Alcatel OneTouch has turned a new leaf in 2014. In the past, the TCL-affiliated manufacturer has been known to crank out a dozen or more cheap smartphones at European trade shows with no apparent focus on quality, but after a recent adjustment in brand strategy, we’re looking at the company in a completely new light. The frequency of new phones hasn’t changed much, but Alcatel is working hard to change its reputation by adding a few high-end devices to its portfolio, such as the Idol Alpha which was launched locally a few weeks ago at a glamour event in Sandton. Taking the lead as the flagship of the company’s premiere Android lineup, the Alpha is a 5-inch beaut that appears to live up to its name, complete with aluminum build (that the local GM couldn’t stop raving about) and a new type of transparent material on the top and bottom. It’s a phone that took us a bit off-guard, so join us after the break (and the gallery in-between) to read more of my review.
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The Alpha is the most premium Alcatel OneTouch phone I’ve ever played with, both in terms of look and feel. Simply put, it’s stunning, sleek and stylish. It features a 3D aluminum frame, which company reps tell us is “achieved with three dimensional forming with 3D diamond cut on the chamfer.” They claim that this approach — instead of going for the standard boxy style — is the first of its kind, and whether that’s true or not, it’s still done quite well. To add to the phone’s overall durability, the Alpha has a metallic back and the front is covered with an oleophobic coating (for enhanced protection against scratches, smudges and other superficial damage to the screen) and a slab of Dragontrail Glass, a lesser-known Corning competitor that aims to protect smartphones with the same kind of scratch resistance and toughness.
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Another element of the Alpha’s design that truly shines is the translucent edges on top and bottom. We’re told that it’s made of a special transparent material that isn’t plastic or glass, though reps wouldn’t get more specific. It’s not just there for its looks, though we must admit it adds a splash of elegance to the device; rather, the bottom edge doubles as a notification bar, lit up by three LEDs that sit on the end of the physical chassis. It’s designed in such a way that the phone glows underneath to give the appearance that it’s floating; after all, who doesn’t want a special glowing phone that floats in mid-air?
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The specs aren’t top-of-the-line, unfortunately, but we have a feeling that most people won’t mind — as long as price isn’t a negative factor, which Alcatel confirmed at a firm R5999 (R5499 at CelluCity). The Alpha runs Android 4.2.2 with a special UI designed by Alcatel and features a 4.7-inch 720p IPS display, a 1.2GHz quad-core SoC, 1GB RAM, 16GB internal storage with no microSD support and a 2,000mAh battery. It has DC-HSPA+ 42Mbps connectivity, but no LTE. The Alpha started to roll on 7 July in Mzansi and will expand to countries in Africa. For all that style, class and friendly usage, we’d highly recommend you stopping by your local retail stores for a visit. For the Idol Alpha, of course.
All images by Papi Mabele