Mobile World Congress has become synonymous with big name releases, and this year is no different, with both Samsung and LG vying for the spotlight with their upcoming flagship releases. However, one of the highlights of last year’s show was the rise of the premium mid-range category, with devices offering fantastic specifications and features, but at affordable price points. One such device was the Idol 3 by Alcatel (previously known as Alcatel OneTouch), and the company is looking to bring even more to the table with its successor this time around. We are here at MWC 2016, and this is first look at the Alcatel Idol 4 and Idol 4S!

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The Idol 3 from last year was a solid offering, but there were a few variants of the device available featuring different screen sizes and specifications, which was quite confusing. Alcatel has made things a lot easier this year as far as the naming system is concerned with the Idol 4 and Idol 4S, with the latter being the higher-end of the two.

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If you thought that the Idol 3 was a great phone, you’ll absolutely love what the Idol 4 and Idol 4S have to bring to the table, with some drastic improvements made across the board. Starting with the design, the latest smartphones from Alcatel feature metal and glass unibody designs that result in a much more premium look and feel. Both these smartphones are also quite thin, with a thickness of just 7 mm, that certainly helps with the handling experience, especially with the larger Idol 4S.

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As mentioned, the Idol 4S is the more high-end of two, and obviously comes with better specifications all around. Starting with the display, the Idol 4S comes with a 5.5-inch AMOLED display with a Quad HD resolution, which looks absolutely gorgeous, and is great to see make its way over to the mid-range category. Of course, the display experience available with the Idol 4 is nothing to scoff at either, with it featuring a 5.2-inch AMOLED display with a 1080p resolution, which is still quite impressive, given how affordable this device is expected to be.

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Under the hood of the Idol 4S is the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor, backed by the Adreno 510 GPU and 3 GB of RAM, which seems to be the processing package of choice to power the the ever growing “premium mid-range” category this year. On the other hand, the Idol 4 comes with an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, backed by the Adreno 405 GPU and also 3 GB of RAM.

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16 GB and 32 GB are the only storage options for the Idol 4 and Idol 4S respectively, but both devices come with expandable storage via microSD card by up to 512 GB, so storage is certainly not going to be concern with either device. The Idol 4 comes with a 2,610 mAh battery, while the Idol 4S packs a larger 3,000 mAh unit. Of course, further testing will be required to see how the battery life with these devices hold up, but the good news is that fast charging capabilities are available with both. While the Idol 4 can be charged fully in just an hour, the battery of its larger sibling will require an additional half hour.

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When it comes to the camera, the Idol 4S features a 16 MP rear camera, while the Idol 4 comes with a 13 MP rear shooter, along with both including 8 MP front-facing units. Once again, more testing will be required, but the respective camera packages are, at least on paper, quite impressive.

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One of the biggest highlights of their predecessor was the dual front-facing speaker setup, and with the Idol 4 and Idol 4S, Alcatel has taken things to a whole other level. Of course, the impressive front-facing speakers do make a return here, but what is impressive is the availability of an additional speaker on the rear, which means that regardless of how the phone is positioned, you will be able to enjoy high-quality audio through the very loud and clear JBL speakers.

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The power button is on the right side of the device, but this isn’t your run of the mill power button, but instead, what Alcatel calls the Boom key. We weren’t able to experience all that the Boom key is capable of in our short time with the device, but it does serve a multitude of functions, including launching the camera from standby mode, shuffling through photos in the Gallery, automatically optimizing the audio experience for enhanced loudness and clarity, or create a really cool parallax effect on the home screen to see things like the current weather information.

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On the software side of things, both devices run Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Alcatel’s UI on top. Like previous iterations, the user interface maintains a stock-like look and feel, allowing for a general fluidity throughout, and overall clean software experience, but while adding enough features to differentiate itself.

So there you have it for this first look at the Alcatel Idol 4 and Idol 4S! With the Boom key, the high-quality audio setup, and stunning displays, these smartphones already have a lot going for them, but to further sweeten the pot, Alcatel is also including a pair of JBL earphones and VR headset with them. Not only will you be getting great phones, that should continue to be quite affordable, but the inclusion of a couple of cool accessories really top off the experience.

Stay tuned as we continue to bring you more great coverage from MWC 2016!

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