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Hands-on review: MWC 2015: Alcatel Idol 3

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Alcatel Idol 3

There’s really no wrong way to hold the Alcatel Idol 3, I found out at MWC 2015. The defining feature of this Android smartphone is two microphones on opposite ends, one at the top and another at the bottom.

Dual microphones mean that the phone can be held “upside down,” which is perfect whenever you’re in a scramble to pick up a call from your pocket or purse.

It’s 100% reversible, with the interface always righting itself too. The Idol 3 essentially puts an end to you awkwardly talking into the speaker and foolishly listening from the microphone.

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Alcatel Idol 3

Display and specs

The rest of the Alcatel Idol 3 is built to resemble a near-premium smartphone while being priced for the budget category.

It has two display sizes, 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, and both are HD. The distinction is that the smaller version is 720p with a max of 600 lumens and the larger screen size is 1080p with a max of 650 lumens for increased outdoor readability.

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Alcatel Idol 3

Both flavors come with Android 5.0 Lollipop and the always-convenient double tap the screen to wake feature. It’s kind of funny to think that users of top-tier Androids are still waiting for this Android update, while a budget phone like this sneaks out with it from the start.

The internal specs are divided in a similar fashion. There’s a quad-core CPU in the 4.7 inch model and an octa-core processor in the 5.5-inch version. Both chips are from Qualcomm and both support 4G LTE.

Speakers and music app

Going along with the dual microphones and taking a cue from HTC One M9‘s BoomSound speakers, Idol 3 boasts two front-firing stereo speakers with JBL-certified audio.

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Alcatel Idol 3

To test out these “3D” speakers and my own DJ skillz (spelled with a Z, of course), I loaded up Alcatel’s Onetouch Mix, a music app for mixing tracks.

I’m usually skeptical of music apps made by phone manufacturers, but this one stood out with the ability to load two tracks at once.

The apps is meant to for straightforward DJing, but I was able to add my own sound in portrait or a slightly more advanced landscape mode. The resulting beats can even be recorded.

Camera and price

Alcatel Idol 3 has a 13MP rear camera with a Sony sensor and Fotonation-developed “Fast Face Focus” for quick face detection.

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Alcatel Idol 3

This feature enables the camera to detect faces in 0.26 seconds. We’ll have to review this in full in the future, but that’s pretty speedy on paper.

Idol 3’s symmetrical design doesn’t cover up the fact that this is still a brushed-metal-looking phone with a plastic build.

But that’s the main reason it costs a fraction of other Android phones. Unlocked, the price is set at €279 for the 5.5-inch version and €199 for the 4.7-inch model with a global rollout expected in April. More “aggressive” prices for the US and UK are to come, according to Alcatel.

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Alcatel Idol 3

Early verdict

Alcatel Idol 3 solves an age-old smartphone flaw that I’ve experienced with candy-bar-style phones. There are few ways to say “this side up” like you see on shipping containers.

Instead of moving away from a symmetrical like the Sharp Aquos Crystal does, Alcatel added dual microphones, an idea that strikes that screams “Why didn’t they think of that before?”

This grand idea is coupled with admirable specs, especially for the price. Its two display sizes and Android 5.0 Lollipop make it a phone to keep an eye on if you’re on a budget.

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