Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/18/2014 4:39:10 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
The best looking model in its class |
One touch zoom is great for browsing and snapping |
Low internal storage |
Lack of camera modes |
More expensive than similar spec rivals
By Jack Courtez
With a price tag of under £200 (Dec 2014), 1GB RAM and a Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor, its stats sheet reads like a by-the-books mid-range device. Where it differs is in its appearance. With a slim metal effect frame, weighty feel and a vivid 294 PPI display, the Alcatel One Touch Idol 2s’s strongest point is a deceptively premium aesthetic.
For those considering purchasing the device, the decision to make is how to balance style with substance.
Despite being both bigger and lighter than its closest rival – the Moto G 4G, shaving 4mm in thickness makes Alcatel’s offering feel both sleeker and sturdier. Aiding its premium feel is the convincing polished metal effect plastic band which borders the phone, gently sloping at the bottom.
It’s paper-like textured poly carbonate back is both ergonomic and well contrasted by the argentate lettering. While scratches seem to fade quickly into the matte effect, the material is extremely susceptible to smudges and dirt - as discovered through the transfer of ink from my newspapers. It may just be the white model but within a day or two of use the back looked like it had been used to sweep chimneys.
Perhaps weirdest of all though is the magnet built in to the bottom left of the back. Despite countless Google searches, this remains a mystery and the only effect I’ve noticed is its ability to spill change onto the floor whenever I take the phone out of my pocket.
The 5 inch screen gives it an extra .5 of an inch over its rivals but also means battery life may be an issue for heavy duty users.
Accentuated by high chroma icons, the vibrant display is well suited to your standard mix of social media, casual gaming and video consumption. With IPS display and MiraVision colour enhancement it excels even on the macro scale in giving detail and depth to textures such as the grain of wood, this goes some way to overcome the overly smoothing tendencies of anti-aliasing.
The high-end look comes with several performance compromises, the limiting 8GB internal storage can be expanded by a further 32GB but this is a necessity rather than an option for anybody who intends to use the phone for anything beyond casual use.
Before even turning on your new phone, you’ve already lost 2.7GB to the OS and a further 0.3GB to apps. One average happy-snapping night out with a couple of videos took up another 2.9GB, leaving 1.96GB to play with. Despite the reduced free space, its quad core 1.3GHz processor remained surprisingly responsive, though the camera does become a bit jittery.
For such a slim model it also avoids the problem of over-heating quite efficiently, with only a slight warming after 15 minutes of solid top quality filming.
In terms of web browsing, 4G LTE capability makes even video streaming on the go a standard activity and allows cloud storage to compensate for the internal squeeze shown above.
Detailed settings have given way to quick and intuitive snapping though a few nice features remain – slide bar ISO and exposure. The one touch zooming comes into its own here, allowing users to keep the phone steady while framing the shot with the zoom at the same time (not that using a digital zoom is always beneficial). Compared to Sony, HTC and Samsung the pre-set modes are rather limited though it does a good job of auto adjusting though it can struggle to auto-focus in low light.
The quick-fire image capture mode readily available through the volume button will appeal to anybody who has ever missed a special moment because of their image timing.
The Idol 2s is the best looking handset in its class and even surpasses a couple of flagships, the visual appeal extends through its screen which punched well above its weight at its time of release (June 2014). It tries to keep this up throughout but occasionally over-reaches and falls flat.
For instance, shooting 1080p video with only 5GB of available inbuilt storage is little more than a novelty, claims of “HD” speakers will horrify audiophiles and its Android loadout has neither the techy appeal of stock android (see the Moto G) nor the iconic modifications of its Xperia or Galaxy rivals. However, these drawbacks are acceptable when balanced with its price, style, practicality and ambition. The latter aspect should challenge competitors to produce better looking mid-range models and make the Idol 2s the go-to option for users wanting a reasonably priced and attractive handset.