Alcatel’s Idol 4S smartphone has been around since the summer of 2016, and now the TCL-owned company is releasing a slightly beefed-up variant that doesn’t run Android. Yep, that’s right — for all you die-hard Windows Mobile fans, the Idol 4S is now an option in a small pool of fresh devices.
Ths Idol 4S variant is unlocked with GSM capability (AT&T and T-Mobile), runs Windows 10 Mobile, and is available for purchase now at the Microsoft Store for $470. That’s $70 more than the Android variant, but for good reason — it comes with the Snapdragon 820, 2016’s flagship processor that powers devices like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and the OnePlus 3.
It has the same design as the Android variant, including the 5.5-inch display. But there are some other internal improvements — notably, you get double the internal storage at 64GB; 4GB of RAM, which is an extra gigabyte; and 21 megapixels packed into the rear camera, compared to the 16 megapixels on the Android model.
It looks like the display was downgraded from Quad HD to Full HD, or 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution. It has the same 3,000mAh battery, USB Type-C charging port, and 8-megapixel front-facing camera.
The Idol 4S Windows 10 edition supports Continuum, Cortana, and utilizes the fingerprint sensor for Windows Hello. Alcatel’s VR headset that came packed with the Android model still works with the Windows variant as well.
The Android Alcatel Idol 4S packs a 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED screen — or a 2,560 x 1,440-pixel resolution. It’s powered by an eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor, has 3GB of RAM, 32GB of built-in storage space, and a 3,000mAh battery to boot. You can expand your storage thanks to MicroSD card support.
The rear camera captures a sharp 16-megapixel image using an f/2.0 aperture lens, and the front-facing camera packs 8 megapixels and even features flash. You’ll also be able to capture 2K video at 30fps, 1080p video at 60 fps, and 720p video at 120fps.
Of course, Alcatel is also highlighting the Boom Key experience with the Idol 4S — it’s a button on the side of the phone that can perform functions in different apps. For example, you can double press it to take a photo or long press it to take a burst shot. You can also use it to boost the audio when music is playing, or you can use it to trigger a specific application.
The specs are certainly solid, and the price tag is fairly low at $400. For that price, you could get the ZTE Axon 7, which has almost the same specifications except it features the more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor.
The design is fairly distinct from previous Idol devices, as the back and front of the device are covered in 2.5D glass. The top and bottom edges can feel a little sharp as there are front-facing speakers that jut out, and the power button can be a little hard to reach as it sits all the way on the top left side of the phone. The back of the device resembles a Samsung Galaxy S7, except you’ll find the fingerprint sensor and Alcatel’s branding there, too.
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You’ll find a slightly tweaked version of stock Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow on the Idol 4S. There are some pre-installed apps and some design changes particularly to the notification drawer, but the experience is more or less quite similar to pure Android. As far as updates go, Alcatel tells Digital Trends it prides itself on its security updates. It has been pushing the software updates it gets from Google to its devices monthly.
You can read our full review of the Idol 4S here. The device has been available since August 2016, and launched with a price tag of $400.
A VR bundle
When you buy the Idol 4S, you’re not just getting the smartphone. Alcatel is offering a virtual reality bundle, which includes a headset that resembles Samsung’s Gear VR. Slide the Idol 4S into the front of the headset, and you’ll be able to enjoy content in immersive VR. Alcatel is bundling the phone with a few apps to make the VR experience seamless. One example is Littlestar, a media app that offers VR content from various outlets like ABC News and Showtime. You’ll also find Alcatel’s very own VR Launcher and VR Store — the launcher lets you browse through all your VR content in one place, so you don’t have to take your phone out to navigate to another app. The VR Store will feature original content from Alcatel.
Unfortunately, the headset is not Daydream-certified, so don’t expect to use Google’s new mobile virtual reality platform with the headset.
Article originally published in February 2016. Updated on 01/17/2017 by Julian Chokkattu: Added news about the Windows 10 variant’s availability.