International mobile manufacturer Alcatel a couple of months ago unveiled the Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra, the world's slimmest smartphone. It's sexy, it's powerful, and it's a sight to behold. It has most of the stuff we look for in a smartphone, and it's a joy to use. No wonder the company—albeit being lowkey for quite a period of time—managed to reach and celebrate 20 years in the industry.
I used the Idol Ultra—the Iron Man 3 smartphone—for a couple of weeks, and it's truly a performer. Read the Alcatel One Touch Idol Review below to learn more.
The Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra hands down is one of the most gorgeous Androids out there. It's an ultra-lightweight unibody device and it clocks in at a very slim 6.45mm thickness profile, making it very manageable on the hands and in the pockets.
You can find in the front the nice-looking 4.65-inch AMOLED display, three soft-touch buttons, the 1.3-megapixel front camera, a couple of sensors, and a so far unique earpiece grill. (because most have looked like Samsung's).
The back of device is also very gorgeous. It features a matte-textured shell, an 8-megapixel camera with flash, a very simple yet elegant loudspeaker grill, and a silver One Touch logo dead center. I don't know how Alcatel pulled off this look (since you can find these design cues on locally sold devices), but it sure the heck looks awesome on whatever angle you look at it.
The surrounding sides also received the same attention in detail. Instead of leaving the charging/microUSB port open (located at the top right side of the device), Alcatel installed a removable flap. It not only is functional (it protects the terminal from dust and the like), it also adds to the premium feel of the device. The same can be said with the micro-SIM slot. The sleep/wake and volume buttons—located top-left and left respectively) come in chrome, a great complement to the matte black figure of the device.
There is no 3.5mm audio jack to be found anywhere in the device, which is unfortunate (at least for me personally since I love listening to music).
Holding the Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra, as slim as it is, is like holding tangible happiness. I can comfortably wrap my hand around it without pressing too much pressure on my palm, its grip is solid even at landscape use, and it doesn't fingerprint-smudge as much as other glossy-reared devices.
If I can change one thing about the design: I'd push the protruding camera to level with the device. That said, the Idol Ultra is a gem in smartphone design.
The Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra sports a fabulous 4.65-inch HD AMOLED display armored by Dragon Trail Glass with oleophobic coating. It comes in 1280 x 720 resolution, ~316 ppi, and a mind-boggling 10-point multi-touch feature (how would you use all those ten points anyway?).
The display's color tones are rich and blend well. Pixels are history thanks to the already mentioned resolution and pixel density. Viewing angles all around are also A-OK, even at very steep angles. The only issue I have are the lack of brightness of the display and the seemingly yellowish hue it has on whites and lighter colors.
The Idol Ultra runs on 4.1.1 Jelly Bean and sports a slightly skinned UI, albeit retaining the original elements of the former.
Display is fine under the sun.
The Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra runs on a dual-core 1.2 GHz Mediatek MT6577 Cortex-A9 processor, a PowerVR SXG531T GPU, and 1GB RAM. You could say it's underpowered for a flagship, but lesser cores doesn't always equate to lesser experience. Check out the benchmarks below.
The Idol Ultra scores a fine 3225 points on Quadrant Standard, half a grand higher than most contemporary dual-cores. Then again, there should be no surprise.
AnTuTu gives the device a 6532, again higher than contemporary dual-cores, which is nice because it just goes to show that there's really quality hardware and software-wise.
Other benchmarks seem to be in agreement. See below:
Seeing that the Idol Ultra's benchmarks are higher than average, there's really no problem in real world usage. Home to drawer transitions are instantaneous, page swipes are great, summoning up running tasks are a check, and so are everything that you would routinely do on a smartphone.
The Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra comes with a fixed 16GB storage and is not microSD expandable. A minor annoyance to some, especially to those who use their smartphones as an extra movie repository.
Audio and Video
Viewing videos at the Idol Ultra's HD AMOLED display was a wonderful experience. There's no pixelation, no ghosting, no stuttering whatsoever. Nothing more to be discussed here since everything I was expecting was met.
The loudspeaker meanwhile is okay at best. The mids are present, the lows are acceptable, but highs from some music tracks sound like drums on crackling static. To its credit though, the sound it emits are loud and powerful.
The stock headphones* are another story. It's looks wonderful, performs wonderfully, and can probably sell as an entry-level standalone for P799. Definitely one of the better throw-in headphones out there, albeit the flimsy looks. Alcatel did their homework on this department and I applaud them for this.
The earpiece emits a crisp and clear sound. Great for calls.
*The package comes with stock headphones and a 3.5mm to microUSB adapter.
There's no other way to put the Idol Ultra's gaming capabilities but to say it straight as it is: It performs. 3D-heavy games such as Dead Trigger, Heroes of Order and Chaos, Shadowguns: Deadzone, and CSR Racing run gracefully on the device (as I mentioned above, lesser cores don't equate to lesser experiece).
The Idol Ultra warms up quickly on gaming but on tolerable levels.
The Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra sports an 8-megapixel camera with autofocus and flash. It also packs in some neat features such as 360 mode, Panoramic, auto-fixes, face detection, and smile detection.
Sample shots below:
The photos coming out of the Idol Ultra are detailed though the white and bluish hues seem very observable. Images captured indoors have a lot of noise, even without zooming in.
Users can snap photos using the display or the volume rocker.
Being a unibody device, the Idol Ultra's battery is stuck in there. Its rating is at 1800mAh, which means it should give a fair experience, and fair it is. It gave me approximately 10 1/2 hours on max brightness, a combination of 3G/WiFi, and bouts of gaming.
Charging time is approximately 2 hours.
The Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra adds value to user experience with its built-in apps. There's a barcode scanner, a LED torch app, the One Touch Cloud Backup app, a movie studio app, the One Touch Radio, a To Do app, an Office Suite app, and a location history mapper.
The Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra is an elegant piece of art, sitting comfortable at the top of the smartphone world for the title of world's slimmest. It's great to use, it's nice to hold, and carries all the premium elements you'd want in a mobile device.
Considering its shortcomings (i.e. not quad-core, unfortunate loudspeaker quality, lack of display brightness, lack of microSD option), it doesn't offset the fact that it is worth every penny and could possibly be your partner for a foreseeable period of time. Plus, it even appeared in Iron Man 3.
Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra Specifications
OS: Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean
Processor: 1.2GHz dual-core MediaTek MT6577+ processor, PowerVR SXG531T GPU
Memory: 1GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, no microSD option
Display: 4.65-inch HD AMOLED display, 1280x720 resolution, ~316ppi, Dragon Trail glass with oleophobic coating
Camera: 8-megapixel rear camera with AF and flash, 1.3-megapixel front camera
Connectivity: microUSB, Mutimedia Player / FM radio with RDS, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Accelerometer, proximity, compass, Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP, GPS with A-GPS support
Battery: 1800mAh non-removable Li-ion battery
Dimensions: 134.4 x 68.5 x 6.5mm, 115g
Colors: Black, Red, Yellow, Green and Turquoise
Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra Availability and Price in the Philippines
The Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra is already available on most parts of the nation and has a price tag of P14,990 (official SRP).