As Mobile World Congress rumbled into life ahead of its official opening day on Monday, ITProPortal was among the first to get its hands on a brand new entry for the 5in smartphone market before its formal launch tomorrow, as we scrutinised the Alcatel One Touch Idol X.
The beginning of 2013 has seen something of an onslaught of large form-factor handsets, quickly saturating a segment practically owned by Samsung and its Galaxy Note ‘phablets’ until recently. Leading the charge at CES was the Sony Xperia Z, while the arrivals of the Huawei Ascend Mate, ZTE Grand S and the budget Kogan Agota quickly added to the 5in-plus category.
So the Alcatel One Touch Idol X has certainly got a job on its hands to distinguish itself from the pack, yet we feel it has made a decent fist of it.
Its credible specs include a 1.5Ghz quad-core processor from Intel, a full HD 1080p display, and a 13-megapixel camera. Models in some markets may sport a more modest 8-megapixel camera, but Alcatel execs assured us the UK was likely to receive the high-end shooter. Software-wise it runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean – an strong weapon in the armoury that felt extremely quick and responsive on the Idol X.
With the phone in your hand the first thing you are struck by is its weightlessness. It really is as light as the proverbial feather, a nice boon with a phone that’s so big. And that’s another thing, the ultra-slim body and tidy curved edges help it feel more compact, and combined with its lightness the Idol X does not feel as big as it should. Perhaps we are all just getting used to these jumbo handsets now.
The device certainly doesn’t feel high end, but that’s not where Alcatel is going to be aiming right now and the Idol X looks comfortable in its own skin. The brightly coloured back casing (ours was a red model, but blue, yellow and pink version are also available) gives it an eye catching twist when we’re so used to seeing dark, monochrome greys and blacks on new phones.
The rubber finish is extremely soft to the touch - non-premium has honestly never felt so good - though there may be question marks over its durability in the long term.
So while Alcatel One Touch Idol X won’t necessarily be the first words leaving people’s lips in coffee shops and patisseries throughout Barcelona tomorrow morning, it first impressions suggest it has the tools to compete well in the increasingly competitive 5in segment.
So much will depend on pricing, which we should hear more about tomorrow, but Alcatel, who also unleashed the One Touch Fire budget handset this evening running Mozilla’s new Firefox OS, has already laid down a good marker at this year’s MWC.