Alcatel Idol 5 & UNI360 VR hands-on

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We checked out the Alcatel Idol 5 not too long ago in Berlin for IFA 2017, but the one we're talking about here is for the US market. Specifically, it's a Cricket Wireless exclusive and will be available starting on October, alongside with a new VR headset dubbed the UNI360 VR Goggles. For those looking to experience mobile VR on the cheap, this might be a solution that's perfect for you.

Interestingly enough, while this version of the Idol 5 looks very much like the European model we checked out, one that looks and feels premium for its price point thanks to its metal body and polished aluminum edges, there are some difference with the specs. You can say they've been dialed down in order to reach a more competitive price point, like how it now has 2GB of RAM as opposed to 3GB, but at the end of the day, it still delivers a balanced package that won't break the bank. The specs break down to the following:

  • 5.2-inch full-HD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 
  • MediaTek Helio P20 Octa-Core (2.35GHz) chipset 
  • 2GB RAM 
  • 32GB internal memory with microSD card slot 
  • 12 MP rear camera with dual-tone flash 
  • 8 MP front camera with LED flash 
  • 2850 mAh battery 
  • Fast-charging 

One of the first things to take note about the Idol 5 is that it's VR capable. Offered separately, the UNI360 VR Goggles delivers on that experience, which features a 120-degree field of view, ample cushioning, and integrated controls, as well as an adjustment knob for focusing. Better yet, it's compatible with almost any smartphone with 5 to 6-inch displays. For most mobile VR experiences, like 360 videos and photos, the Idol 5 and UNI360 VR should be enough to get by. 

Other than that, the other main standouts of this Idol 5 include its dual front-firing speakers. They're naturally perfect for watching videos, as they project audio towards you, but it also helps to enhance the VR experience as well if you don't want to use headphones of some kind. Speaking of headphones, it's nice to see that it offers a headphone jack to quickly allows you to use headphones without worry – unlike some other phones. However, for its price and all, we were really hoping to find a fingerprint sensor.

Pricing for the Alcatel Idol 5 for Cricket Wireless is $199 when it goes on sale beginning on October 27th, while the UNI360 VR Googles can be purchased separately for $49.99. At $250, it's not terribly expensive for something that gets you into VR right away.

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