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Alcatel OneTouch Idol X+ first impressions: flagship specs, stylish looks and killer pricing

|May 29 2014 |Android Phones, Android

“We go hands on with Alcatel’s latest offering for the Indian market”
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Alcatel has been present in the Indian mobile phone market for quite some time. However, it’s devices were placed in the affordable price bracket and rocked average specifications which didn’t warrant it much attention. Now, the brand is ready to makes some noise in the crowded market with the launch of its latest flagship, the One Touch Idol X+. The brand showcased the device at an event in New Delhi today and we were able to try it out for a brief period of time. Here’s our first-hand experience with the Alcatel OneTouch Idol X+.

The first thing you’ll notice when you hold the device is how light it feels in your hand. It tips the scales at 125 grams, which makes the device quite lightweight for its size. At 8.1mm thickness, it’s also very slim compared to most other power-packed smartphones. It also has very slim bezels around its 5-inch IPS display. With a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, the smartphone displays clear and crisp visuals along with good viewing angles. For protection against minor scratches, there’s a layer of the Corning Gorilla Glass 2. The front of the OneTouch Idol X+ sports the usual stuff such as an earpiece, sensors and front shooter above the display and a row of backlit capacitive keys below.

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The sides of the smartphone feature a metallic finish. On the right edge, you’ll find a SIM tray and a volume rocker, whereas the left side gets another SIM tray. This way, the smartphone is able to support two micro-SIMs that can be inserted by pushing the spring-loaded flaps.What seemed odd to us though, is the placement of the power button on the top along with the 3.5mm headphone jack. For a device of its size, it could be tough to reach it, especially for those with small hands. The bottom of the handset has a micro-USB port along with dual speakers. The non-removable back houses a main camera unit along with an LED flash. Sadly, the rear is very glossy, which means that it attracts fingerprints and is also prone to slippage. However, apart from this, we really liked the build quality of the device and it definitely exudes premiumness with its design.

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The Idol X+ boasts absolutely top-of-the-line internals led by MediaTek’s octa-core chipset, the MT6592T clocked at 2GHz. With this processor, the device can exploit the potential of all cores at their full speed at all times, unlike the implementation done by Samsung with its Exynos 5 Octa SoC. A healthy 2GB of RAM gives company to the processor, resulting in a smooth performance. During our use, there was not even a single instance of lag and the OneTouch Idol X+ handled everything with ease. We were also able to run AnTuTu benchmark on the smartphone, which rates the device on its performance aspect and it scored 29,527 points. We must add here that benchmarks are just indicative of performance, and we'd  like to wait till the time we get to review it to comment about its real-life performance.

For installing apps and storing multimedia, the Idol X+ comes equipped with 16GB of storage, out of which approximately 12.3GB is accessible to the end-user. But unfortunately it can’t be extended further. The smartphone is fuelled by a fixed Li-ion 2,500mAh battery.

The software side of things are managed by the relatively old Android 4.2.2, though the company has said that an upgrade to 4.4 KitKat will be rolled out soon. On top of it, the device has a heavily-skinned custom interface right from the home screen. While the home screen isn't too different from other ‘Droids, Alcatel has made some interesting changes to it. The first (leftmost) screen is actually a photo stream which can be configured to import images from specific folders and users can also pinch to zoom in or out of the images. The second screen is dedicated to widgets, where users can place a number of them and the screen can be scrolled vertically. The third screen, which is also the default, is standard, whereas the fourth screen lists favourite apps. In the last screen, you can find the apps neatly categorised under various folders such as Productivity and Games.

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You also get a regular app launcher which shows all the apps available on the device. The icons are also different from stock Android and are very colourful. The notification pane can be dragged from the top of the screen as usual, and while it has also been tweaked, serves the same purpose. The quick settings menu is also customised, giving options to capture screenshots etc., along with the usual set of toggles. The device is also comes preinstalled with a few apps and games like Asphalt 7, Danger Dash, etc.

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To lure shutterbugs, the Alcatel OneTouch Idol X+ has a 13.1-megapixel at the rear supplemented by an LED flash. The camera app is also custom and in our testing, the device clicked decent pictures. However, we would reserve our final judgment until the review. At the front, it has a 2MP shooter that can be used for video calls and self-portraits.

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The smartphone also boasts of some audio-centric features to attract audiophiles. It has a Hi-Fi chip to decode high quality 24-bit/ 192KHz audio streams. The company is also bundling premium JBL in-ear earphones free with the device.

Along with the Idol X+, Alcatel is also offering its BOOMband activity tracker completely free. The tracker can be strapped on your wrist and tracks steps, calories and sleep. It doesn’t have a display, but can give alerts about incoming calls and messages by vibrating and blinking its LED. It connects with the smartphone over Bluetooth 4.0 and you also need the BOOMband Life companion app to configure it. The band is very lightweight and doesn’t feel odd on the wrist. It has a removable unit that can be charged by regular USB cable and features touch-sensitive buttons to perform various actions.

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Coming down to the pricing of the smartphone, Alcatel is leveraging the benefit of online sales with Flipkart and undercuts the competition with the price tag of Rs 16,999. The deal becomes even more enticing considering you also get JBL earphones and the BOOMband activity tracker for the unarguable cost of nada. However, it would still be tough for it to capture market share as it’d be competing against the likes of the Micromax Canvas Knight A350 (review), the recently-launched Panasonic P81 (first impressions), Gionee Elife E7 Mini and the soon-to-be-launched Karbonn Titanium Octane Plus. But that said, the Idol X+ seems better than most of these on the specs front as well as the design aspect, plus the free goodies also makes it more appealing. Stay tuned as we’ll bring you a detailed review soon to gauge whether it’s a worthy buy or not.

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