Alcatel OneTouch Idol X+ Review
Interface and functionality
The OneTouch interface is simple and easy to master, but the phone will likely be stuck on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean for the foreseeable future.
Alcatel supplies a tidy OneTouch Android interface overlay on top of 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with the Idol X+. This is two versions prior to the current Android 4.4 KitKat, with no word whether this handset will ever get to KitKat. Its general looks are not far from the stock experience, with the lock screen, contacts, wallpaper and notification bar graphics closely matching it, save for the transparent background. The lock screen shows date, time and weather, or calendar, and you can swipe back and forth between the two without unlocking.
The iconography is big, colorful, and begging to be tapped on. The most used apps have shortcuts placed directly on the home screens by default, and the rest are neatly arranged into categorized Google Services, Productivity, Assistance, Tools and Games folders there. Those folders are heavily populated with preinstalled stuff – from a Torch app, through two offices – QuickOffice and KingSoft - to a few Gameloft titles. Alcatel also throws in a few pretty handpicked widgets for your weather, contacts and calendar duties, which look much better than the stock ones. We were delighted to see that the excellent SwiftKey app has remained the default keyboard option on the Idol X+, just like it was on the Idol X.
The dock contains four icon shortcuts, which can be rearranged and replaced to your heart's desire, and that about sums up the interface customizations Alcatel has peppered on.
Since we have a dual SIM device, the company has ensured a SIM management app is present as well, which lets you name and color your two connections as you please, and set roaming preferences or restrictions for them.
Processor and memory
The new octa-core MediaTek is a big improvement over the quad-core in the Idol X+ predecessor, but still lagging when compared to Qualcomm's finest.
The weakest spot of the Idol X was the measly quad-core MediaTek chipset, but the Idol X+ has upgraded its innards well here. The processor is still MediaTek, but the new “true octa-core” MT6592, clocked at 2 GHz, accompanied by a Mali-450 GPU. By “true octa-core,” MediaTek means that the eight cores can fire on all cylinders at once, which is not that hard to believe, given that the cores are still of the frugal and relatively weak Cortex-A7 type. As you can see from the benchmarks below, this MediaTek chipset might not be in the ranks of Snapdragon 801, or even 800, but it certainly won't leave you asking for more. Its CPU scores slightly below Snapdragon 800, and above Snapdragon 600, but the graphics unit lags behind, being on par with the Snapdragon 600 GPU. The interface is fluid, and the phone ran any app thrown at it, including heavy 3D games like Asphalt 8.
Alcatel has placed 2 GB of RAM in the handset, aiding multitasking and loading times. We also get 16 GB (12.75 GB user-available) of internal memory, plus a microSD slot, but only for the version with one SIM card.
Internet and connectivity
The stock browser on the handset renders pages pretty fast, and we had no issues with choppy scrolling or laggy panning. The browser is primed to render the pages in real time while zooming in and out, and the task is handled remarkably well, with barely a blur while zooming or panning. In addition, all text content looks crisp at this high pixel density, while text reflow works like a charm, snapping the columns into the screen width immediately.
There's little skimping on connectivity options with Alcatel's finest – the Idol X+ supports 42 Mbps HSPA+ download speeds and HD voice, if your European/Asian carrier can supply the goods, of course, as those are the regions that the phone is aimed at. The two SIM cards can't hook up simultaneously on such speeds, but you can gobble fast data on one, while talking with the other, for instance, as the phone is a dual Active device. The cards are also hot-swappable, meaning you don't have to reboot the handset when inserting a new SIM card, or taking one out – the handset just reloads the launcher, asks for your PIN if you cards have one, and that's that.
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA and FM radio round up the other connectivity options, with about the only thing missing being NFC.