Alcatel OneTouch Idol 2 and OneTouch Idol 2S hands-on: mid-range warriors
Even though MWC 2014 has not officially kicked off yet, announcements have already started coming our way. And here's Alcatel with two new mid-range warriors – the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 2 and the OneTouch Idol 2S. On the surface, these two phones seem to have a lot in common. In fact, they share the very same slim and lightweight design. Sure, these smartphones are still plastic-built through and through, but the combination of surface finishes on their sides and back plates makes them quite pleasant to handle.
Still, there is a number of things that sets these two phones apart. For starters, the display on the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 2S is superior to the one on the Idol 2 due to its higher pixel count – 720 by 1280 pixels for the former vs 540 by 960 pixels for the latter. That's why even though both panels have the same diagonal size of 5 inches, the screen on the OneTouch Idol 2S is much more pleasant to look at. Thankfully, both displays exhibit very good viewing angles and satisfactory color reproduction. The two are protected by a layer of Dragontrail glass, which should serve as a barrier against light scratches.
Alcatel will be releasing the OneTouch Idol 2S with Android 4.3 out of the box, while the Idol 2 will run Android 4.2 at launch. The good news is that the two will be treated to a serving of 4.4 KitKat at some point in the future. Both smartphones come with Alcatel's custom user interface layered on top of Android – it is colorful and fresh, all the while introducing some handy extra features. Some apps, for example, have built-in one finger zoom, which works with a double tap and a swipe up (for zooming in) or down (for zooming out) right after that.
The performance of these two phones was far from stellar when we tested them, but that was most likely due to the non-finalized nature of the software they were running, which is why we cannot judge them at this time. In terms of hardware, there's a 1.2GHz quad-core SoC powering the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 2S and a 1.3GHz quad-core SoC has been picked for the Idol 2. Both pack a gig of RAM. That doesn't seem like a whole lot of processing power, but as long as the software of the phones gets optimized accordingly, the experience of using either of these two phones should be a smooth one. As long as you don't force them to run heavy video games, that is.
Camera-wise, both smartphones pack 8MP main cameras with auto-focus and an LED flash. A shortcut on the lock screen makes it easy to launch the camera on the fly, while the software doesn't take long to load. The two snappers can record 1080p video, as a proper camera should nowadays, and support extras like HDR, Panorama, and software image stabilization. Finally, there is a front-facing camera on both of these phones.
One of the tricks that the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 2S has up its sleeve is its LTE radio, allowing it to connect to super-fast 4G networks on a number of wireless carriers. The Alcatel OneTouch Idol 2, on the other hand, lacks LTE connectivity, but it will be available in both single- and dual-SIM variants, while the Idol 2S will be a single-SIM device only.
Overall, the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 2 and OneTouch Idol 2S are shaping up as two promising handsets. They are both pleasant to handle and they don't seem to lack in features, which could potentially make them worthy picks for anyone looking for a reasonably-priced Android smartphone.