Alcatel intros the One Touch Idol Ultra, the 'world's slimmest phone' at 6.45mm (hands-on video)

Yes, there's a bit of a contest going on among smartphone manufacturers to determine which one has the thinnest device. As proof that Alcatel can play that game, too, the company has just jumped into the circle with its One Touch Idol Ultra, which measures 6.45mm at its thinnest point and ekes by the previous champ, the 6.55mm BBK Vivo X1. Alongside the One Touch Scribe HD, the device stands as Alcatel's flagship smartphone reveal at CES. Beyond thinness, the Idol Ultra boasts a 4.7-inch HD (1,280 x 720) Super AMOLED (read: PenTile) display, a 1.2GHz dual-core CPU, 1GB RAM and Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). Users will also find an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing counterpart, both of which record video at 720p.

In its push to make the Idol Ultra as thin as possible, Alcatel omitted expandable storage from the unit, and with only 8GB built-in, media hungry individuals will need to rely on cloud services. In terms of connectivity, the phone supports quad-band GSM and offers dual-band HSPA (7.2Mbps) in two different configurations: 900MHz / 2100MHz or 850MHz / 2100MHz. The phone is scheduled for availability this month in China for 2,799 RMB ($449). Sadly, the phone isn't destined to hit the US anytime soon -- Alcatel told us that the device couldn't get approved by the FCC due to its thin profile. So what did we think about this record-breaking handset? Hands-on photos are below, and after the break you'll find our impressions, a video and a full press release.


First, we'll tackle the signature feature of the phone: its thickness (or lack thereof). As you might expect, 6.45mm is ridiculously thin -- and incredibly light to boot. In many respects, it's difficult to comprehend the fact that it's actually a real phone and not some plastic replica that you hand over to your toddler. While it felt great to hold, we were a little disappointed in some of the tradeoffs that had to be made to achieve its goal; aside from being virtually shut out of the US, it's also missing a 3.5mm headphone jack, opting instead for a separate micro-USB adapter.

The 4.7-inch display is a 720p AMOLED panel, which keeps it in the same neighborhood as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus -- and yes, our experience with both displays were comparable. The screen was incredibly bright, even on its lowest setting, and we were quite happy with the viewing angles it produced. Display enthusiasts won't love the PenTile layout, unfortunately.

Flipping the Ultra over, we beheld a black, smooth semi-glossy exterior with a solid plastic build. The camera on the model we played with (which is very much a pre-production unit) was slightly crooked. That particular flaw will most likely be fixed between now and its official release, of course, so we didn't take too much stock in it.

Software-wise, the Ultra uses a mostly vanilla Android 4.1 build, though Alcatel appears to have added a few tiny tweaks to it: the icons have a curvacious shape that brought back memories of MeeGo, and there's a quick settings bar along the top of the notification menu. The phone itself suffered from a small bout of lag, but nothing over-the-top. The soft keys also need to be more responsive, as we often had to hit the buttons several times before they kicked in and obeyed our repeated commands. Again, these concerns may be fixed by the time the Ultra hits shelves, so we'll reserve final judgement for later.

Overall, we feel that the Ultra is a good step forward for Alcatel, a company that hasn't brought a phone with premium features to market in several years. There are still a few wrinkles to iron out before it hits the spotlight, but otherwise we were pleasantly surprised that the company seems to be turning over a new leaf.

Show full PR text

World's Slimmest Smartphone, ALCATEL ONE TOUCH Idol Ultra, Unveiled at 2013 Consumer Electronic Show

Las Vegas, Nevada (Consumer Electronic Show) – January 7, 2013 – TCL Communication, the leading global designer and manufacturer of ALCATEL ONE TOUCH branded mobile devices, today announced the brands 2013 smartphone lineup, including the world's slimmest smartphone, the ONE TOUCH Idol Ultra and the first phone to feature the new MediaTek MT6589 quad-core chipset, the ScribeHD.

"The Alcatel ONE TOUCH brand has grown exponentially since entering the U.S. market eight years ago," said Nicolas Zibell, President, Americas & Pacific for ALCATEL ONE TOUCH. "And with the launch of our new smartphone collection we plan to take things to the next level."

ONE TOUCH Idol Ultra
The ONE TOUCH Idol Ultra smartphone is the thinnest smartphone yet. The device breaks current market records at 6.45mm thin. Performance is not compromised in this design with features such as a stunning 4.7'' HD AMOLED display, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 8MP camera that captures 1080p video, and running on Android Jelly Bean.

In the same product line, the ONE TOUCH Idol also breaks current records, weighing in at 110 grams (3.88 oz) making it the lightest smartphone in its category. The device's dual-core processor and Android platform provides a feature-rich experience and supports a large, bright 4.7" IPS display, 8MP camera and 2MP front camera, running on Android Jelly Bean and offered in premium brushed metallic finishes.

"The ONE TOUCH Idol device series represents a breakthrough in technology," said Alain Lejeune, Head of Research and Development for ALCATEL ONE TOUCH. "We've pushed the barriers on design, resulting in devices that offer the perfect balance between ultra-slim form factor, large display, outstanding performance, and rich user experience, while keeping the devices affordably priced to consumers."

Zachary Lutz contributed to this report.