Hands-On: Alcatel Hero, OneTouch Alpha, and Idol Mini
The Idol Mini, which may arrive in the U.S. in the coming months, is a cute little addition to Alcatel's lineup of Android smartphones. It has a near-premium feel in a compact and comfortable form factor that has plenty of appeal.
The Idol Mini is a small and slim device that is cased in a metallic shell. The smaller screen size, 4.3 inches, allowed Alcatel to keep the overall footprint at a minimum. The body shell is formed from one piece, and that means there are no edges or grooves to bug your hand. It has a rounded profile thanks to gently-curved sides. The device, though a prototype, felt strong and solid yet light and airy at the same time.
The screen has 854 x 480 pixels, but it still manages to look pretty good thanks to the less-than-phablet dimensions of the phone. Brightness of the screen was excellent, and that helped offset the noticeable pixels. Viewing angles were good, but there was a bit of brightness drop-off when the phone was tilted side to side. There are three capacitive buttons below the screen. They are easy to find and work well.
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The volume toggle is on the left side of the phone. It is silver-colored and stands out visually. The profile of the button is decent and travel and feedback were good. The screen lock button is on the top of the phone. It, too, has a good profile, though travel and feedback weren't as good. There are slim hatches placed into the right edge of the phone for the microSD and SIM cards.
The back of the phone has a nice texture to it that makes the Mini easy to grip. There's a 5-megapixel camera and flash there, as well as the speakerphone grill.
The devices on hand at the Alcatel booth were running Android 4.2 with Alcatel's light user interface skin. The icons and colors are a bit different from other Android devices, but it works just the same.
If the Alcatel Idol Mini reaches the U.S., it'll likely be carrier by one of the smaller, regional network operators.
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Here's a neat one. Alcatel showed off the A5 LED this week, an entry-level smartphone that packs some visual pow thanks to light-up LEDs that cover the back surface.
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Alcatel's flagship Android handset strives to break through barriers with its high-end design and mid-range specs. The middle of the market is a tough space in which to play, and, rather than allowing the Idol 4S to stand on its own merits, Alcatel hopes a set of VR goggles, a case, and a pair of headphones will help sweeten the deal.