Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra 6033 review

Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra 6033 review

We know Alcatel mainly from low-end and midrange phones. But at the beginning of this year, the company presented four high-end phones, including the then thinnest smartphone in the world; the Idol Ultra.

A smartphone with a thickness of only 6.45 millimeters. Phones may be thin these days and Alcatel wants to be at the forefront of this. This was reasonably successful because with 6.45 mm it was the thinnest phone of the moment at the time of his announcement. In the meantime that honour goes to the Huawei Ascend P6, but that should not spoil the fun.

Besides thin, the One Touch Idol Ultra features a 4.7-inch AMOLED HD display, an 8 megapixel camera and a 1.2 GHz dualcore processor. The installed Android version is 4.1 Jelly Bean. And although it's not wrong, it's just not enough to compete with a HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4. But combined with the very modest price tag, it should be possible to lure potential buyers away from their smaller brothers such as the Sony Xperia L and LG Optimus L7 II. It is also an alternative to last year's flagships such as the Galaxy S III and Xperia T.

What's with the device?

When it comes to appearance and content of the packaging of the appliance, Alcatel One Touch is certainly not inferior to the larger manufacturers. In the box we find, besides the device, a microUSB cable with adapter plug and an in-ear headset with adapter cable to connect it to the USB input. In addition to the quick start guide, a screen protector is also included as an unexpected extra. In order to get to know the device better before you start using it, you can take a look at the site that the manufacturer specially developed for it.


The design of the Idol Ultra is little sparkling or exuberant but the device is well put together and feels durable. The unibody is largely responsible for this. Around the front of the unit is a shiny plastic edge. Above the screen there is a white LED light between the camera and the ear loudspeaker that lights up for notifications or while charging.


Below the screen there are three touch-sensitive keys with the functions we know from standard Android. Somehow they are placed in such a way that they are easy to miss. What's more, the lights go out quickly and irregularly.


Respectively left and right on the device are the volume buttons and the slot for the SIM card. This time not a tray for the SIM card but a slot where you have to press it in. Without very long nails or a tool, it is impossible to insert or remove it.


The rounded sides and back consist of one piece finished with soft-touch layer for extra grip. At the back, the camera protrudes quite a bit, so the chrome edge is particularly vulnerable to scratches. On a flat surface, the camera rests on this and is not stable.

Despite its thinness, the unibody design makes it feel very solid. The only downside is that the SIM-card cover stays open quite easily. And as you may have noticed by now, due to its thin profile, there was no room for a 3.5mm headset jacket.


With relative simplicity it is feasible to fill up 24 hours with the Idol Ultra. In most cases there will even be a few hours of slack left. We certainly did not expect this from such a thin device with such a size screen. To achieve this, there are a number of functions that help the device. First of all there is the CPU energy saving mode. This limits the CPU performance in order to save the battery and lower the temperature of the device. We turned it on constantly and did not notice any serious adverse effects on the speed of the device.


In addition to the automatic screen brightness, there is also a function to automatically adjust the brightness according to the composition of the image on the screen. Although the description of this function refers to the LCD brightness, the screen is really an AMOLED panel. We have seen such a function on Samsung devices before.

Call quality

As a telephone, the Idol Ultra functions in terms of ergonomics more than satisfactorily. The phone has a pleasant size, lies well in the hand and the loudspeaker can be quite loud. Nevertheless, the voice of the conversation partner sounds a little dull or silenced. The interface during a conversation provides access to the necessary functions.


However, the layout of the interface does not make it easy to answer an incoming call smoothly at once. The dragging motion you have to make from the left side of the screen to the inside is on the long side and sometimes requires an extra effort.


As said, the Idol ultra is equipped with a PenTile AMOLED display. This means that the colours are almost jumping out at you and the contrast is very good. At the same time, there is a bit of a blue-grey haze hanging over the image. The resolution is 1280 x 720 pixels and with a 312 pixels per inch on the 4.7 inch screen, the image is quite sharp. The automatic screen brightness is a bit erratic and the image is not always easy to read in the sun, but otherwise we have no complaints.


If you look at the lockscreen on the Idol Ultra, you may expect a radically altered interface. And the first time we looked around, we thought it looked a bit like Samsung's Touchwiz. On closer inspection, however, the interventions are not very drastic and mainly concern differences in colour or detail. That is why the experienced eye can still recognize the standard Android interface. As far as we are concerned, Alcatel One Touch deserves a pat on the back for this implementation.


The lockscreen really has its own functionality with different shortcuts. Although unfortunately no notifications appear on it. The user has five start screens at his disposal through which he can scroll around. In the menu, most of the icons are neat and tidy. By dragging the notification bar downwards, a whole row of links for different settings will appear.


On the Idol Ultra, like on other phones, a three-dot menu key does not appear in an app when it needs it. Instead, you need to press and hold the Task Manager button. This is a creative but not immediately obvious solution. To open Google Now, the same kind of action is required. This time the home button must be held down.


Alcatel One Touch has, apart from a few details, changed little to the standard Android phonebook. That means you have tabs for groups, all contacts and favorites. Beneath the favorites is a list of the contacts you call regularly. That's great because the phone application doesn't have a smartdial.


The tricky part is that you can't switch between your phonebook and phone application or vice versa. Although the phonebook syncs with Facebook almost effortlessly, it doesn't seem to be able to get the high-resolution profile photos. In addition, you can't set it to display only contacts with a phone number.


Alcatel One Touch has equipped the Idol Ultra with its own TouchPal keyboard. Unfortunately we can't say that we're very broken of it. The keyboard doesn't look spectacularly different at first sight, nor does it seem to function in any drastic way. Above the keyboard there's a spiteful bar with extra functions but they don't really have any added value. With what is called Alcatel One Touch Curve you can form words by dragging over the keyboard.


The word prediction when using Curve is worthless. It works better with normal typing, but automatically inserting spaces and capital letters is very fickle. Luckily, thanks to Android you have the possibility to enable the standard keyboard or download a whole new keyboard from the Play Store.

When setting up an email account you have the choice between Googlemail IMAP, Hotmail, GoogleMail POP, Hotmail, live and others. So not very current or extensive and with accounts that do not include these, he has difficulty automatically retrieving the settings.


In principle, all connection possibilities of the Idol Ultra can be switched on or off using the shortcuts in the status bar. The Idol Ultra has no support for 4G networks or NFC, but otherwise you will not be short of it because WiFi-b/g/n, WiFi-direct, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS are simply present. At least, that's what we thought. Only after a few tens of minutes we managed to get a GPS fix after which we were able to determine our position. So asking for directions is quicker.


The Idol Ultra has two browsers. Chrome from Google and a browser that looks a lot like the old standard Android browser. The annoying thing about two browsers on one phone is that in the beginning you have to indicate with some regularity whether you want to perform an action with one or the other application. In the end, we chose the 'old' browser. This was nice and fast and had plenty of all the required functions. It supports browsing in multiple tabs and a lot of settings can be adjusted. A peculiarity is that text areas are only automatically adjusted to the image when zooming by double tapping.



The Idol Ultra is equipped with an 8.0 megapixel camera and that results in a pimple on the back of the thin camera. Such a big camera is nice, but the performance must be a bit satisfactory. Starting with the interface. As far as we are concerned, this is well taken care of and nicely organized. All necessary setting options are available. Via a drop-down menu, grid, shooting mode, white balance, exposure and scene mode can be selected. Further on in the settings, location, shutter sound, timer, size and ISO can be changed.

Taking multiple pictures in quick succession is done simply by touching and holding the shutter release button. Strangely enough, there seems to be no button in the camera's interface to switch to the camera on the front of the camera.

The pictures you take outside with the Idol Ultra look great. On the AMOLED screen, the colors on the photos are on the bright side. Contrast and details are well taken care of but focus is not always in order. Indoors or with less light, colors remain beautiful but there is a lot of noise in the image.

In video mode, time-lapse interval, white balance, exposure, and scene mode can be set. Added to this are location, shutter sound, microphone, EIS, duration, quality, and no streaks. During filming, the camera continues to correct the focus. This is a nice addition, but it is a bit slow. Zooming goes with jerky jumps and also the image itself is quite jerky.

Existing programs

On the Idol Ultra the following applications are installed as standard: Calendar, Alcatel help, AVG antivirus, Barcode scanner, file manager, calculator, Chrome, cloud backup, Deezer, downloads, Evernote, Facebook, gallery, sound recorder, voice search, Google+, Hangouts, setup wizard, clock, LED torch, Maps, Media share, movie studio, music, news and weather, notes, OfficeSuite, OI shopping list, One Touch radio, One Touch manager, PicSay, Play Music, Radio, Shazam, system updates, tasks, tethering, TouchPal keyboard, video player, weather and YouTube.

There are no very spectacular applications, but it's quite a large amount. Maybe a little too much. It happens to manufacturers more often and Alcatel One Touch makes the same 'mistake'; installing extra apps for functions that are already present. For an internet browser this may still be understandable, but a person will rarely use the apps Evernote, notes, OI shopping list and tasks at the same time. The Idol Ultra also has a lot of overlap in terms of multimedia. Take a look at the apps Deezer, Music, One Touch radio and Play Music. It's not entirely a manufacturer's fault but a better selection wouldn't hurt. Especially when the internal memory of the phone can't be expanded.


As one of the few contemporary Android phones, the Idol Ultra comes with a game as standard. This is a demo version of Shark Dash that looks a bit like Angry Birds. Unfortunately, the purchase procedure for the full game does not run through the Play Store but you will have to enter all your credit card details yourself.


The Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra is not an eye-catching device in terms of its appearance or specifications. But the combination of very reasonable specs with a very friendly price tag does make it interesting. Of course there are devices on the market with more powerful processors, better cameras or more spectacular displays. However, thanks to its build quality and endurance, the Idol Ultra will be a great companion for a lot of people at least for the coming year.

Most of the drawbacks and disadvantages we mentioned in this review can be specific to our test device or can be solved with a software update. Until then it is useful to have a little knowledge of Android so you can customize the Idol Ultra to your personal wishes. For example with an alternative keyboard or a specific mail application.

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