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Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S Smartphone Review

Best in class thanks to accessories? TThe One Touch Idol 4S is the new flagship smartphone from Alcatel and is shipped with many accessories. However, a closer look reveals some drawbacks.

For the original German review, see here.

The Chinese manufacturer TLC wants its Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S to compete with other premium smartphones. However, this goal is not supposed to be realized with pure performance, but comprehensive features instead. This includes the box, for example, which is also a VR headset, as well as a decent headset from JBL. The performance of the 5.5-inch smartphone is on an (upper) mainstream level. Besides a Snapdragon 652 SoC from Qualcomm, users get 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB internal storage, which can be expanded via microSD.

Alcatel charges 449 Euros (RRP/~$474) for the Idol 4S, so it faces strong competitors such as the new OnePlus 3T, the Honor 8 or the ZTE Axon 7. All of them managed very good scores in our reviews. Another interesting comparison device is the more expensive Blackberry DTEK60, which is also made by TLC and basically uses an identical chassis.

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Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S (One Touch Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
3072 MB 
Display
5.5 inch 16:9, 2560 x 1440 pixel 534 PPI, capacitive, 10 Touch points, AMOLED, glossy: yes
Storage
32 GB eMMC Flash, 32 GB 
, , 21 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm headset, Card Reader: microSD up to 200 GB, NFC, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: G-Sensor, E-Compass, Hall-Sensor, Gyroscope, USB-OTG, WiFi-Direct, SAR: 1.134 W/kg
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4/ac = Wi-Fi 5), Bluetooth 4.2, GSM (850/900/1800/1900), UMTS (1/2/5/8), LTE Cat.4 (B1/3/7/8/20/28A, 150 Mbps Download, 50 Mbps Upload), Dual SIM, LTE, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 6.99 x 153.9 x 75.4 ( = 0.28 x 6.06 x 2.97 in)
Battery
3000 mAh Lithium-Polymer
Operating System
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Camera
Primary Camera: 16 MPix (flash, autofocus)
Secondary Camera: 8 MPix (front flash, 84° wide angle)
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo at the front (2x 3.6 Watts), Keyboard: virtual, Keyboard Light: yes, modular power adapter, USB-cable, SIM-Tool, JBL headset, screen protector, protective phone case (clear), VR googles, Google-Apps, VR-Apps, AntiVirus, Waves MaxxAudio, WPS Office, Xender Data Transfer, 12 Months Warranty, fanless
Weight
149 g ( = 5.26 oz / 0.33 pounds), Power Supply: 64 g ( = 2.26 oz / 0.14 pounds)
Price
449 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

The case of the Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S is made of metal and glass. The metal frame becomes tapered towards the sides, so the two glass elements on the front and the rear look like "framed". The frame also stands out a little at the top and the bottom of the glass, which makes room for two front-facing speakers. There are three color options, but only the color of the metal frame differs. Besides our silver test unit, you can also get it in gold or dark gray. We have already mentioned that the chassis is basically identical to the more expensive BlackBerry DTEK60.

The Alcatel can easily keep up with the rivals in terms of quality. The stability is excellent, because neither pressure nor twisting attempts are a problem for the big smartphone. We cannot criticize the build quality either, and the well-integrated card slot on the left side is also made of metal. Only the volume rocker is rather wobbly. One visual drawback of the glass back is its sensitivity to dirt. You will quickly have a smudgy smartphone if you do not clean it regularly.

The Idol 4S is a rather large smartphone, even within our comparison group. This is a result of the previously mentioned "protruding" frame, but also the large bezels above and below the actual screen. It is the slimmest smartphone at 7 mm (~0.3 in), but you have to consider the small camera bump at the rear as well. It is also the lightest phablet here at around 150 grams (~5.3 oz).

Size Comparison

153.9 mm / 6.06 inch 75.4 mm / 2.97 inch 7 mm / 0.2756 inch 165 g0.3638 lbs153.9 mm / 6.06 inch 75.4 mm / 2.97 inch 6.99 mm / 0.2752 inch 149 g0.3285 lbs152.7 mm / 6.01 inch 74.7 mm / 2.94 inch 7.35 mm / 0.2894 inch 158 g0.3483 lbs151.7 mm / 5.97 inch 75 mm / 2.95 inch 7.9 mm / 0.311 inch 175 g0.3858 lbs145.5 mm / 5.73 inch 71 mm / 2.8 inch 7.45 mm / 0.2933 inch 153 g0.3373 lbs

Connectivity

Inside the One Touch Idol 4S is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 SoC with a total of eight cores and the Adreno 510 GPU, which is supported by 3 GB of RAM. The internal storage capacity is 32 GB, but you can only use around 20 GB after the update of all preloaded apps. The storage can be expanded via microSD (up to 200 GB) and the card can be formatted either as portable or internal storage.

The Micro-USB port at the bottom supports only the 2.0 standard and cannot transfer videos. However, it  supports USB-OTG for easy connections with storage devices and peripherals. Connections can also be established via Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.2, and NFC. An FM radio is also included.

Software

The operating system of the Idol 4S is Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with security patches as of September 2016. According to initial information, an update to Android 7 Nougat was supposed to arrive by the end of the year, but this has not been the case so far. There are only small differences compared to standard Android, but there are some additional apps on the device (can be deleted if necessary).

The function bar on the lock screen is one handy feature, which gives direct access to the call history, timer or the settings, for instance. The smartphone can also be activated and even locked via a double tap on the screen. The navigation is very smooth in general. A notification LED is located above the display, but it cannot be configured.

Home screen 1/2
Home screen 1/2
Home screen 2/2
Home screen 2/2
Preloaded apps 1/4
Preloaded apps 1/4
Preloaded apps 2/4
Preloaded apps 2/4
Preloaded apps 3/4
Preloaded apps 3/4
Preloaded apps 4/4
Preloaded apps 4/4
System information
System information
Storage space after the update of all apps
Storage space after the update of all apps

Communication and GPS

We can find more drawbacks in the communication department, because the LTE module supports only Cat.4 (150 Mbps downstream, 50 Mbps upstream) and it does not cover many frequencies either (see specifications at the top for full list). However, we did not have any problems in the metropolitan T-Mobile network. LTE is supported by both Nano-SIM slots, but you will have to forgo the microSD when you use two SIMs.

The smartphone does support all common WLAN standards, including the fast 802.11ac, but the performance in our standardized WLAN test with the router Linksys EA8500 is really bad. Only 35 Mbps (send & receive) are easily beaten by the rivals. We cannot explain the results; maybe there are compatibility issues with the router. Subjectively, the performance was at least okay in combination with an AVM Fritz!Box 7490.

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
ZTE Axon 7
Adreno 530, 820 MSM8996, 64 GB eMMC Flash
337 MBit/s ∼100% +841%
OnePlus 3T
Adreno 530, 821 MSM8996 Pro, 64 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
257 MBit/s ∼76% +618%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
Adreno 510, 652 MSM8976, 32 GB eMMC Flash
35.8 MBit/s ∼11%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
OnePlus 3T
Adreno 530, 821 MSM8996 Pro, 64 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
313 MBit/s ∼100% +784%
ZTE Axon 7
Adreno 530, 820 MSM8996, 64 GB eMMC Flash
298 MBit/s ∼95% +742%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
Adreno 510, 652 MSM8976, 32 GB eMMC Flash
35.4 MBit/s ∼11%

The smartphone can only locate the position via GPS (A-GPS). This was not possible indoors, but the position was quickly found outdoors (~15 seconds) and the result was very accurate at 3 meters (~10 ft). We also check the performance of the test model on a bicycle ride and compare the results with the professional navigation device Garmin Edge 500. The Idol 4S takes some smaller "shortcuts", and the overall track length is slightly shorter, but there should not be any problems in practice.

Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S: Overview
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S: Overview
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S: Crossing
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S: Crossing
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S: Turning point
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S: Turning point
Garmin Edge 500: Overview
Garmin Edge 500: Overview
Garmin Edge 500: Crossing
Garmin Edge 500: Crossing
Garmin Edge 500: Turning Point
Garmin Edge 500: Turning Point

Telephone Functions and Voice Quality

The phone app is the standard Android app and is therefore easy to use. However, the quality of the calls is not very good. Voices generally sound very tinny and rather distorted on our side of the call. This is also confirmed by the recipient and there were even some dropouts. The problems continue when you use the hands-free function or the headset, so there is still room for improvements.

Cameras

Picture front camera (click for original)
Picture front camera (click for original)

An 8 MP camera with an 84° wide angle lens and an additional flash is sitting at the front. The flash helps in low-light situations, but unfortunately, the overall quality of the pictures is never really convincing. Colors appear quite pale and the details are never really sharp, even in good lighting conditions.

The main camera uses a 16 MP sensor. The colors are rather too saturated, but the results actually look pretty good in practice. However, we can once again notice blurry edges when we zoom in on the sample pictures and the test chart. The camera is good enough for snapshots in bright environments, but you cannot see much in low-light scenarios (scene 3).

Videos can be recorded in 4K (3840x2160 pixels, ~38 Mbps, 26 fps), but the default setting is Full HD (1920x1080 pixels, ~18 Mbps, 28 fps). 4K recordings are fortunately not darker compared to Full HD, but we would have liked to see a higher frame rate option for the latter.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
click to load images

Accessories and Warranty

We usually focus on the contents of the box in this section, but the box of the Idol 4S is actually a VR headset. Both the design and the quality are reminiscent of the Gear VR from Samsung, but there are some functional differences. Probably the biggest difference is the absence of a sharpness control. The headset is not compatible with glasses, so this can be a problem. The controls are also simplified, because there are only two buttons on the headset (select & back). The VR experience it suffers slightly from the limited field of view. Subjectively, the smartphone display is quite far away and you can clearly see the black edges from the goggles, so there is no immersive feeling.

Besides the usual accessories such as the power adapter (10 watts, modular), the USB cable and some service leaflets, we also get a decent headset from JBL, a protective phone case, and a screen protector.

The warranty period is 12 months. Please see our Guarantees, Return Policies & Warranties FAQ for country-specific information.

Input Devices and Handling

The handling of the Idol 4S is supposed to be improved by the Boom button on the right side. It can be assigned with several functions, but we had some issues in practice. Because of the position, you expect a power button or the camera trigger. We sometimes accidentally took a screenshot instead of a picture, for example. The Android controls are onscreen buttons, even though there would have been enough room for sensor buttons beneath the display.

The capacitive touchscreen recognizes up to 10 inputs simultaneously and is very precise, but also pretty sensitive. We sometimes triggered actions, even though we only scrolled through the menus. Alcatel has installed SwiftKey as well as the standard Android keyboard. It supports all common features, but you can also install another model from the Play Store.

Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard landscape mode
Keyboard landscape mode

Display

Subpixel array
Subpixel array

Alcatel uses a 5.5-inch AMOLED panel with the native resolution of 2560x1440 pixels, so the content is very sharp (534 PPI). Subjectively, we really like the picture and the measurement results of the test model are also good. The luminance is particularly impressive, because we can measure up to 627 nits on a pure white picture, and even up to 760 nits with an even distribution of bright and dark contents. It is therefore not surprising that the maximum luminance is only available via the brightness sensor; the manual control ends at 353 nits. These results are superior to the rivals.

The black value is 0.0 cd/m² because dark pixels are not illuminated, so the contrast ratio is infinite in theory. PWM flickering at all brightness levels is also typical for an AMOLED panel.

631
cd/m²
628
cd/m²
650
cd/m²
621
cd/m²
625
cd/m²
659
cd/m²
624
cd/m²
639
cd/m²
672
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 672 cd/m² Average: 638.8 cd/m² Minimum: 6.14 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 92 %
Center on Battery: 625 cd/m²
Contrast: ∞:1 (Black: 0 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 5.9 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6
ΔE Greyscale 3.8 | 0.64-98 Ø6.2
Gamma: 2.27
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
AMOLED, 2560x1440, 5.5
Honor 8
IPS, 1920x1080, 5.2
ZTE Axon 7
AMOLED, 2560x1440, 5.5
OnePlus 3T
Optic-AMOLED, 1920x1080, 5.5
BlackBerry DTEK60
AMOLED, 2560x1440, 5.5
Screen
-16%
-9%
-30%
-6%
Brightness middle
625
451
-28%
328
-48%
421
-33%
590
-6%
Brightness
639
443
-31%
334
-48%
430
-33%
608
-5%
Brightness Distribution
92
93
1%
88
-4%
84
-9%
88
-4%
Black Level *
0.4
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
5.9
5.4
8%
4.6
22%
7.1
-20%
6.6
-12%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
14.6
9.9
32%
14.7
-1%
15.3
-5%
14.3
2%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
3.8
6.7
-76%
2.8
26%
6.8
-79%
4.3
-13%
Gamma
2.27 97%
2.33 94%
2.29 96%
2.23 99%
1.88 117%
CCT
7196 90%
8262 79%
6612 98%
7866 83%
6966 93%
Contrast
1128

* ... smaller is better

CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMAN: Colorspace
CalMAN: Colorspace
CalMAN: ColorChecker
CalMAN: ColorChecker
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps

You can adjust the color temperature in the settings and also select a natural mode, which will reduce the rich colors that are also typical for AMOLED panels. Our measurements determine decent results. The grayscale in particular is not far from the ideal value (<3) with an average DeltaE-2000 deviation of 3.8 compared to the sRGB reference color space. The colors show bigger deviations, especially red (14.6) and green (10), and the colors are too saturated in general.

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 235.8 Hz ≤ 100 % brightness setting

The display backlight flickers at 235.8 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 100 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 235.8 Hz is relatively low, so sensitive users will likely notice flickering and experience eyestrain at the stated brightness setting and below.

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9331 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
6 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 3 ms rise
↘ 3 ms fall
The screen shows very fast response rates in our tests and should be very well suited for fast-paced gaming.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 4 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (24.8 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
18 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 7 ms rise
↘ 11 ms fall
The screen shows good response rates in our tests, but may be too slow for competitive gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 12 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (39.5 ms).

Thanks to the enormous luminance, it is no problem to use the One Touch Idol 4S in very bright environments. Only direct light sources should be avoided, since they can cause annoying reflections on the glossy screen. The AMOLED panel provides very wide viewing angles, but you can see the typical blue hue from some angles.

Outdoors (with reflections)
Outdoors (with reflections)
Outdoors
Outdoors
Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

Alcatel dispensed with a modern high-end SoC and equipped the Idol 4S with the Snapdragon 652 from Qualcomm, which is still manufactured in a 28-nm process. It is certainly not slow with eight CPU cores (4x Cortex-A72 @1.8 GHz, 4x Cortex-A53 @1.4 GHz), but the competitors just have faster SoCs. This is also supported by our benchmarks, where the processor of the Idol 4S is usually at the bottom of the ranking.

Graphics calculations are handled by the Adreno 510 (550 MHz), which supports all features of the faster Adreno 530 (such as Vulkan & OpenGL ES 3.1). The performance of the GPU is slightly better than the previous high-end GPU Adreno 330. The graphics card is usually just beaten by the Mali-T880 MP4 in the Honor 8, but the Adreno 530 of the other two rivals OnePlus 3T and ZTE Axon 7 is much faster. The benchmark 3DMark Sling Shot 3.1 Unlimited crashed repeatedly.

AnTuTu v6 - Total Score
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
159866 Points ∼100% +91%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
134232 Points ∼84% +61%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
122524 Points ∼77% +47%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
94671 Points ∼59% +13%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
83564 Points ∼52%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
75533 Points ∼47% -10%
Geekbench 4.0
64 Bit Multi-Core Score
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
5481 Points ∼100% +60%
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
4236 Points ∼77% +24%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
3867 Points ∼71% +13%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
3427 Points ∼63%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
2511 Points ∼46% -27%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
Points ∼0% -100%
64 Bit Single-Core Score
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
1881 Points ∼100% +28%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
1726 Points ∼92% +17%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
1475 Points ∼78%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
1280 Points ∼68% -13%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
1204 Points ∼64% -18%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
Points ∼0% -100%
3DMark
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Physics
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
2482 Points ∼100% +39%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
1800 Points ∼73% +1%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
1788 Points ∼72%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
1783 Points ∼72% 0%
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
1728 Points ∼70% -3%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
1328 Points ∼54% -26%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Graphics
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
2837 Points ∼100% +274%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
2528 Points ∼89% +233%
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
2418 Points ∼85% +219%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
818 Points ∼29% +8%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
759 Points ∼27%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
745 Points ∼26% -2%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1)
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
2500 Points ∼100% +187%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
2265 Points ∼91% +160%
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
2221 Points ∼89% +155%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
961 Points ∼38% +10%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
870 Points ∼35%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
856 Points ∼34% -2%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Physics
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
2587 Points ∼100% +44%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
1800 Points ∼70%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
1793 Points ∼69% 0%
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
1452 Points ∼56% -19%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
1106 Points ∼43% -39%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
1099 Points ∼42% -39%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Graphics
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
4619 Points ∼100% +262%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
4466 Points ∼97% +250%
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
3310 Points ∼72% +160%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
1275 Points ∼28%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
1252 Points ∼27% -2%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
1112 Points ∼24% -13%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
2698 Points ∼100% +98%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
2666 Points ∼99% +96%
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
2577 Points ∼96% +89%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
1363 Points ∼51%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
1342 Points ∼50% -2%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
1273 Points ∼47% -7%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
22426 Points ∼100% +104%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
21822 Points ∼97% +98%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
20408 Points ∼91% +85%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
15531 Points ∼69% +41%
OnePlus One
801 MSM8974AC, Adreno 330
13167 Points ∼59% +19%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
11532 Points ∼51% +5%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
11020 Points ∼49%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
34494 Points ∼100% +61%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
33037 Points ∼96% +54%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
24310 Points ∼70% +14%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
22157 Points ∼64% +4%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
21668 Points ∼63% +1%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
21398 Points ∼62%
OnePlus One
801 MSM8974AC, Adreno 330
18074 Points ∼52% -16%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
30810 Points ∼100% +74%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
29651 Points ∼96% +68%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
23319 Points ∼76% +32%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
20235 Points ∼66% +14%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
18127 Points ∼59% +2%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
17695 Points ∼57%
OnePlus One
801 MSM8974AC, Adreno 330
16692 Points ∼54% -6%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
91 fps ∼100% +194%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
88 fps ∼97% +184%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
41 fps ∼45% +32%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
31 fps ∼34%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
30 fps ∼33% -3%
OnePlus One
801 MSM8974AC, Adreno 330
28 fps ∼31% -10%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
fps ∼0% -100%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
59 fps ∼100% +168%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
53 fps ∼90% +141%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
43 fps ∼73% +95%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
31 fps ∼53% +41%
OnePlus One
801 MSM8974AC, Adreno 330
29 fps ∼49% +32%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
22 fps ∼37%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
fps ∼0% -100%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
46 fps ∼100% +207%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
39 fps ∼85% +160%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
19 fps ∼41% +27%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
15 fps ∼33%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
14 fps ∼30% -7%
OnePlus One
801 MSM8974AC, Adreno 330
12 fps ∼26% -20%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
45 fps ∼100% +384%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
28 fps ∼62% +201%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
19 fps ∼42% +104%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
14 fps ∼31% +51%
OnePlus One
801 MSM8974AC, Adreno 330
12 fps ∼27% +29%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
9.3 fps ∼21%
GFXBench 3.1
off screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Offscreen
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
32 fps ∼100% +240%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
31 fps ∼97% +230%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
10 fps ∼31% +6%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
9.6 fps ∼30% +2%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
9.4 fps ∼29%
on screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Onscreen
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
32 fps ∼100% +581%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
16 fps ∼50% +240%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
11 fps ∼34% +134%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
9.4 fps ∼29% +100%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
4.7 fps ∼15%
PCMark for Android - Work performance score
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
6735 Points ∼100% +39%
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
5664 Points ∼84% +17%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
4970 Points ∼74% +2%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
4964 Points ∼74% +2%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
4852 Points ∼72%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
4589 Points ∼68% -5%
OnePlus One
801 MSM8974AC, Adreno 330
3571 Points ∼53% -26%
BaseMark OS II
Web
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
1009 Points ∼100%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
994 Points ∼99% -1%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
963 Points ∼95% -5%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
927 Points ∼92% -8%
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
891 Points ∼88% -12%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
843 Points ∼84% -16%
OnePlus One
801 MSM8974AC, Adreno 330
661 Points ∼66% -34%
Graphics
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
4763 Points ∼100% +201%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
4631 Points ∼97% +193%
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
4444 Points ∼93% +181%
OnePlus One
801 MSM8974AC, Adreno 330
2382 Points ∼50% +51%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
1703 Points ∼36% +8%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
1635 Points ∼34% +3%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
1581 Points ∼33%
Memory
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
2556 Points ∼100% +37%
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
1954 Points ∼76% +5%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
1861 Points ∼73%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
1642 Points ∼64% -12%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
1489 Points ∼58% -20%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
798 Points ∼31% -57%
OnePlus One
801 MSM8974AC, Adreno 330
587 Points ∼23% -68%
System
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
3952 Points ∼100% +69%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
3307 Points ∼84% +41%
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
3130 Points ∼79% +34%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
2897 Points ∼73% +24%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
2582 Points ∼65% +10%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
2338 Points ∼59%
OnePlus One
801 MSM8974AC, Adreno 330
1768 Points ∼45% -24%
Overall
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
2218 Points ∼100% +37%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
2165 Points ∼98% +33%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
2141 Points ∼97% +32%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
2034 Points ∼92% +25%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
1623 Points ∼73%
BQ Aquaris X5 Plus
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
1297 Points ∼58% -20%
OnePlus One
801 MSM8974AC, Adreno 330
1131 Points ∼51% -30%

Alcatel has not installed its own browser and uses Google Chrome instead, in this case in version 54. The performance situation is better for the test model, because it can beat the ZTE Axon 7 in some tests. All four models are pretty close here in general and the subjective browsing experience is convenient.

Octane V2 - Total Score
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
10692 Points ∼100% +19%
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
9798 Points ∼92% +9%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
9473 Points ∼89% +5%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
9005 Points ∼84%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
8062 Points ∼75% -10%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
3401.9 ms * ∼100%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
3096.5 ms * ∼91% +9%
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
2979 ms * ∼88% +12%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
2880 ms * ∼85% +15%
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
2719.3 ms * ∼80% +20%
JetStream 1.1 - Total Score
Honor 8
Kirin 950, Mali-T880 MP4
64.046 Points ∼100% +23%
BlackBerry DTEK60
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
55.21 Points ∼86% +6%
OnePlus 3T
821 MSM8996 Pro, Adreno 530
54.526 Points ∼85% +5%
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
652 MSM8976, Adreno 510
52 Points ∼81%
ZTE Axon 7
820 MSM8996, Adreno 530
44.754 Points ∼70% -14%

* ... smaller is better

The internal eMMC storage with a capacity of 32 GB falls behind the competition as well. The results are actually not bad, but the rivals are just faster, especially with small files.

We check the performance of the card reader with our reference card from Toshiba (Exceria Pro M401), which manages transfer rates of up to 95 and 80 MB/s (read/write) according to the manufacturer. Our tests determine decent results of 75 and 56 MB/s, so it is no problem to expand the storage capacity.

Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
32 GB eMMC Flash
Honor 8
32 GB eMMC Flash
ZTE Axon 7
64 GB eMMC Flash
OnePlus 3T
64 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
BlackBerry DTEK60
32 GB eMMC Flash
AndroBench 3-5
14%
67%
212%
7%
Sequential Write 256KB SDCard
56.25
23.59
-58%
51.34
-9%
58.5
4%
Sequential Read 256KB SDCard
74.63
53.68
-28%
78.39
5%
78.77
6%
Random Write 4KB
14.45
31.5
118%
16.22
12%
74.39
415%
15.1
4%
Random Read 4KB
36.53
34.16
-6%
121.07
231%
123.57
238%
43.1
18%
Sequential Write 256KB
80.81
119.25
48%
150.92
87%
165.3
105%
79
-2%
Sequential Read 256KB
231.85
247.46
7%
406.49
75%
436.43
88%
257.4
11%

Games

We have already mentioned that the Adreno 510 supports modern APIs such as Vulkan 1.0 and OpenGL ES 3.1. The performance of the GPU sometimes struggles with very demanding titles due to the high native display resolution. One example is “Asphalt 8: Airborne”, which is not completely smooth on high details. Gaming is still a good experience on the Idol 4S, which is a result of the precise controls and the two front-facing stereo speakers in particular.

Modern Combat 5
Modern Combat 5
Asphalt 8: Airborne
Asphalt 8: Airborne

Emissions

Temperature

The upper part of the smartphone warms up quite a bit under load. It is not uncomfortable, but up to 42 °C (~108 °F) is definitely perceptible, especially when you play games. The high temperatures are also a result of the steady SoC performance, because we cannot determine any throttling under sustained load with the GFXBench Battery Test.

GFXBench Battery Test ES 2.0
GFXBench Battery Test ES 2.0
Max. Load
 42.1 °C
108 F
40.8 °C
105 F
36.8 °C
98 F
 
 40.5 °C
105 F
41.2 °C
106 F
36.5 °C
98 F
 
 38.9 °C
102 F
38.9 °C
102 F
35.7 °C
96 F
 
Maximum: 42.1 °C = 108 F
Average: 39 °C = 102 F
35.3 °C
96 F
39.2 °C
103 F
39.8 °C
104 F
34.3 °C
94 F
36.5 °C
98 F
39 °C
102 F
33.9 °C
93 F
36.4 °C
98 F
36.7 °C
98 F
Maximum: 39.8 °C = 104 F
Average: 36.8 °C = 98 F
Power Supply (max.)  33.3 °C = 92 F | Room Temperature 21.2 °C = 70 F | Voltcraft IR-260
(-) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 39 °C / 102 F, compared to the average of 33.1 °C / 92 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.
(±) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 42.1 °C / 108 F, compared to the average of 35.5 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22.4 to 51.7 °C for the class Smartphone.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 39.8 °C / 104 F, compared to the average of 34 °C / 93 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 26.5 °C / 80 F, compared to the device average of 33.1 °C / 92 F.

Speakers

The two speakers at the front (2x 3.6 watts) can be very loud at almost 89 dB(A) and create a very good sound for a smartphone. Bass is not available due to the construction, but the sound is otherwise pretty rich and there is even a certain stereo effect. The software Waves AudioMaxx can improve the sound with different profiles when you attach headphones. The provided headset from JBL also leaves a pretty good impression, but the small modules sit very deep in the ear canal, which is probably not ideal for all users.

Pink Noise test
Pink Noise test
Waves MaxxAudio
Waves MaxxAudio
dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2031.636.12525.427.13125.3324032.933.95033.640.36331.635.88028.431.61002727.212520.837.91602250.620021.351.325020.858.131521.260.940019.467.450019.570.163017.773.880017.971.9100017.875.8125017.377.1160017.475200016.776.2250017.279.5315018.280.6400017.979.1500017.678.2630017.776.6800017.873.21000017.968.41250018.165.11600018.260.8SPL3088.9N1.377.6median 17.9median 71.9Delta1.38.926.128.726.12625.22625.42725.425.829.325.825.226.125.223.123.823.133.430.833.436.13336.135.428.935.434.724.734.743.324.943.349.71949.753.319.153.356.520.456.559.318.159.363.617.563.664.71764.768.815.968.869.114.569.170.713.770.772.614.372.675.813.475.874.213.674.275.513.375.574.312.974.371.812.771.871.81371.872.212.772.266.61366.65512.75584.427.584.456.9156.9median 66.6median 14.5median 66.69.83.69.8hearing rangehide median Pink NoiseAlcatel One Touch Idol 4SOnePlus 3T
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (88.92 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 24.2% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (11.8% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 3.1% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5.4% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(±) | higher highs - on average 5.6% higher than median
(+) | highs are linear (4.4% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (18.3% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 7% of all tested devices in this class were better, 4% similar, 89% worse
» The best had a delta of 13%, average was 25%, worst was 44%
Compared to all devices tested
» 32% of all tested devices were better, 6% similar, 62% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

OnePlus 3T audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (84.35 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 24.6% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (7.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 4.6% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (4.6% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(±) | higher highs - on average 7.1% higher than median
(+) | highs are linear (2.8% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (20.5% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 17% of all tested devices in this class were better, 10% similar, 73% worse
» The best had a delta of 13%, average was 25%, worst was 44%
Compared to all devices tested
» 45% of all tested devices were better, 9% similar, 47% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Frequency Comparison (Checkboxes select/deselectable!)

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Our consumption measurements show very low values for the Alcatel One Touch 4S. The idle and average load results in particular, are good. Only maximum load will result in little more than 10 watts, so the provided 10-watt PSU is sufficient, but does not have a lot of headroom to charge the battery under load.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.01 / 0.19 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.76 / 1.02 / 1.04 Watt
Load midlight 4.4 / 10.4 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
3000 mAh
Honor 8
3000 mAh
ZTE Axon 7
3250 mAh
OnePlus 3T
3400 mAh
BlackBerry DTEK60
3000 mAh
Power Consumption
-31%
3%
-37%
-12%
Idle Minimum *
0.76
0.78
-3%
0.64
16%
0.61
20%
0.7
8%
Idle Average *
1.02
1.89
-85%
0.84
18%
1.77
-74%
1.13
-11%
Idle Maximum *
1.04
2.02
-94%
0.87
16%
1.81
-74%
1.2
-15%
Load Average *
4.4
5.28
-20%
6.02
-37%
6.67
-52%
6.52
-48%
Load Maximum *
10.4
5.44
48%
10.45
-0%
10.98
-6%
9.75
6%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Runtime

Power-saver mode
Power-saver mode

The battery of the One Touch Idol 4S is one of the smallest within the comparison group with a capacity of 3000 mAh. Thanks to the decent consumption values, the runtimes should still be sufficient in practice. We check that with our WLAN script, which visits different websites. The luminance is adjusted to 150 nits, so the results are comparable.

The runtime of almost 7 hours is on par with the ZTE Axon 7, but both the Honor 8 as well as the OnePlus 3T last more than an hour longer. We usually had no problems to manage a full business day during our review period. A power-saver mode is also available and can automatically be activated when the battery capacity drops to 15 or 5%. A full battery charge takes about 1:45 hours, but 50% are already available after 30 minutes.

Battery Runtime
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3 (Chrome 54)
6h 55min
Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S
3000 mAh
Honor 8
3000 mAh
ZTE Axon 7
3250 mAh
OnePlus 3T
3400 mAh
BlackBerry DTEK60
3000 mAh
Battery Runtime
WiFi v1.3
415
499
20%
411
-1%
494
19%
779
88%

Pros

+ great chassis
+ very bright AMOLED screen
+ good speakers
+ comprehensive accessories (VR googles)
+ 4K video recording

Cons

- only micro-USB 2.0
- slow WLAN
- comparatively low performance
- gets quite warm
- hybrid slot (dual-SIM or microSD)
- mediocre voice quality
- no fingerprint scanner

Verdict

In review: Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S. Test model courtesy of Alcatel Germany.
In review: Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S. Test model courtesy of Alcatel Germany.

Can the Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S compete with the rivals? Not quite. The smartphone can actually justify its price with the stylish chassis, the good display, and the comprehensive accessories, but the competitors have fewer drawbacks. The Idol 4S suffers slightly from the mediocre voice quality, the bad front camera and the comparatively bad results in the performance and runtime tests.

A good mainstream smartphone with a great chassis and bright display, but the competition is just slightly better.

The VR headset is more of a nice gimmick, and the functionality is limited compared to Samsung's Gear VR. The advertised Boom button cannot really convince us in practice either. Alcatel's One Touch Idol 4S is not a bad choice, but there are better devices in the price segment of up to 450 Euros (~$475).

Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S - 12/29/2016 v6(old)
Andreas Osthoff

Chassis
90%
Keyboard
70 / 75 → 94%
Pointing Device
94%
Connectivity
40 / 60 → 67%
Weight
92%
Battery
89%
Display
84%
Games Performance
42 / 63 → 67%
Application Performance
54 / 70 → 77%
Temperature
90%
Noise
100%
Audio
60 / 91 → 66%
Camera
67%
Average
75%
85%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

Pricecompare

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Alcatel One Touch Idol 4S Smartphone Review
Andreas Osthoff, 2016-12-30 (Update: 2019-04-21)
Andreas Osthoff
Andreas Osthoff - Senior Editor Business
I grew up with computers and modern consumer electronics. I am interested in the technology since I had my first computer, a Commodore C64, and started building my own PCs after that. My focus here at Notebookcheck is the business segment including mobile workstations, but I also like to test new mobile devices. It is always a great experience to review and compare new products. My free time is filled with a lot of sports, in the summer mainly on my bike.