Alcatel has unveiled the IDOL 4S, a flagship Windows 10 Mobile smartphone with very high-end specs. It supports all of Windows 10's headline features and also includes virtual reality, a first for the platform. The premium phone is priced competitively.
Alcatel introduced the phone with Microsoft today. After a series of leaks in the past few months, the device is finally ready for the public. It is one of the most powerful smartphones around and is built from the ground up as a premium device. It expands on the existing Android versions of the IDOL 4 with upgraded hardware and Windows 10.
The IDOL 4S has a dual-glass and metal design with curved chamfered edges. The back of the phone is similar to recent Samsung devices. There's a small camera bump and a fingerprint sensor, alongside the Alcatel logo and an "IDOL 4S" sticker. The overall finish could be mistaken for a Samsung Galaxy Note or S-series phone, although the metal edges help the IDOL 4S to stand out from the crowd.
The device is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 processor and an Adreno 530 GPU. This makes it only the second Windows phone to use the flagship chip, the other being HP's business-oriented Elite X3. The large 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage confirms the IDOL 4S' powerhouse nature, creating a class-leading device to appeal to professionals and Windows fans.
The rear 21MP camera is controlled by a premium Sony IMX230 sensor. There's an 8MP front camera on the front and an extensive roster of supporting features. The IDOL 4S includes dual 1.2W multi-directional speakers, a 3,000mAh battery, USB-C, Qualcomm Quick Charge, a fingerprint sensor for Windows Hello and support for Microsoft's Continuum, enabling the handset to power an external monitor and display desktop apps.
The IDOL 4S also has another capability that makes it unique amongst Windows devices. It comes with a virtual reality headset in the box, letting users experience VR content using their phone. The 5.5-inch Full HD AMOLED display on the IDOL 4S is used as the screen for the headset. The phone snaps into the goggles when immersed in virtual reality.
At launch, the possibilities presented by the VR headset are likely to be rather small. With the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft is emphasising virtual reality and 3D content. However, there's currently very little in the Windows Store that's actually compatible with VR. Aside from a handful of 3D games, finding apps that are compatible with the headset could prove a challenge. Rival systems such as Samsung's Gear VR have much more content available.
The IDOL 4S has a different audience though. Alcatel is aiming it at professionals, gamers and general tech enthusiasts, rather than regular consumers. Microsoft's well-documented inability to grow Windows Phone means it now has less than 1 percent market share. It is continuing to maintain the platform to cater to its fans and enterprise customers though. The company aims to retain a foothold in the market for the future, leaving partners such as Alcatel to build new hardware while it slowly expands Windows 10 Mobile.
"Enhanced security and enterprise-level productivity solutions are key features within Windows 10, but there have been few options in the U.S. market that combine this operating system with a powerful, experience-rich smartphone," said Steve Cistulli, president and general manager for Alcatel, North America. "We’re proud to collaborate with T-Mobile and Microsoft to launch the IDOL 4S with Windows 10, delivering a value-packed smartphone experience that is unmatched in the U.S. market, finally bringing to life the full potential of what a high performance Windows 10 smartphone experience can be."
Alcatel is unlikely to sell the IDOL 4S in great numbers. As a productivity powerhouse for mobile workers, the phone excels though, offering some of the most capable hardware of any smartphone. Microsoft's Continuum is popular with professional customers, enabling key apps such as Office and Facebook to expand to their desktop counterparts when using an external monitor.
"Alcatel’s IDOL 4S with Windows 10 Mobile is a great device for people that crave the portability of a mobile handset, but also need the productivity capabilities of a full-sized Windows 10 PC," said Gary Fowle, vice president of US OEM Division, Microsoft. "The IDOL 4S lights up Windows 10 Mobile features like Continuum and Windows Hello with its finger print reader giving mobile professionals and consumers a great Windows 10 phone experience."
To sweeten the deal of buying the device, Alcatel will be offering a series of free extras to every customer. Aside from the VR headset in the box, you'll also get a free 45-day trial of Hulu Plus, an additional 30-day trial of Microsoft's Groove Music and a free copy of Halo: Spartan Assault from the Windows Store. The entire package is priced at $469.99, a competitive position compared to rival Android phones. The IDOL 4S will go on sale on November 10. In the U.S., it will be sold exclusively by T-Mobile.