While there are several Android smartphones out there, how many of those devices have premium specifications and a price tag of $249 off-contract? The Alcatel Onetouch Idol 3 is a new smartphone hitting the market – available May 21, 2015 – that you may want to consider if you are on a budget and looking for a new phone.

Idol 3 main

Alcatel’s latest smartphone comes fully unlocked and ready to be used on any GSM network supporting LTE and HSPA+. It sports a 5.5-inch full HD IPS display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 coming in at 401ppi – pixels per inch. This display is great when it comes to color, sharpness, and viewing ability inside and outside environments.

Idol 3 box

Specification wise, the Idol 3 has great specs considering the price tag:

  • Octa-Core 64-bit 1.5ghz Snapdragon 615
  • Adreno 405 GPU
  • Dual Band Wi-fi 802.11n
  • Bluetooth 4.1 LE
  • NFC
  • 1.2-watt dual JBL front facing speaker
  • 13MP rear facing camera with Sony IMX214 sensor
  • 8MP front facing wide-angle camera
  • 16GB storage internal storage
  • Expandable with a microSD supporting up to 128GB
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 2910 mAh battery

Idol 3 microSD


Inside the box, you get a wall charger, JBL branded in-ear headphones, micro-USB cable for charging and syncing, and a SIM ejector tool. The JBL in-ear headphones is a good touch because it is something you don’t see even with many flagship smartphones. The earphones have a built-in mic along with a flat cable design to avoid tangling.

JBL Idol 3


While the Idol 3 isn’t made from metal or aluminum like those high-end flagship devices from Apple, Samsung, HTC etc., it doesn’t scream cheap at all. It has a sturdy design that looks like it belongs with those higher priced flagship devices. It has a plastic back cover with a satin like texture along with metallic trim on the edges making it feel more of a premium device.


Alcatel says the Idol 3 has been built with what the company calls Technicolor Color Enhance technology to produce vivid cinematic colors, and the result is an awesome 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 display that is great for your videos, games, and using all other apps.

Idol 3 display

Viewing angles were pleasant, as image quality remained true even when I titled the phone. Both inside and outside viewing weren’t an issue. I’d like to add, when it came to brightness, this screen exceeded brightness when turning all the way up. It is very bright, which is never a bad thing having the ability to go so bright when needed. Especially if you are shooting photos or videos with the camera.

OS And Features:

The Idol 3 comes with Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. It is very close to stock Android with a minimal skin on top. This is satisfying because many manufacturers seem to skin and bloat their devices with unnecessary apps. Alcatel’s device doesn’t seem to have that issue.

Physically, the placement of the power button on the Idol 3 is not the best. It sits on the left hand-side close to the top of the device and when using, it is a struggle trying to reach it. There is a fix to this – well, I’d say it is a fix. It features a double-tap screen feature helping the power/sleep button situation. Double-tap the screen to wake, and double-tap again while screen is on to lock. It is a useful feature when operating the device one handed.

Another neat feature is reversibility. Due to the dual front-facing speakers and the microphones being placed on top and bottom of the device, you can enable the reversible feature and use the phone right side up or upside down. So when it comes to taking calls, it doesn’t matter which way you pick up the device. Place the phone’s top or bottom speaker to your ear, and the device will switch to which ever speaker is right side up. This is something I haven’t seen on any other smartphone.

Pretty neat.


I was quite surprised by the clear quality of music from the Idol 3’s front-facing dual JBL speakers. It was a great experience when it came to viewing movies, videos, and listening to music. Very loud, but distinct and rounded sound I’ll have to say.

Idol 3 speaker

Idol 3 speaker 2


The rear-facing 13MP camera with Sony IMX214 sensor shoots 1080p video and takes decent photos. I saw many photos being too saturated. When it came to low-light situations, it was not the best out there. It also features different camera modes such as time-lapse, HDR, panoramic and manual mode.

If you like taking selfies, the wide-angle 8MP front camera will help you shoot the perfect Instagram photo. It shoots 1080p video as well. Though, the camera on the Idol 3 isn’t the best, it is not the worst. (See sample photos below)

Photo Samples:

These photo samples are absolutely untouched. Click for a larger view.

Outdoor Samples:

outdoor 1

outdoor 2

outdoor 3

Indoor Samples:

indoor 1

indoor 2

indoor 3

indoor 4

Battery Life:

During my testing, the 2910mAh battery seemed to do the job and last me throughout the day. Going from light to heavy use throughout the day of taking phone calls, text, social media, and watching videos, battery life seemed to vary. I had the battery last in between 7-14 hours depending which tasks I was doing.

Idol 3 back

Final Thoughts:

Overall, the Idol 3 is definitely affordable for it being an unlocked smartphone. It may not beat the flagship devices out there right now, but for $250 it is something to consider if you are balling on a budget and need a smartphone.

It has a bright, accurate and vibrant display. Battery life is great and will last you through a day of normal use. The dual front-facing JBL speakers are a great addition especially if you like watching movies or listening to music on your smartphone.

For our full video review on this budget smartphone, check out the video embedded below:

RP Rating: 8/10

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