Skip to main content

Alcatel Idol 4 review

A phone with a lot to offer, but without the battery to back it up

Battery life

  • Relatively tiny 2610mAh battery
  • Struggles to make it through a day of moderate usage

The Alcatel Idol 4 comes with a non-removable 2610mAh battery, which really isn’t big enough for a modern Android phone. Not when you compare it to the likes of the Moto G4 and the Vodafone Smart Ultra 7, which come with 3000mAh and 2960mAh units respectively.

Yes, their screens are a little bigger, and thus require a little extra power, but not enough to justify such a large drop in battery capacity.

Unfortunately, that shortfall plays out in terms of real world performance. A 20 minute game of Dead Trigger 2 prompted a 14% drop in battery life, while a similarly proportioned spell of VR (where we ran through a few 360 videos and simple games) resulted in an alarming 20% drop.

Meanwhile, the standard TechRadar battery test, which involves running a 90 minute 720p video with the screen brightness cranked right up, ate up 27% of the battery. That’s a massive 10% more than both the Moto G4 and the Vodafone Smart Ultra 7.

Even with lighter usage and less intensive tasks, the Idol 4 struggled. By the end of a day of moderate usage - a few phone calls, a normal level of emails and texts, and a little light web browsing - it was gasping for some juice.

Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 technology means that you can potentially grab 60% of the charge in just half an hour. Believe me - you’ll be leaning on this feature way more than you should.

Camera

  • Decent close-ups
  • Strong HDR mode

We were pleasantly surprised by the 13MP main camera on the Alcatel Idol 4. Normally, the camera is one of the first components to suffer in an affordable phone. It’s arguably the one area where it’s still impossible to hide how much you paid for your phone.

You won’t fool a hardened iPhone 7 or Samsung Galaxy S7 user with the snaps you take on the Idol 4, but we can imagine a few mid-range phone users being thrown for a loop. We captured some genuinely decent shots, and at an appreciably quick rate.

In general, colors were well balanced and accurate, though several shots of a tub of flowers failed to keep the brighter flowers on the periphery of the image in check.

The camera’s limitations were also exposed when it came to handling bright skies and dark foregrounds simultaneously, which is a pretty tricky task for even the best smartphone snappers. But even then, we found the HDR mode to be unusually effective for an affordable phone - though you do have to activate it manually.

We were impressed by how close we could get to our subjects for some nice macro shots with plenty of bokeh - especially coming from a phone that struggled with such a thing at twice the price in the Huawei Nova+.

Another reason we found shooting with the Alcatel Idol 4 so pleasant was its camera interface. Like many Android manufacturers, Alcatel has taken a page out of Apple’s photo book - and it’s a wise decision.

The simple layout, black menu, and simple scrolling mode dial makes pointing and shooting a doddle. There’s also a Manual mode that lets you tweak ISO, shutter speed, white balance, and focus settings.

Plus, there’s a self-explanatory Panorama mode, while Micro-video lets you shoot and edit simple square videos on the fly - provided you have ample storage available. Fyuse, as discussed, lets you capture brief 3D Live Photo-like snippets of your subject. Neat enough, but a gimmick we never really found all that useful.

As surprisingly good as the Idol 4’s main camera is, its 8MP front camera doesn’t quite live up to the billing. We found selfies to be noisy and particularly poor in less than optimal lighting.

Camera samples

Image 1 of 8

Close up shots are pleasingly assured.

Close up shots are pleasingly assured.

Click here to see the full resolution image

Image 2 of 8

Nicely detailed subject and effective bokeh.

Nicely detailed subject and effective bokeh.

Click here to see the full resolution image

Image 3 of 8

The central, muted flowers look great, but those bright flowers at the edge look weird.

The central, muted flowers look great, but those bright flowers at the edge look weird.

Click here to see the full resolution image

Image 4 of 8

Indoors shot of some food shows accurate colors, though it’s a little noisy.

Indoors shot of some food shows accurate colors, though it’s a little noisy.

Click here to see the full resolution image

Image 5 of 8

Auto mode struggles with dynamic range.

Auto mode struggles with dynamic range.

Click here to see the full resolution image

Image 6 of 8

However, the HDR mode is surprisingly decent.

However, the HDR mode is surprisingly decent.

Click here to see the full resolution image

Image 7 of 8

Reasonable landscape, but needs a little HDR magic.

Reasonable landscape, but needs a little HDR magic.

Click here to see the full resolution image

Image 8 of 8

Good detail on the individual bricks.

Good detail on the individual bricks.

Click here to see the full resolution image