Ever since I saw the announcement for the Alcatel Idol 4s With Windows 10 Mobile, I’ve wanted that phone. Well, it is out and I finally bought it. Why? Well, many reasons, biggest being its ability to support Continuum and its price: $469 from T-Mobile, in the United States.
The current package also includes Alcatel’s VR headset and the phone comes with a smattering of impressive imagery and a couple of VR games, both of which seem more like tech demos than actual games.
The phone is gorgeous, one of the prettiest phones I’ve ever seen, on par with the Apple iPhone 4, which I previously regarded as the best LOOKING piece of hardware. The Idol 4s looks better. It’s glass back, metallic rim and a screen that, for now, never seems to get finger prints. It is just the right weight and the screen is amazing.
The phone sports a Snapdragon 820 CPU, which is a quad core processor running at 2.15ghz. It has 4gb of RAM and 64gb of storage, expandable with an SD card. It also features a 21megapixel back camera and an 8 megapixel forward camera. The camera can be started via a hardware button on the side of the device, a convenient if annoying feature.
The phone ships with a release of Windows 10 Mobile that was a bit behind. It immediately wanted to update to, I think, the ‘anniversary update’ rollup. Fortunately, it went off without a problem.
The camera, which I had read was a weak point, is actually pretty decent. In lower light, the colors are a bit washed out, just like the Alcatel Fierce XL I have, but the resolution is excellent and the images still look really nice. I have not yet tried outdoors at night, but will do so soon.
Perhaps the best thing about the phone…and Windows 10…is the ability to use the device as a desktop or laptop computer. That is where this device really shines. While I had to purchase a USB C to HDMI converter, the converter works great and also sports a spare USB 3.0 connector (for a keyboard or mouse) and a USB C female connector for charging the device while connected. The HDMI port is 4k capable and is full size, so you don’t need any funky sized connector or adaptor. The particular hub I purchased was from Mokin and sold via Amazon. I paid $23 for the device.
Connecting the phone to the Mokin switched it to Continuum and presented the desktop, as you would expect from a desktop PC. The phone screen turns into a mouse, though using this instead of an actual mouse can be frustrating as there is no obvious way to ‘click and hold’ to drag things. At least, I have not figured that out yet. A bluetooth keyboard was paired to the device and, bam! There I was, using my phone as a desktop.
Continuum, admittedly, is not perfect. For example, nothing I had on the SD card would work. For whatever the reason, Microsoft is not allowing applications on the SD card to run in Continuum. Also, not every application is Continuum compatible either. And, protected content will not work in this mode.
Overall, however, Continuum seems, to me, to be the killer feature (until MS introduces x86 emulation to the Snapdragon) for Windows Mobile 10. I can see carrying just the phone and adapter. Most places one would need a computer will, very likely, have an HDMI monitor along with keyboard and mouse. Or, you can take the travel size keyboard/mouse. I can forsee this more than taking my old laptop or even a tablet, though, admittedly, tablets can be just as productive.
While running Continuum, I was able to run Word, Excel, OneNote, Facebook and take a call…at the same time. The phone showed no perceptible slowdown at all.
The VR gimmick is just that, a gimmick and really not a reason to buy this phone. That said, and taking into account the limitation of the screen, it is still rather impressive, at first. The screen is HD, 1080p. That’s a problem only because the screen gets split in two to present the left and right images. This makes things a bit fuzzy and pixelated. However, it is not so bad as to make the experience a poor one. Quite the contrary, it works well. Too well, I got a headache and was a bit nauseated by it because my brain knew I was not really experiencing anything, though my eyes said otherwise.
Overall, the Alcatel Idol 4s with Windows 10 Mobile is an excellent, premium phone at a great price…half what most others would cost. It looks great, works well and is fast. Windows 10 Mobile needs a little work, but it is, overall, a great operating system and works very well. Don’t let the notion of a poor ‘store’ steer you away. The app system on all of the mobile devices is bad, I don’t care if there aren’t five hundred fart apps. I don’t even care that there is no Youtube app, the web site works and there are a few third party apps that fill in for what is missing.
I think you’d be satisfied with this phone. I sure am.