Alcatel OneTouch Idol 2 Mini S – the mid-range mobile built to impress

idol2-mini-s-resized

If you don’t want to tie yourself down to a pricey monthly contract and still want a current generation smartphone, your best bet may be to look outside the big brands at some of the capable alternatives doing the rounds. One of these is Alcatel Onetouch, who has been slowly but surely increasing its range of devices to the point where they’re starting to get a little bit more recognition in the mainstream market. Its OneTouch Idol 2 Mini S was announced at Mobile World Congress 2014 and is a good example of exactly why – this doesn’t sound like a cheap device, with a brushed metallic finish, diamond cut and a decent amount of power under the hood for a mid range device.

It offers a 4.5” (540×960) IPS display at 245ppi, 1.2GHz quad-core processor and 4GB of internal memory expandable via microSD. An 8MB camera on the back and 2MP on the front should be good enough for less serious photographers, it comes with NFC so you can get involved with rapidly expanding contactless payments, there’s a 4G version for speedy internet and Android 4.4 is in the works.

For what’s effectively priced as a “budget” smartphone there seems to be some potential here – let’s see if it’s been realised.

ExpertReviews is generally pleased with its first impression in a hands-on test, though does point out that the word “finish” is key when describing the metallic construction. Though its bigger brother does indeed have a metal back plate, the Mini S is actually made from plastic, and just brushed to look like a slightly more premium design. It also points out that the display resolution may be a sticking point for those used to HD quality:

“This is a noticeable step down from 720p, as even with a reduction in screen size pixel density still drops to 244PPI. It’s noticeable when held next to an HD display, and even in isolation text and images look a little fuzzy”.

Thankfully it’s not a poor performance per se, with “excellent” brightness and viewing angles thanks to the IPS panel.

Wovow is pretty impressed with what’s on offer at the price, and points out that the Alcatel Onetouch costs around the same as budget phones from Chinese manufacturers but with a far nicer design and better performance. It gave the battery a bit of a workout and noted around two full days from typical varied use, which isn’t too bad, and it also charges pretty quickly in around two hours.

PhoneArena is a big fan of the design, pointing out that the “Idol 2 mini is a very, very light handset, which is pretty cool – you don’t get that kind of feather-lightness in a lot smartphones out there” , and how “the clean, logo-less design of the front makes the phones look quite universal and stylish.”

It also comments on the screen resolution and concludes that despite it being fairly low, really isn’t too bad.

“On top of that, we have the Dragontrail glass, which makes the display sturdier, and there’s also an oleophobic coating to quickly get rid of those stains on the display.”

Alcatel Onetouch has added some little customisations of its own by the sound of it – all the core applications and visuals, apparently, which delivers a rather different Android experience. It also offers features such as One Finger Zoom – a double-tap and hold that lets you zoom with one hand. There are no reports on the camera yet, but it does point that you can record 1080p video, which is an impressive feat at this price point.

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PhoneArena concludes by giving some indication as to why Alcatel Onetouch is starting to build a bit of a following, and attracting more attention at events. “Alcatel Onetouch is bringing some very, very hot devices to MWC. These smartphones aren’t particularly impressive in terms of specs or technology, but they just feel so refined.” Perhaps this is the secret to releasing a low to mid-range device – most people probably wouldn’t notice if a smartphone had a slightly slower processor or a slightly lower resolution camera, but who doesn’t notice a tidy design?

Carphone Warehouse is currently offering the OneTouch Idol 2 Mini S without an upfront cost from just £12 per month.

ALCATEL launch “super-colourful affordable LTE” POP S3 smartphone

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In the words of Alcatel – “Make it faster keep it POP”. The POP S3 is the latest 4G phone from Alcatel trying to compete with the iPhone 5c and its colourful design. Weighing only 130g it is pretty light, users can also personalise their smartphone with the colourful battery covers. They are described as tough  and thick enough to not feel too cheap – you get three of them to start with.

Running on Android 4.3 the POP S3 has features such as One Finger Zoom which provides easy navigation while browsing. You can also share any content from your smartphone through Miracast Wi-Fi Display and it has an expandable memory good for those who like to take pictures and store everything on the phone.

The full screen camera with its video stabilisation allows you to record Full HD to a good level of sharpness. The screen has been a bit of a talking point for its poor quality, the of an IPS screen would have been preferable, but on the flip side the POP S3 may be one of the cheapest 4G phones out there.

The phone's FlipCover
The phone’s FlipCover

Describing the feel of the POP S3, Andrew Williams from Trusted Reviews said it was:

A bit like a low-rent take on the iPhone 5C. The plastic feels a bit cheaper and front-on the S3 looks like a conventional low-cost Android, but it still looks a fair bit better than many of the affordable Huawei budget phones we’ve reviewed over the past year

Another positive from the same reviewer was that the “POP S3 features a front notification LED light and an ambient light sensor despite the price.”

Meanwhile over at CNET they commented that the POP S3’s 800×480 pixel (WVGA) display was “fine, but you will find fonts and icons not as sharp. In relation to the camera, the reviewer fairly pointed out that while the phone packs a 5-megapixel camera:

“Don’t expect to take great pictures with it. It should be adequate for shooting in bright light, but I doubt it’d be your go-to camera for important shots.”

The POP S3 is available from EE stores nationwide.  For more information regarding ALCATEL ONETOUCH please visit www.facebook.com/alcatelonetouchuk.

Alcatel OT-810: A cute featurephone for the budget conscious

In case you were wondering I’m not a fashion-obsessed teenage girl – or any kind of teenage girl really. But I couldn’t help but emit a “kawaiii” (an adjective routinely emitted by Japanese girls when adorable or cute things swing into their line of sight) on seeing the Alcatel OT-810 (despite its distinctively un-kawaii name).

One-Touch-810

Why? Well it’s just so gosh-darn cute, but that aside the palm shaped clamshell phone has a lot to say for itself. The outside has an LED matrix that throws up a number of patters – like twinkly stars or bunny rabbits. It’s also very shiny so you can check yourself, well in advance of wreaking yourself. For the more practically minded (and seriously what are you doing looking at this phone) there is a full QWERTY keyboard, which is handy for avid texting teens.

The OT-810 also has a range of modern connectivity options. You can SMS obviously but you can also IM, Tweet or Facebook with relative ease. Even better you can access most webmail accounts and apparently it supports push mail so you won’t have to obsessively check it every 5 minutes (although I check my push-mail enabled iPhone almost constantly anyway). It also packs and FM radio and Opera mini.

There’s a micro-SD slot so you can expand storage up to 16GB. There’s also a neat little USB feature that allows you to stream video from the 2.0 megapixel camera so you can clip it onto the edge of a PC monitor and have a make-shift web cam.

Whilst this isn’t the latest and greatest in mobile phone technology, it’s a to know that there’s a lot out there for anyone shopping on a budget.

Out at the start of November from Carphone Warehouse for £30. If you buy one in store you will get a free gift voucher to redeem a Barry M lipgloss. How can you say no to that?

The Royal Wedding Phone: Grossly patriotic? Or fun and affordable?

For some, the only vague spark of interest caused by ‘Wills and Kate’s’ wedding this month, is the fact the date of the wedding has been made into a public holiday. Whilst for others the excitement over the ‘Royal Wedding’ is so intense, that joining in the Will and Kate Wedding Walk in London is imperative, likewise so is purchasing all memorabilia associated with the happy couple. If you are of the latter tendency, you will be excited to learn about The Carphone Warehouse’s special edition Royal Wedding Mobile Phone.

Royal-Wedding-Phone

This patriotic phone comes, albeit foully, wrapped inside Union Jack casing with the couple’s initial and date of the wedding inscribed on the reverse, and, even more hideously, features a William and Kate customised wall paper and a special ‘Wedding March’ ringtone. Although mock as we may, this special edition phone is actually quite a bargain. For just £14.95 royalists will own a slim – although we don’t know whether anything so grossly patriotic could be considered as stylish – Alcatel One Touch model, Pay As You Go mobile.

In spite of weighing just 68g, the Royal Wedding Phone boasts impressive battery life, which provides up to 4.5 hours of talk time and up to 13 days standby time. Although its extensive battery life is not the phone’s only notable attribute, as it also possesses a significant 1.5 inch colour screen, an FM radio, a calculator, a clock with an alarm and there are also 64 polyphonic ringtones available for when the ‘Royal March’ ringtone finally makes you feel like hurling the phone out of the window!

The only thing that is missing on the Royal Wedding Phone is a camera so that devout royalists can take pictures of the highly anticipated ceremony and celebrations. Although for just £14.95 what do you expect? And perhaps I am being a little miserable and cynical, as the Royal Wedding phone could be described as being a fun and affordable phone, which as Mark Eastham, Commercial Director for the Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy said about the limited edition mobile, “really taps into the national spirit over the coming months.”

You have got to admit that the nation really has got ‘Royal Wedding’ fever, and consequently The Carphone Warhouse, Best Buy and Alcatel One are likely to be onto a winner with the Royal Wedding phone.