With most of the attention directed towards “big” phone makers like Samsung, Sony, and HTC, it’s easy to forget that in the vast Android world there are many other manufacturers that have some fantastic devices on offer. Sure, some Chinese companies have really stepped up their game in an effort to make themselves known, but there still is a majority of smaller companies around the world that get lost in the mix. One of them is another Chinese company, Alcatel.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-15

Alcatel has been around for a while, failing to really make an impact in the Western world. But the company has upped the ante recently with some really good devices that all share a common feature, their affordable price point. Alcatel had a great showing at CES 2014, and one of the devices featured there was the Alcatel One Touch Hero, a large, 6-inch smartphone with some amazing features that the company hopes will make a mark in the ever growing phablet market.

Alcatel gets a lot of things right with the One Touch Hero, including a great design, a large and vivid display, and some impressive hardware, but as expected, some corner-cutting was needed to achieve that affordable price tag. The impact of these compromises on to the phone’s performance is just one of the things we take a look at in this review. Here’s our review of the Alcatel One Touch Hero!

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-15

The Alcatel One Touch Hero comes with a soft touch plastic construction, with a matte finish. While it definitely looks and feels a little more premium than a glossy plastic build, the one big drawback with this material is the fact that it’s a fingerprint magnet. You get an overall nice design with rounded corners and a slightly curved back that makes the phone very easy to hold. If you are looking for a comparison, the design language of the One Touch Hero will in some ways remind you of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-29

Considering that the Alcatel One Touch Hero features a 6-inch display, it is obviously a very large smartphone, so hoping for comfortable one handed use is definitely a stretch, literally. That being said, its dimensions are quite similar to that of the Galaxy Note 3, being just 1.4 mm wider and ever so slightly taller than the Samsung phablet. This is certainly an achievement that was possible because of the incredibly thin display bezels, especially when you consider that the display of the Hero is 0.3-inch larger than the Galaxy Note 3.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-48

As expected, the front of the device is dominated by the large display, and you get capacitive buttons right below the display, but they don’t really attract attention away from the screen. Turning over to the sides, you get the power button and volume rocker on the right side, with a microSIM card tray right above the button layout, with just the microSD card slot on the opposite side. On the back you’ll find the 13 MP camera with flash, the speaker grill, the stylus slot, and the 6-pin port for the smart cover, that we’ll talk about in more detail later.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-27

It might not be the most premium feeling phone you can get your hands on, but the build quality is solid and sturdy, and overall, this large phone doesn’t feel uncomfortable in the palm of your hand.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-12

The 1080p screen is bright and vivid, and, as we mentioned before, the 6-inch display is surrounded by very thin bezels, which really lets this large display shine through. With a pixel density of 367 ppi, the display delivers a crisp image, and text is sharp and easy to ready. This is an IPS LCD screen, and so the color reproduction is extremely accurate and it does not have that over saturation that you may find with some other devices, while still benefiting from great viewing angles.

The display practically melts into the device, since the bezels are so small, and since the front is pretty much distraction free. When you look at the phone while the screen is off, it’s actually quite difficult to figure out where the screen ends and the bezels begin.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-42

If there is one blemish on this otherwise stunning screen, it’s that it has a slight blueish tint to it, which might or might not be a problem for you. I do prefer a cooler tone, but I know that some people like warmer colors. Regardless of the color temperature, this display is very good looking, and easily holds its own even when compared to high-end devices out there.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-17

Under the hood of the Alcatel One Touch Hero is a quad-core MediaTek Mediatek MT6589 processor, clocked at 1.5GHz, coupled with the PowerVR SGX544 GPU and 2GB of RAM. Unfortunately, the MediaTek processor does have its issues with keeping the OS smooth, and you’ll occasionally see some stutters even while just flipping through the homescreens. Performance issues are evident when using an processor intensive app or game. This applies to multi-tasking as well, which is just a tad slower than I would have liked. Of course, it’s far from unusable, and might not even be that noticeable depending on what you use the phone for, but if you’ve used a device with the latest Snapdragon 800 and 801 processors, the difference is obvious.

You get 16GB of internal storage, which is further expandable via microSD card. Standard connectivity options are available, but when it comes to mobile networks, there is no LTE support which could be a letdown for some.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-22

The speakers are located on the back of the device, so while watching a movie or playing a game in landscape orientation, my hand covers the speakers. This is of course a common issue with a lot of smartphones, and it always makes me wonder how much better it would be if the speakers were located up front. That being said, these speakers get really loud, and the quality remains clear even at the maximum level. Calls on the One Touch Hero were crisp and clear, with no complaints from either end, and while using the speakerphone resulted in the sound being a bit tinny, it’s definitely not a dealbreaker.

And finally when it comes to the battery, the Alcatel One Touch Hero packs a large 3,400 mAh unit, and, with moderate use during a day that included using Bluetooth, light gaming, surfing the web, and tons of Hangouts messaging for a total of five hours of screen time, I was able to get 16 hours of battery life out of this device. With light use, there’s no reason why you couldn’t comfortably get at least a couple of days of use out of this device before needing to recharge.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-23

As we all know, the megapixel count is not the end all, be all when it comes to judging camera quality, and the chip and the optics play an equal, if not more important, role when it comes to image quality. That being said, the 13 megapixel rear camera on the Alcatel One Touch Hero comes out with very detailed images. At times, the camera images appear to be soft, but overall, the images are good enough to leave you satisfied.

The software on the camera is quite basic, and comes with a few presets and modes such as HDR, Panorama, Smile Detection, and Night and Sports modes. You get some advanced options as well, that allow you to control ISO levels, exposure compensation, resolution size, and more, which is great for the camera enthusiasts out there. There might not be a lot of features that are groundbreaking or going to change the way you take pictures, but the camera suite is serviceable overall, and you do get to play around with the settings if you want to grab the shot that you’re looking for.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-17

The Alcatel One Touch Hero comes with a few extra features that help to enhance the user experience, including Dual SIM slots, a stylus, and the Magic Flip Cover.

The Alcatel One Touch Hero comes with slots for two microSIM cards and the software works really well, allowing you to easily switch between the two SIM cards and manage each card independently. However, this is a dual-standby system, which means that the second SIM will be offline if you’re on an active call on the other. Dual SIM slots are a staple and helpful feature of devices in Asian markets, but how useful it’ll be in the US is certainly up for debate.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-18

One more piece of hardware the One Touch Hero offers is a stylus that is housed at the back of the device and easily slides in and out and locks into place. It is good addition to have for a device with such a large display, and can be used to take notes, draw pictures, and move things around. That said, there isn’t a large amount of software that takes advantage of or is optimized to be used with the stylus, so if you were hoping for a similar stylus experience to what you’d get with the Galaxy Note 3, you might be disappointed. More often than not, I found myself pulling the stylus out of the slot just for the sake it, and then returning it without really utilizing it.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-46

The most interesting addition is the Magic Flip Cover that comes included with the smartphone. As mentioned before, there is port at the back, which this Flip Cover is connected to. Besides protecting the display from scratches and accidental drops, it also works as a smart cover, that turns the display on and off when you open and close it. But what is unique about the Magic Flip Cover is that it has LEDs built into the case, which will show you your notifications, the time, or the weather on the flip cover itself.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-43

Unlike the Dot View Cover that is available for the HTC One (M8), in which the notification appears on the display and shines through the perforated flip cover, in the case of the Magic Cover, the display remains off, which certainly helps with saving battery life. The available notification options are somewhat limited for now, but this is still a wonderful addition that I found myself using quite a lot. Since it’s connected to the phone by just a magnet, the cover did come off a few times, but it wasn’t a very big issue.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-10

The One Touch Hero is running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, but it’s a heavily modified version of the software. It closely resembles Touchwiz in the way the home screen, the app drawer, and the transitions work, and you also get similar features such as picture in picture mode. These features do work very well, and it’s something that could make you more productive.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-37

The lock screen allows for quick access to the camera, phone, and messages, but you can change the apps that are accessible. It even has its own app store with around 20 applications, notable of which are a note taker that works well with the stylus, and a calculator.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero-40

All in all, the software is fine and its serviceable, but a part of me wishes I had a stock Android alternative, that might have even helped in providing a smoother and more snappy software experience.

Display6-inch IPS LCD display, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 367 ppi
Processor1.5 GHz quad-core MediaTek processor, PowerVR SGX544 GPU
Storage16 GB, expandable
Cameras13 MP rear camera with LED flash
2 MP front camera
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB 2.0
SoftwareAndroid 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Dimensions158.5 x 80.6 x 8.5 mm, 177.6 grams

So there you have it, our look at the Alcatel One Touch Hero. As mentioned in the introduction, Alcatel has got a lot right with the One Touch Hero. The large display with its very thin bezels is truly a beauty, the speaker, despite its positioning, is a surprisingly good performer, and the inclusion of extras such as the dual SIM slots, stylus, and the unique Magic Flip Cover do contribute to making this phone stand out.

But, some corners have been cut to keep the price at a reasonable point, and that really comes down to the underpowered processing package. You might be able to look past the stutters eventually, but considering what these phone aims to be, it is kind of disappointing.

That being said, considering its sub $400 price tag, the Alcatel One Touch Hero is a solid phone, and is certainly an affordable alternative to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Kevin Nether
I am just the average "Joe" who happens to be a video blogger and reviewer. My goal is to provide a easy way to tackle somewhat difficult tasks when it comes to technology. I strive to find the best/easiest/cheapest way in doing so. I also provide fun, exciting, honest, reviews for applications and hardware. I am also a huge sports fan, I enjoy watching, and playing pretty much anything with a ball.
  • Mohammed Azoz

    looks like an affordable way of a note like phablet …. But still mediaTek = poor performance + extreme epic *affordable* prices

    • Qualcomm still makes the best. That ‘Snap’iness is there :) But Mediatek devices are so much cheaper… Meanwhile, in China, manufacturers are asking Qualcomm to lower their prices…

      • Mohammed Azoz

        No company will reduce it’s prices if they getting super sales numbers + expanding worldwide like this … :D it’s times for the company to get even richer :D
        — The Bad effect jump to ppl faces … geeks Who can’t give 900$ for a smartphone With OUT TAX Or Vat ….
        — As long as the demand for SOCs keep going … thier prices will Stay on High … Exept if a company made a Quality + cheap + coool :P Socs *hope So * :D

      • Mohammed Azoz

        oh a Q: can u ask The Gentleman who made the review on the HTC desire 816 , Does it Have a notification light please ^_^ :D

    • Mike Reid

      In 2014, I would no longer call $400 or so “affordable”.

      I wouldn’t touch Mediatek at any price, and $400 is just crazy. Especially for a brand almost unheard of, with no name recognition, in North America at least.

      • It can be had for as low as $300, but yeah, the market is changing very, very quickly. It’s great for us as consumers.

    • Bruce

      And compared with the screen and battery the SoC is relatively cheap they could’ve easily put in a snapdragon without raising the price to much even if it was an older snap 600 or even a 400 would be better than this mediatek crap.

  • Guest123

    I could live with everything except no LTE.

  • Greg C

    alcatel took too long to release this model. the technology is already outdated.

  • MasterMuffin

    If someone said that that’s LG, I’d believe!

  • Zombie

    lol, OnePlus One.

  • Michael Samsara

    Super review Kevin; easy to stick with you through to the end. Your “Final Thoughts” really pulled it all together nicely.

    It is very odd that the people who design these things – whose livelihoods depend upon the saleability and competitiveness of their offerings somehow overlook obviously are glaring weaknesses that any self-respecting reviewer is going to see in a New York minute – like the weak processor with hiccuping performance, no LTE, etc.

    If their goal was to be a viable Note 3 or Note 4 wannabe, at a minimum those are the high notes they needed to hit.

    I am waiting for the Note 4. I expect it will probably cost around $600 – $700.00 +/- US but, given its ancestors’ pedigree, I feel confident it will at its moment of birth be probably the best thing out there; with no unpleasant surprises waiting for me and, able to yield even three or four years of reliable service at totally satisfactory performance levels.

    Alcatel, like the One Plus One, falls under the heading of “Close but no cigar.”

  • Matthew

    Does anybody know when (if at all) it will be coming to uk markets? Thanks

  • C Sab

    You’re way better off just getting the Note 3.

    • Tuấn Ankh

      or the Xperia Z Ultra, currently priced at $450 or less (if you’re in the US)

  • C Sab

    Anyone who thinks MP play an equal role to the sensor and lens when it comes to to image quality clearly doesn’t anything about photography. Sorry, but it has to be said.

  • Fang

    When I saw it in you tube I was fascinated like u guys too. It was selling at MYR 1299 inclusive of Magic Flip and Sidekick. Good deal right!!!! Wrong…..Here is why….1)The stylus doesn’t write well. I think the tip is too hard making it very difficult to write anything clear. At first I tot its the software but when I write with my finger it works very well. 2)Switch off the lock screen otherwise when you r playing game or in Facebook it keeps jumping into lock screen. 3)Sidekick sometimes doesn’t to pair with phone. (gimmick). Sent it for repair ( third party service centre appointed by Alcatel ) and they did nothing much accept upgrading the software. It didn’t fix any problem and when ask for a solution for issue no 1. They ask me to write harder. As for the rest Of the issues they said they have upgraded the software and that is the best they can do. Very dissapointed and don’t know what to do with the phone. For the same price (in Malaysia) there r plenty of other options eg. Sony Xperia T2 Ultra -6″ too without all the gimmicks ofcourse but considering all the issues above I think T2 is a much better deal.

  • Karmen Fiškuš

    you will get that phone in Europe, more precisely in Croatia?

  • thomas

    I have this phone for a month and the touchscreen is not as good as it should be..

  • Frank Bank

    I’m sorry but everyone knows I am a big Alcatel phone fan. especially this one the one touch hero if you haven’t touched this phone you need to go to touch it now I’m not kidding you. the phone is absolutely beautiful the flip case that allows you to see the notifications and not scratch up your screen is awesome is awesome can be. everyone wants to talk about that stupid OnePlus phone which is one of the worst and everyone wants to talk crap on mediatek but let me tell you this phone is beautifully designed who cares about the Bubbles that’s what I love about it it just blends and the screen is so smooth and shiny like a bald head on Robert Duvall I mean this phone really does work. I didn’t care for some of the bloatware but at the same time there’s a weather app on there I do like as far as the camera goes I’m not big on cameras but the camera did pretty good I shot a picture of a blue jay in a tree and they got it pretty good I mean it’s not like it’s going to be in a magazine but the picture was good enough streaming movies and music on this is just like turning me on your regular TV it is that fast I didn’t have any freezes lags hiccups or anything. they say Size Matters and in this case it might matter too much that’s the only bad thing on this phone is a little too big I couldn’t fit it in my front pocket and I don’t carry man purses or fanny packs zodiac signs and this instance is just a little too big but with that said Alcatel is well on its way