Alcatel, just like every manufacturer that wants to stay relevant nowadays, is doubling down on VR. To that end they’ve officially released the IDOL 4S, their newest high-end device that comes with a display that’s specifically made for enjoying VR content. The phone also comes bundled with a VR headset that doubles as the phone’s box when not in use. Before we begin the unboxing, let’s take a look at the specs:
Alcatel Idol 4S specs
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 octa-core processor
- 3GB of RAM
- 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display
- 32GB of expandable storage
- 16-megapixel rear camera with F/2.0 aperture, PDAF, dual LED flash
- 8-megapixel rear camera
- Dual SIM
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- 3000mAh battery
Packaging and contents
The phone ships in Alcatel’s typical packaging, with the device and the VR headset prominently displayed on the front. Once you open the box, you’ll see the large, VR headset and not much else.
That’s because the VR headset serves as the phone’s packaging.
The actual device is already in the visor of the headset when you take it out, with the rest of the accessories in the bottom of the headset.
Aside from that freebie headset, you’re also getting premium headphones from JBL. The phone comes with a USB charger, cable, SIM ejector and the requisite user manual as well.
Initial Impressions: nice build, clean design
The first time you pick up the IDOL 4S, you’ll notice just how premium it feels. At 6.9mm, it’s quite thin, an impression that’s further enhanced by how the glass tapers to the side. Much like most high-end devices nowadays, the IDOL 4S uses a mix of metal and glass in its construction.
One of the most interesting design choices for the IDOL 4S is the metal frame, specifically on the top and bottom of the device. If you look closely you’ll see that it sports speaker grilles on both the front and back, which pumps sound to both sides of the phone. The result is surprisingly loud and crisp audio no matter what the orientation of the device is. Pretty clever engineering, if you ask us.
As far physical keys go, the IDOL 4S has the volume rocker on the top right, with the power button on the top left side, beside the port for the SIM tray.
That big button on the right side of the phone that we earlier mistook for the actual power button is the Boom key, a customizable quick launch key that changes function depending on the condition of the phone. For example, pressing the key twice with the screen off takes a series of photos with the camera, pressing it once in the same condition quickly launches the camera app, and so on.
We’re not a fan of the key setup of the IDOL 4S. You’ll constantly make the mistake of trying to unlock the phone via the Boom key once you start using it, and when you do remember to unlock it via the power button on the side, you’ll be annoyed at how akward it is to reach for.
Once you flip the phone over you’ll see the prominent camera bump on the back that houses the 16-megapixel rear camera with F/2.0 aperture, PDAF and dual LED flash. Overall the rear of the phone gives you a very Galaxy S7-ish vibe, which isn’t helped by the very familiar looking camera bump.
The 5.5-inch display of the IDOL 4S is of the AMOLED variety, and has a QHD resolution. It’s obvious that Alcatel has consciously made the decision to make the IDOL 4S’ display to be as good as possible for the included VR headset, since QHD displays are the current gold standard for mobile VR headsets nowadays. Yes, you can make do with lower resolution displays, but they’ll never be as crisp or as clear as the ones used by QHD panels.
Powering the entire thing is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 652 octa-core processor, paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of expandable storage. It’s not flagship specs, but from what we can see the phone is relatively fast and can handle the increased load from the QHD display without any issues. The phone packs Android Marshmallow with a funky UI overlay, but it’s not as bad as some of the phones we’ve seen so far.
And that’s it for this unboxing and hands-on. Alcatel has not provided pricing for the IDOL 4S as of yet, but you can expect this to retail below 30K.