Alcatel is not an unknown entity in the Indian smartphone space but it is yet to register a strong presence in the Indian market. The company in the past have launched a few smartphones in India, but none of them made a long-lasting impact. But with the recent launch of its flagship-level device, the Idol 4, the company is optimistic to make a strong comeback. Priced at Rs 16,999, the smartphone does offer some interesting features, but will it be able to give the much-needed push to the company? We got the chance to use the device, during the launch event and here’s our initial impression of the device.
The BlackBerry angle
Alcatel Idol 4 has been launched in India today, but it has been present in the market in a different avatar. Confused? Well, the BlackBerry DTEK50, which was launched in November this year in India, is basically the Idol 4. This is because BlackBerry latest devices are made by TCL (Alcatel parent company). Both the smartphones looks identicalâ€” you got the same specs, design, same operating system, same JBL stereo speakers and same Alcatel’s aspirational “Boom Key”. The only difference between the two is the textured plastic finish at the rear of the BlackBerry DTEK50 as opposed to the glass one used in Alcatel Idol 4.
Design and Display
First of all the packaging of Alcatel Idol 4 is itself a unique one. The white plastic box, when opened up, turns out to be a VR headset (surprise! You cannot throw the box now) with all the accessories, including JBL earphones, placed pretty neatly in the same packaging.
As far as the device is concerned one will get to see the metal frames slightly chamfered around the edges with glass on both sides. And yes Idol 4 is quite sleek with just being 7.1mm thick and is certainly lightweight with weighing just 135 grammes.
The smartphone looks premium and gives a nice feel when you hold it. At the front, you see a 5.2-inch screen with the secondary camera being on top of it coupled with front-facing stereo speakers at the top and base. Interestingly, there is also a set of speakers at the rear as well. On the right you will find the ‘Boom Key’ ( you might mistake it to be the power button) coupled with the volume rocker, the left houses the power on/off button. At the top, there is an audio jack and a microphone, while at the base, there is a microUSB port coupled with a microphone. At the rear, you will see the primary camera with dual-tone LED flash. Overall, for our initial impression, the device does come with some stylish design language.
On the display front, the device comes with a 5.2-inch Full HD display. During our initial testing we found out that the display was a bit reflective in nature, but it did have some good colour reproduction.
Hardware and Camera
The Alcatel Idol 4 is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor. The device is backed by a 3GB RAM and 16GB of internal storage, which can be further expanded up to 512GB via microSD card. As of now, we will hold on our view about the performance of the device as we have not reviewed it.
However, the Boom Key, a physical button on the device which can perform multiple functions, used in the Idol 4 does come with some interesting features like you can take a burst shot in camera by long pressing, create a 3D-like effect, what company’s call Parallax UI effect, that turns your home screen with live weather display and more.
On the camera front, the device comes with a 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-tone LED flash, dual-tone LED Flash, f/2.0 aperture, PDAF and EIS. For the front, the device comes with an 8-megapixel camera. The company boasts that camera comes with fast auto-focus and it can lock focus in just 0.3 seconds. It would be interesting to see how the camera performs, but in our brief testing, we found that the camera was quick to focus and it took some good macro shots as well.
On the software front, the device runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The company has kept the user interface close to stock and has added an interesting feature known as reversible UI through which interface changes according to the orientation you are using. Also, stereo sound is always on the correct side, even when the phone is flipped. Interesting, indeed. Other than this, the smartphone is powered by a 2610mAh battery with Quick Charge support. On the connectivity front, the smartphone offers Dual SIM, 4G/LTE, WiFi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), WiFi Direct, micro-USB port, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC and GPS/A-GPS.
This is where it gets interesting. Alcatel is banking heavily on the sound department of the Idol 4. The smartphone comes with dual stereo speakers which are powered by Waves MaxxAudio technology, that work in any orientation. While it will be interesting to see the performance of the speakers during our testing period, but what attracted us was the in-built music app. The app switches the orientation to landscape and you get the Virtual DJ-like turntable and you can play tracks simultaneously. And yes you can show your artistic skills and create your own music.