Alcatel Uses VR To Augment Idol 4, Idol 4S Smartphones’ Appeal

Even in the smartphone sea of sameness, one doesn’t need to take extreme measures to be noticed, necessarily. Case in point is Alcatel’s latest Idol smartphones, the Idol 4 and Idol 4S, whose packaging doubles as a VR viewer.

360-Degree Content

Granted, this is no Gear VR (it may not even be Google Cardboard), but if it's a gimmick, at least it's a fun one. Alcatel didn’t state definitively whether this packaging-as-VR-viewer meets the Google Cardboard spec, but it said you can pull content from the LittlStar network via the preloaded Onetouch VR Store app.

This follows a recent trend of 360-degree content and “VR lite” content that outlets such as the New York Times  and Associated Press are offering users. This is actually, arguably, one of the most exciting aspects of the burgeoning VR content landscape, as it provides users a chance to create, submit and share their own experiences, in 360 degrees. Note that both YouTube and Facebook support 360-degree video.

Boomification

The other “extra” selling point of the Idol phones is the “Boom Key,” which is a way to unlock more capabilities on the devices. Alcatel’s Chief Marketing Officer, Dan Dery, delightfully described this feature in a press release thusly: “The Boom Key boom-ifies everything, from the sound to photos to gaming.”

There are actually six boomifiable features on the Idol 4 phones, and they include the camera, gallery, videos, music, games and a 3D Parallax effect on both the homescreen and the weather widget. Basically, the Boom Key is a way to goose any of the above with a single button press.

For example, you can use the Boom Key to switch the camera into burst mode, whip up and share a photo slideshow, and add video effects. You can also use it to apply special features in games; the example Alcatel offered was releasing a nitro in a racing game. In collaboration with Waves, the Boom Key punches up the bass and clarity of the audio across “all media,” too.

Specifications

Even if you consider all of the above completely extraneous, the specs on these phones are solid. The Idol 4S runs on a Snapdragon 652, and the Idol 4 has a Snapdragon 617, both of which are midrange chips, but they both have 3 GB of RAM. Onboard storage is a bit of an issue, though, as the Idol 4 has just 16 GB. However, the Idol 4S offers a reasonable 32 GB, and both handsets support up to 512 GB of microSD storage.

The rear cameras of both handsets are satisfactory (16MP for the Idol 4S [1080p@60fps] and 13MP for the Idol 4 [1080p@30fps]), but the front cameras on both are a surprising 8MP.

Alcatel has not divulged pricing or availability.


Alcatel Idol 4SAlcatel Idol 4
Display5.5” QHD AMOLED (1440 x 2560), 16M color display, On-cell Touch Screen Panel, Capacitive multi-touch 10 points5.2” FHD (1080 x 1920), IPS LTPS 16M color display, Capacitive multi-touch 10 points
SoCQualcomm Snapdragon 652 (MSM8976)Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 (MSM8952)
CPUOcta Core (4x ARM Cortex-A72 @ 1.8 GHz, 4x ARM Cortex-A53 @ 1.4 GHz) Octa Core (4x ARM Cortex-A53 @ 1.7 GHz + 4x ARM Cortex-A53 @ 1.2 GHz)
GPUAdreno 510 GPU
Adreno 405 GPU
RAM3 GB3 GB
Storage32 GB / up to 512 GB via microSD 16 GB / up to 512 GB via microSD
Battery3000 mAh2610 mAh
Front Camera8MP w/ flash, 84-degree viewing angle, Parallax selfie, real-time face beautification8MP w/ flash, 84-degree viewing angle, Parallax selfie, real-time face beautification
Rear Cameras-16MP w/flash, Touch focus, 6P Lens, Instant shot (0.6s), Auto HDR, Camera & Video zoom, Photo editor, Panorama, Geo tag
-Video Playback: 4K@30fps, 1080p@60fps; Video Capture: 2K@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p@120fps
-13MP w/flash, Touch focus, 6P Lens, Instant shot (0.6s), Auto HDR, Camera & Video zoom, Photo editor, Panorama, Geo tag
-Video Playback: 1080@30fps; Video Capture: 1080@30fps
Network-X8 LTE modem
-GSM 850/900/1800/1900
-UMTS 1/2/5/8
-HSPA+ Downlink: 42 Mbit/s / Uplink 5.76 Mbit/s
-FDD LTE B1/3/7/8/20/28A
-4G LTE Cat 6: Downlink 150 Mbit/s / Uplink 50 Mbit/s
-X8 LTE modem
-GSM 850/900/1800/1900
-UMTS 1/2/5/8
-HSPA+ Downlink: 42 Mbit/s / Uplink 5.76 Mbit/s
-FDD LTE B1/3/7/8/20/28A/38/40
-4G LTE Cat 6: Downlink 150 Mbit/s / Uplink 50 Mbit/s
SIMNano SIMNano SIM
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, NFC, Micro USB 2.0, Bluetooth 4.2Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, NFC,
Micro USB 2.0, Bluetooth 4.2
Misc.-Boom Key
-Packaging doubles as VR viewer
-Waves and JBL audio
-Stereo 3.6 W speakers
-Hi-Fi surround (headset)
-Quick Charge, G-sensor, FM Radio, Handsfree, Flight mode, Flip to mute, Dual-mic noise cancellation, HD Voice
-Boom Key
-Packaging doubles as VR viewer
-Waves and JBL audio
-Stereo 3.6 W speakers
-Hi-Fi surround (headset)
-G-sensor, FM Radio, Handsfree, Flight mode, Flip to mute, Dual-mic noise cancellation, HD Voice
OSAndroid  6.0 MarshmallowAndroid  6.0 Marshmallow
Size153.9 x 75.4 x 6.99 mm147 x 72.5 x 7.1 mm
ColorsGold, Dark Gray, Rose Gold and Metal SilverGold, Dark Gray, Rose Gold and Metal Silver


Update, 2/21/16, 3:50 am PT: Snapdragon 652 specs corrected.

Seth Colaner is the News Director for Tom's Hardware. Follow him on Twitter @SethColaner. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.

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7 comments
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  • Valantar
    Your specs are off. The Snapdragon 652 is a dual cluster A72 +A53, and the GPU is the Adreno 510, not 506. Given that this is the second phone ever to sport A72 cores (the first being the Huawei Mate 8 with the HiSilicon Kirin 950 (although that is clearly superior due to being made on TSMC's 16nm FF+ process, not 28nm HPm like the 652)), and it seems to be a midrange-ish phone, this is pretty exciting.
  • DXsocko007
    Alcatel ony makes garbage. I was in the cell business and Alcatel would send us stuff and give us prizes if we sold so man of their phones. I refused sell one. Always super cheap non reliable and they dont last. I still think it's great they keep trying but they should just get out of the market
  • Valantar
    Your specs are off. The Snapdragon 652 is a dual cluster A72 +A53, and the GPU is the Adreno 510, not 506. Given that this is the second phone ever to sport A72 cores (the first being the Huawei Mate 8 with the HiSilicon Kirin 950 (although that is clearly superior due to being made on TSMC's 16nm FF+ process, not 28nm HPm like the 652)), and it seems to be a midrange-ish phone, this is pretty exciting.