- Limited carrier availability
- Limited app availability
- Weak low-light camera performance
- Questionable resolution for VR use
- No NFC support
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a contender for the top of the Windows 10 phone rankings. With a quick glance at the specs, it’s clear that the Alcatel Idol 4S with Windows is set to shuffle the rankings. But does the phone have what it takes to hold its own at the high-end of the price brackets?
Reviewers have been testing out this latest release and reviews are rolling in! Let’s see what’s good and bad about this new VR-ready device.
The Alcatel Idol 4S with Windows might look familiar. That’s because the phone already has an Android version available. There’s also the latest BlackBerry DTEK60 sporting the same design. But the Windows version isn’t a simple variant—It’s a whole new phone.
Fortunately, the metal and glass design is still classy looking and a hit with reviewers. Pocket Lint noted, “Those glass surfaces have subtle curves towards their edges, so [they] look elegant, but it's not quite enough to stop the phone feeling like a big shiny block in your palm.”
One area where reviewers had a few issues as the fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone. Many noted that it was hard to find with its small size and lack of haptic feedback. Many also noted delays in fingerprint recognition. NeoWin said, “The fingerprint scanner on the IDOL 4S is satisfactory. It can feel a bit slow when using it to wake the device, although it certainly feels faster if you're already on the lock screen.”
Flip the phone over and it continues to look the same as it’s Android cousin. However, while the phone used a 5.5-inch AMOLED screen, the resolution is only 1080p. Pocket Lint was pleased with the screen overall, but noted, “On a phone this large the Full HD resolution does start to look a little bit rough around the edges compared to some other flagships.”
The big problem with the display came when reviewers snapped on the VR headset included with the phone. While the fit was great, and the effect worked, most reviewers mentioned pixelation issues and a lack of supported VR apps on the Windows Store. Pocket Lint said, “The 1080p screen isn't sharp enough, while the motion and animations aren't quite smooth enough to make it a pleasant experience. It's more a fun additional feature than a genuinely good experience.”
While the screen loses a few points compared to the Android version, the processor gets a significant boost. The Windows version sports a 2.15GHz quad-core Snapdragon 810 processor and 4GB of RAM—though only 3.5GB are accessible by the phone. Performance reviews were mostly positive in both normal operation and Continuum mode. PC World declared, “I could stack and stack applications in the background without any apparent slowdown, and everything I threw at the Idol 4S ran fluidly.”
With 64GB of storage and microSD support, there’s zero worry about having enough room for your favorite apps and media either.
Reviewers were torn on the 21MP rear camera. While they all noted it was an acceptable camera—most felt they lacked the detail and low-light performance of previous Windows models. Windows Central summed up opinions well, saying, “While I think the rear shooter is okay for regular users, it will be hard to convince Lumia fans otherwise. That's a shame for what is otherwise a fantastic phone.”
However, there was no debate about the battery life on the phone. The 3,000mAh battery lasted every review a full day with ease. A full charge clocks in under 2-hours thanks to USB Type-C and QuickCharge 3.0 support. There’s little to worry about keeping your phone running throughout the day.
Overall, reviews are positive. While the phone carries the same potential pitfalls as other Windows phones, it offers a powerful flagship option with a few VR goodies at a fair price. NeoWin’s verdict reflected other reviews, saying, “For [the price], you're getting an elegantly designed Windows phone with a vibrant display, powerful internals, and a bundled VR headset. If you were looking for a new Windows phone, this is it.”
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