First Impressions: Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 5.5″
Since my first gen Moto G LTE was slowly dying with noticeable faster battery drainage and will no longer have android updates, it was time for me to upgrade.
I thought about going with the HTC One m8 because it had good enough battery life, snappy performance, and the excellent boomsound dual front facing speakers, however HTC’s sense skin along with random bloatware was a big turn off for me. After spending a lot of time researching what I needed in a smartphone, I came across the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3. I’ve never heard of the company before so I watched and read reviews of the phone. Most of them were very favorable as one of the best ranked budget phone. This thing carried an octa-core snapdragon 615 processor, 5.5 inch display with enhanced colors on an IPS LCD screen, 2910 mah battery (YES!!!), dual front facing speakers with JBL amps (HELL YA), expandable storage (THANK YOU), 2 gigs of RAM, 1080p res (GOOD CHOICE!), and only $250. This sounds damn good on paper.
When I got the device, I was amazed how light it was for an entry level phablet. The plastic build was decent enough durability where it didn’t feel cheap. The brushed feel on the back helped with the grip. As others have stated, the power and volume rocker placements are way too high up making it awkward for the single hand to reach it. I would prefer separate volume buttons like the recent iphones rather than a rocker due to the size of the phone. At times, I couldn’t tell if I was pressing volume down or up.
I was so glad this phone wasn’t in the band wagon of quad HD displays because let’s face it, why the hell would you want such a high res on a small ass screen? It sucks up more processing power and battery. I honestly can’t tell the different between quad HD and 1080p. Idol 3’s screen looks fantastic! Colors look really good for an IPS LCD and it can VERY bright.
The sound coming out of the dual front facing speakers is absolutely incredible! This can give HTC One’s boomsound speakers a run for its money. It’s even better than most laptop speakers out there. This is the one gimmick I want to see implemented on all phones. It makes so much sense to have front facing speakers rather than bottom or back placed ones. This is a way to go instead of buying a bluetooth speaker. Call quality seemed decent enough, however it seems that my peers had a small issue of hearing me. It might be due to the bottom facing mic and the phone size.
Battery life was amazing. From my typical work day with moderate usage, I went from full charge to 80% remaining by the time I got back home in the evening.
Software wise, this is where things became questionable. Although this is mostly a stock android lollipop, it’s still skinned. While it does have some bloatware, thankfully they can be uninstalled no problem. The most offensive being the AVG anti-virus. Performance was snappy enough for casual usage. I didn’t mind a one second lag to opening up apps or switching between them, but it became noticeable. Having an 8-core processor is a perfect example of having more cores doesn’t mean more speed. The best thing about this skinned version is the clear all option on the stack overflow (square button on the right). It boggles my mind why stock android doesn’t have that feature, oh well. Here’s the biggest issue with the phone that led me to return it. During audio playback, sound sometimes skips or glitches every couple minutes whether if it was on speakers or headphones. This was seriously annoying when listening to music. When I googled the problem, other users were having the same issue. I reseted my phone to factory settings, but that didn’t fix it. The problem wasn’t the hardware, it was software as I tested it after rebooting the phone, which came out fine but it later bugs out. Customer service lacked care when addressed the problem to them. Also, it seems the phone won’t let me permanently stick with the settings I choose in the developer’s options. I really dislike animations whenever I open or close apps because I want the instantaneous, no bullshit midway from point A to B. Every time I choose “no animation”, it goes back to default settings after a few seconds of exiting the settings. The phone runs android lollipop version 5.0 which has memory leak issues. When I heard the company was gonna skip 5.1 update and head straight to android M within the next year, that forced my decision to return it.
The biggest problem with android phones still stands today. Too many manufacturers, too many different phones, and lack of updates. Unless if your motorola or google, pure stock android is a far cry. Alcatel is one of those unknown companies that won’t rollout those updates on a consistent basis. I appreciate what the company is doing by choosing good enough specs that’s consumer focused, however software optimization really matters.
Now all these issues I addressed here shouldn’t be a concern to many of the mainstream consumer, I’m just a very demanding person. If you’re looking for a reasonable budget priced phone with midrange specs, I would recommend it. Just beware, it uses dragontrail glass on the display which is apparently less scratch resistant than gorilla glass. So definitely find a tempered screen protector matching the phone.