Alcatel Idol 3 duo is yet another proof that users no longer need to part with large amounts of cash in order to get a top notch smartphone experience. The smartphones combine quality hardware and polished software into a well-designed, solidly made packages each in their respective market segment.
Hardware-wise, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 chipset and the 13MP Sony-made camera performed up to our expectations just as expected. The bright and crisp 5.5" 1080p IPS display on the other hand, should easily satisfy all but the most discerning smartphone users, especially in the price range that the Idol 3 (5.5) inhibits.
The above applies for the 4.7" model as well. Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 doesn't quite match the oomph of the 615 model, but it has different competitors to face.
The loud stereo speakers make the smartphone truly stand out in its segment. Coupled with the memory card slot and the nice-looking displays, they truly make both Idol 3 models budget-friendly multimedia devices.
The reversible phone design that they also share is perhaps an industry's first though it hardly solves any real issues.
The overly colorful UI is another questionable solution, though, we believe, it's a matter of personal opinion. However, compared to Google's Material Design, we find Alcatel's a bit over the top.
Alcatel has priced the Idol 3 (5.5) for $249.99 unlocked and contract-free in the United States. At one point, the device's price was down to $199.99, thus making it one of the best smartphone bargains around. In Europe, it goes for around 250 euro.
As always, we looked around to see what else $250 can get you these days. Here are some of the most notable alternatives to Alcatel Idol 3 (5.5) for the money.
Asus ZenFone 2 is undeniably the biggest threat to the Idol 5 (5.5). The Intel-powered phablet starts at $199.99 for a version with 2GB of RAM, and tops out at $299.99 for a variant with 4GB of RAM.
The ZenFone matches the camera and the screen of the Idol 3 and offers more capable chipset. However, it lacks stereo speakers and is (arguably) nowhere near as visually attractive as the Alcatel due to the extra body thickness.
Fresh off a major price cut, OnePlus One now costs only $249 for a 16GB version and $299 for a 64GB model. The "Flagship Killer" entices with a high-end aura and more powerful chipset, but lacks expandable memory and stereo speakers.
Moto G (2014) entices with stock Android, quick updates, stereo speakers, and expandable memory. The handset is a worthy rival to the Idol 3 (4.7), but is nowhere near as talented as the 5.5" model.
Last year's HTC One (M8) flagship can be found easily for less than $300 unlocked online. The device impresses with gorgeous metal body and BoomSound stereo speaker among its many talents. However, its camera is nowhere near as good as the one of the Idol 3 (5.5).
The Meizu m1 note is a competing value proposition. It packs a FullHD 5.5-inch display, but has no microSD slot. The Mediatek MT6752 chipset is surprisingly well geared. What it lacks is the Idol 3's slim profile and overall more upmarket looks. There is also the question of finding a retailer that will take proper care of the after sales support.
Alcatel's parent company TCL has picked the right time to enter the US market with the Idol 3 (5.5). Two-year contracts are all but extinct and paying full price for a smartphone is no longer a crazy idea, thus making devices that offer value for money without skimping on features an increasingly popular commodity.
Users looking for a good smartphone on the cheap will certainly enjoy the Idol 3, so long as they can live with its small quirks. The handset is the best smartphone effort by Alcatel to date and a sign of more good things to come from the manufacturer.