol 3 is pushed to the maximum wide sizzles and does not, according to our ears, widely rival the clarity of its speakers HTC One M9 . A great achievement on the part of Alcatel One Touch.

It ends with GPS, which has never a problem for us. GPS Data confirmed our good impressions putting only 10 seconds to secure the position of the phone in airplane mode. No surprise.

 

A capricious camera

The Idol 3 features a 13 MP camera sensor on the back and a sensor 8 MP on its facade. A word first on the software side. It’s not the camera Stock Android which is installed by default but an application designed for Alcatel One Touch. It is relatively complete. There is a HDR mode, panoramic mode, a manual mode, all filters and even the ability to make timelapses.

At the photos themselves, I am rather cautious. Succeeding with a good photo demand Idol 3 indeed to gather the ideal conditions : the environment must have enough light but not too much, the sun should be positioned conveniently not to burn the photo and the scene should not move too much so that the sensor can correctly do the development. If all these conditions are met, then the Idol 3 is doing rather well and can be made pretty things. The pictures are clear, detailed and the colors are very honest. Just on the other hand one of these conditions less favorable and rendering is much more random shots: burnt sky, blurred, faded colors and too strong contrasts await you. The HDR mode also seems not erase these defects. On some pictures I took with this mode, I often struggled to see the difference with the clichés in automatic mode. A small disappointment so.

Autonomy

The Idol 3 loads a non-removable battery 2910 mAh capacity within the average for smartphones of 5.5 inches. In comparison the Archos 50 Diamond has a battery of 2700 mAh (but with a 5-inch screen) and OnePlus One embeds a 3000 mAh battery (with a 5.5-inch screen). The Idol 3 includes however any battery saver software.

This battery appears to barely satisfactory daily. The smartphone is able to hold a full day with a full charge, or a little more if we do not draw too much on it, but little else. To use a classical (social networks, some video, Internet browser and some SMS / calls) hold a day without problems, which places it in the middle of current smartphones. It’s not fancy but it’s not bad either.

We conducted our two classic tests of autonomy. The first is to launch a YouTube HD video for an hour with her the legal maximum and with the screen brightness set to 200 cd / m². In an hour the phone has lost 18% of battery. The average is usually more around 14-15%.

Our opinion

Quite simply, the Idol 3 is probably the best value we could find in mid-year 2015. Among its sleek design, its high-quality screen, the software part neat and top -parleurs very powerful, it is really hard to beat, especially less than 250 euros. Provided to appraise major phones (remember that this is a 5.5-inch smartphone), it is the most balanced smartphone of the moment. Only weaknesses: his camera sorely lacking flexibility and autonomy is just average. We’ve seen much worse. What is it facing an Archos 50 Diamond or Acer Liquid Jade S the characteristics and prices more or less similar? Our preference is definitely the unit to Alcatel One Touch, which signs its best phone. Not only should not be out of stock right out (unlike the Diamond 50), but it also has a very sleek design that, to our taste, the place well above the apparatus Archos. Its almost perfect screen is also much higher than Jade S. No, really, hard to find better now less than 250 euros. At least if one does not wish to pass the 720p.

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