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Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 review: Is it better than the Asus Zenfone 2?

The Idol 3 is the most advanced Alcatel OneTouch phone yet, but is it worth the £200 price tag?

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Alcatel OneTouch is slowly building up a reputation as a solid, reliable low-end phone manufacturer. Ranges such as the Pixi and Idol are unspectacular but solidly built and not that pricey. However, the Idol 3 seems to have broken the mould somewhat, breaking through the £200 barrier and firmly into mid-range territory where it comes up against the likes of the ZTE Blade S6 and the Asus Zenfone 2. This is exulted company indeed so Alcatel would have to pull out all the stops to compete.

Alcatel OneTouch has brought out two versions, one with a 4.7-inch screen and the other with a 5.5-inch screen. We tested the 4.7-inch version, which has slightly inferior specs to its bigger brother in all areas apart from the rear-facing camera.

However, the spec sheet reads pretty well. The 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor is gutsy and runs everything in double quick time. We never felt we were hanging around for anything, whether games or web pages. We ran a handful of common apps at the same time and didn’t notice any slowdown, so that’s a very big tick for the Idol 3. The screen is an impressive 312ppi and it felt crisp and clear when watching videos, pictures or browsing the web.

The cameras are both absolute joys. With 13MP on the rear and 5MP on the front, you can take excellent pictures in an instant as the auto focus is extremely responsive. It even took decent low light photos and comes with stock Android features such as Beauty Face and Panorama mode. However, you can’t take too many because the storage is fairly paltry at just 8GB, halved to 4GB once all the pre-loaded apps are taken into consideration. Although it can be boosted with an SD card, for the price Alcatel is charging, you’d expect the inbuilt storage to be at least double that. The pre-loaded apps, beyond the standard Google suite, are good ones, such as Shazam, Deezer and Evernote, so Alacatel has clearly thought about what it’s added in. However, we aren’t fans of the custom skin over the top of Android Lollipop, which has replaced Google Now with Alcatel’s own OneTouch Stream, a service that tells you the weather, humidity, top news and featured apps. It’s not badly designed but doesn’t feel anywhere near as personal as Google Now and we wish it had just stuck with the superior stock Android Lollipop. You can get a range of wallpapers from the home screen, however.

This is a pretty good phone and is enjoyable to use, but for the price Alcatel is charging you’d be much better served paying a little extra for the 5.5 inch or getting the wonderful Asus ZenFone instead.

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