Hands on: Alcatel Idol 4 review

A surprisingly nifty phone with a lot to offer

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

A very competent design from Alcatel with a strong phone for the money underneath. Could this be the surge of a new player in the smartphone game?

For

  • Clever design
  • 4 way speakers

Against

  • Cheaper feel to chassis
  • Mid range CPU

This is a flash hands-on review to give you the chance to see what the phone is all about as early as possible. Stay tuned, as we'll be expanding and upgrading this review very shortly with more info.

I'm still a bit confused about the Alcatel Idol 4. The manufacturer has rebranded, and in the process refined, its phones impressively.

Alcatel Idol 4 review

The Idol 4 is a sleek, metal-and-glass phone that has a distinctly midrange price of around €279 – and it's using decent Qualcomm chips and has a decent camera too.

Alcatel Idol 4 review

One of the main selling points here are the four-way speakers, pointing forwards and backwards at the top and bottom. They're tuned by audio brand JBL, and offer some impressive sound, whether the phone is placed face down or held in the hand while you watch a movie.

Alcatel Idol 4 review

The Idol 3 had a clever trick: you could use the phone either way up and the screen would flip to fit you.

That's back again, and this time you can double-tap the screen to wake it – so you don't need to worry about tapping the peskily-placed power key (which is under your thumb knuckle when the phone is upside down.

Alcatel Idol 4 review

Another addition is the Boom Key, which performs a variety of functions, from showing you a weather animation on the home screen to enhancing audio during music playback, or creating a collage of your photos when in the gallery.

Alcatel Idol 4 review

The camera wasn't particularly mind-blowing in tests, but it was swift to take a picture and had a decent level of detail for a phone of this price.

Alcatel Idol 4 review

The screen of the Idol 4 is bright and clear, despite being only Full HD (unlike the QHD of its bigger Idol 4S brother). The 5.2-inch size fits well in the hand, and overall it's a slim and lightweight phone, despite feeling a little on the cheap side of the smartphone spectrum.

Early verdict

It's hard for any brand to transition from a middle-of-the-pack choice to something that's well known and respected in its own right.

However the Alcatel Idol 4 is a phone that could help the brand do just that – as consumers become more enamoured of the idea of spending less on their handsets, choices like the Idol 4 become a lot more attractive.

Will it be a market leader? No. But it certainly won't harm the prospects of the brand making headway from its current position as 10th-biggest smartphone brand in the world.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.