T-Mobile and Alcatel are set to release the Idol 4S next week with Windows 10 Mobile. The phone will retail for $469 on November 10, which is a nice price when you consider the included VR headset that comes in the box.
Before we get to our full review, next week I figured I'd do a quick unboxing and share some initial impressions. Also, I'll share some camera samples and answer a few questions I know many of you have about this impressive device. Let's go!
Alcatel Idol 4S with Windows 10 Mobile
|Snapdragon 820 | Quad Core CPU @2.15 GHz
|5.5-inch FHD AMOLED
Dragontrail 2.5D Glass
|21 MP Rear
8 MP FF
Dedicated camera button
Dual-tone rear flash
LED front flash
|4K @ 30FPS
1080P @ 60 FPS
Quick Charge 2.0
|Dual speakers with Hi-Fi surround sound
|153.9 x 75.4 x 6.99 mm
T-Mobile Extended Range LTE
|I, II, IV, V
|1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 20
Wi-Fi Calling 1.0
A2DP, OPP, HFP, AVRCP, PBAP
In the box
- Alcatel Idol 4S
- VR headset/case
- Quick Charge 2.0 charger + USB Type-C cable
The Alcatel Idol 4S has surprised me in a good way. I have become accustomed to being underwhelmed by non-Lumia phones in the past, but so far the HP Elite x3 and Idol 4S are bucking those trends.
Here are my quick observations:
- Performance is outstanding likely due to the Full HD display (fewer pixels), and it does feel slightly faster than the Elite x3 because of that
- The display is excellent. While the Elite x3 is still better due to the higher resolution and slightly richer AMOLED I cannot complain about the Idol 4S either
- Button placement is different, but not bad
- The fingerprint reader is very fast, but the small ridges around it make using it while not looking a little harder than the Elite x3
- The camera feels very much like the Elite x3 despite having a slight edge on megapixel count. Again, it's not a terrible camera for daylight/standard shots, but it will struggle in low light or fast-moving objects. On the plus side, that camera button is nifty!
- The phone has no stability or crashing issues like the Elite x3 had during its early release stage (now fixed). It's very reliable with no obvious bugs or flaws either in hardware design or software execution
- Being glass and metal it will pick up fingerprint quickly; I would consider a case if you a prone to dropping phones
- The VR experience is OK. I'm not a huge VR fan, and the lower resolution display is noticeable when using the headset compared to the Galaxy S7. I consider the VR experience a bonus add-on, not the core reason to buy this phone so whatever. At the end of the day, phone VR is still just phone VR.
- You cannot remove the T-Mobile app for whatever reason
- The dual front firing speakers are tremendous. While the Elite x3 also has the same setup those are tuned high for speaker phone and lack bass. The Idol 4S are much better for media and music and sound fantastic
One day in with the Idol 4S and I'm liking it a lot with little to no complaints. If you are on T-Mobile and are looking for something high end with Windows 10 Mobile, this is a good bet.
Here are a few quick unedited shots. You can find non-resized on imgur if you want the originals. Most of these were shot at 4x3 aspect with the full 21MP sensor. The outdoor/trees photo is using HDR; the 'selfie' is using the front-facing camera.
Idol 4S FAQ
- Does the Idol 4S have NFC and tap to pay?- No, the phone does not have NFC, therefore, no tap to pay option
- Does the Idols 4S have Glance/Equalizer/Gadgets? - No, those features are still Lumia-exclusive
- Does the Idol 4S have double-tap to wake? Yes, the Idol 4S has double-tap to wake and super-sensitive touch for when wearing gloves
- Is the Idol 4S SIM unlocked? Update: Unfortunately, the T-Mobile Idol 4S will be SIM-locked for retail; ours is a pre-production unit hence why we can run it on AT&T too. Sorry!
- Will the Idol 4S be released elsewhere? Alcatel is quiet on a non-T-Mobile version. That makes sense as we are in the carrier promotion stage. The phone is unlocked, has no T-Mobile branding (but it does have a T-Mobile app), and it does work overseas. For now, we'll have to wait and see, but all signs point to an eventual widespread release.
- What OS version does it ship with? The Idol 4S ships with Anniversary Update 14393.189 and updates directly to 14393.321.
- What VR content does it ship with? The Idol 4S ships with a VR launcher, which then lets you use a VR Gallery, Video, Store, Tube360, and games like Captain Fellcraft VR and Zombie VR.
- How is the camera? Much like the HP Elite x3 the Idol 4S has a better than average camera, but it falls well short of the Lumia 950 and XL. The front-facing 8MP camera with flash works quite well. There are no stability or crashing issues observed.
- Does it have an LED? Yes, there is a tiny white LED for charging near the front-facing camera. Again, it cannot be used for notifications.
- How is battery life? Battery life is better than the Lumia 950 and probably even the 950 XL, but falls short of the Elite x3's massive 4150 mAh battery. So far, the experience has been great.
- Are there any deal breakers? Putting aside what is mentioned above, which may be a deal breaker for some, no. The experience with this phone so far is outstanding. Great performance, beautiful display, slim, eye-catching design – there's little to criticize this phone over.
The Alcatel Idol 4S with Windows 10 launches on Thursday, November 10 exclusively on T-Mobile (US) for $469.99.
I'll be doing a full review on this phone next week. If you have questions, leave them in comments or jump into our Alcatel Idol 4S Forums to start chatting with others on this phone!
See the Idol 4S at T-Mobile
You can also read Android Central's review of the Android version of this phone. Do note that the Android variant has a slower processor (Snapdragon 652), less storage (just 32GB), and a weaker camera (16MP).
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.