Alcatel OneTouch Hero 2 Review
A couple of months ago, Alcatel launched the OneTouch Hero 2 – the second rendition of a 6"-screened, stylus-equipped smartphone line, which was originally introduced in last year's September. Made for those, looking for a more budget-friendly phablet, the Hero 2 follows the steps of its predecessor and brings along a few improvements, to keep it relevant. The CPU under the hood is now an octa-core MediaTek MT6592, clocked at 2 GHz, the main camera has received an Optical Image Stabilization upgrade, while the selfie cam has been bumped up to a 5 MP resolution. Alcatel has also redesigned the Sidekick – a Bluetooth-connected, compact companion handset – which now looks less like a feature phone and more like a smart gadget. Are these new features enough to make the OneTouch Hero 2 a viable option for those in the phablet market? Let's find out!
In the box:
- Wall charger
- USB cable
- JBL In-ear headphones with 3 sets of different size tips
- Three Magic Flip covers
- SIM ejector tool
- Sidekick 2 compact Bluetooth handset
Keeping the design language from last year, the OneTouch Hero 2 still impresses us with a high screen-to-body ratio and adds a metal frame in the mix.
Looking at the OneTouch Hero 2 from the front, one can hardly find any difference between it and its predecessor – aside from the very slightly thicker bezels and a mirrored frontal cam placement, the design language is more or less the same – the edges are rounded off, the silver-colored earpiece grill above the screen is neighbored by the camera and proximity sensor, while three navigational capacitive buttons sit just below the screen.
When we spin the device around, however, we can find some differences. The Hero 2 has received an aluminum frame wrap – keeping up with the recent trend among smartphone manufacturers – which looks good all around, and houses the speaker grille engravings, stylus, power and volume buttons, microSD and SIM card slots, IR blaster. Each of these is crafted to fit the shape of the frame and nothing looks out of place. The back of the device, however, we found to be slightly disappointing – a matte plastic, which attracts fingerprints more than we would like it to, and generally feels cheap in the hands.
On the plus side – the back is grippy and comfortably shaped, so the phone still feels manageable with one hand. This is also assisted by the device's rather condensed footprint, considering the screen size, of course, and even though its screen-to-body ratio is around 2% lower, when compared to last year's model, it is still pinned at the impressive 75.83%.
The build quality feels sturdy in the hand – nothing moves around, nothing creaks and cracks, and we generally feel confident in the device's structural integrity. This is probably assisted by the fact that the phone's back is non-removable. The buttons are clicky enough, but feel shallow and wobbly. We really like the power button's placement – it's on the center of the right side – and combined with the overall shape of the device, we found that we are always able to access it effortlessly. The volume buttons are positioned slightly above it and are combined in a single rocker, which, when added up with the wobbliness and low travel, does not make for the best experience and causes us to strain at times, while setting volume levels.
The OneTouch Hero 2 comes with 3 proprietary Magic Flip covers – a foldable stand cover, a “magic window”-type cover, and an LED cover. These latch on to the phone via strong magnets on both sides of its body, and while neat – we found that the magnets cause problems when we need to store the phone next to something metal – the keys in our pocket, for example.
The companion handset – the Sidekick 2 – is also pleasing to the eye. It keeps with the Hero 2's design language, as it also sports an aluminum frame and the same plastic back. Its front is an entirely touch-based panel, which makes it look sleek and modern. Its buttons are far less wobbly and, albeit they still lack travel, feel more pleasurable to use. The companion handset's vibration also impressed us with a nice, pronounced pulsation, which gives us clear feedback when using it.
A 6” display with a 1080 x 1920 resolution leaves things crisp-looking, without going in crazy-PPI land.
Aside from its gargantuan 6” size, the display of the OneTouch Hero 2 doesn't offer anything crazy by today's standards – it glows with a 1080 x 1920 resolution, which provides a 367 PPI density – things look crisp and viewing text-rich media is a pleasurable experience. The color temperature is fairly close to the reference values at 7100 K, suggesting the display has a slight bluish tint. Its contrast ratio may be high, but colors still appear a bit dull and washed-out – our tests revealed that the display's gamma drops well below the reference 2.2 level in the mid-range grayscale fields, which is the main culprit for that. To top it off – our unit has a very faint yellowish spot at the bottom of the display, which we found a bit annoying.
As far as brightness goes, the screen can glow with a maximum of 481 nits, making it usable outdoors, however, the lowest it can go down to is 17 nits, which makes it uncomfortable for viewing in the dark.