- Half-baked VR headset
- Inconsistent cameras
- Slippery back
- Mid-tier processor will age quickly
Alcatel turned heads with the Idol 3, but many were let down but the build quality. With the Idol 4S, Alcatel is beefing up design polish while including enticing extras--namely the VR headset. But with the mid-tier market as competitive as ever, is the 4S a good value?
We’ve scoured the best review sites on the web so you don’t have to! Let’s see what they’re saying!
Looking at the phone, all reviews agreed that the 4S is a step up from the typical Alcatel build quality and design. You’ll find an aluminum chassis with glass accents and virtually zero plastic. There’s a few design points that set the phone apart--though reviews were mixed on whether this was a good thing. Phone Scoop noted, “Alcatel put the screen lock button at the top of Idol's left edge, and it annoys me just as much as it did on last year's phone.”
Other reviewers found that while the glass back looked great, it caused some issues. Android Police said, “Overall, I like the way this phone looks, though I am less of a fan of the way it feels: a bit sharp in the hand and really effing slippery.” However, the phone includes a bumper case and tempered glass screen protector to help you survive drops and slips.
Flipping around to the front of the phone, you’re greeted with a 5.5-inch AMOLED panel running at 2560-by-1440. Phone Scoop declared, “There's no question the screen is attractive. It has gobs of pixels, plenty of brightness, and good viewing angles.” A few reviewers questioned the brightness of the display, with Stuff noting, “You’ll need to step into the shade to see things properly outdoors.”
Powering the display, you’ll find an eight-core Snapdragon 652 processor. Specs-wise, this is firmly mid-tier and reviews matched. 3GB of RAM will help with multitasking. Tom’s Guide said, “The Idol 4S' Snapdragon 652 processor isn't the speediest CPU, but it was plenty fast for most activities.” Digital Trends agreed, saying, “in our time using the Idol 4S, we have not experienced any stutters, lag, or issues. Switching between apps is quick, and so is triggering applications like the camera.”
To ensure there’s room for all your apps, movies and other content, the phone offers 32GB of onboard storage. MicroSD card and Android Adoptable Storage support means you can add an additional 512GB of seamless storage.
Unforunately, if you’re looking to snap pictures often, reviews on the 16MP rear camera and 8MP front-facing lens are mixed. PC Magazine said, “Pictures I took outside during a sunny day were clear, with minimal noise and grain. But pictures taken at the same location on a cloudy day were filled with noise and grain, and were often too dark, with trees and buildings cast into shadows and the sky overexposed.” While the camera appears capable of taking great pictures, reviews indicate that getting it to do so predictably is tricky.
The 3,000mAh battery in the Idol 4S rated average by most reviewers. The Verge noted, “The battery is also able to last a full day between charges for me, and the quick charging feature lets me top up in a hurry. The quick charging feature also works with any Qualcomm-certified charger.”
One area where the phone really shined was audio. The dual front-facing speakers surprised most reviewers. Android Police said, “This is easily among the very best speaker arrays I've ever listened to on a smartphone.” Stuff agreed, saying, “You’ll be blown-away by just how loud they can go - forget pairing it to a Bluetooth speaker, you can fill a small room with sound just using the phone by itself.” Reviewers also noted that the grills on both sides of the device allow you to listen to music, or even take calls, with the phone face down.
While the phone includes a VR headset, reviews weren’t great. Most noted fit issues and the lack of focus controls led to a disorienting experience for many. In the end, most reviews agreed that if VR is your main reason to buy the phone, you might want to pass.
Overall, reviews were positive. The biggest issue brought up by most was price. The Verge summed things up well, saying, “I have a lot of good things to say about the Idol 4S: it’s well made, performs well, and doesn’t have any major flaws. But I can say that about other phones that are priced similarly, which makes it tough for the Idol 4S to separate itself, even with its included VR viewer.”