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Hands-on with the Alcatel One Touch Idol, the Ultra's younger sibling (video)

Promise not to get confused, but in addition to the One Touch Idol Ultra -- which currently holds the title as world's thinnest smartphone -- Alcatel has just announced the One Touch Idol, which sports thicker curves and a less impressive set of components. The Android 4.1 phone offers a 4.7-inch qHD (960 x 540) IPS display, along with 512MB RAM and a 1.2GHz dual-core CPU. The Idol features an 8.15mm profile, but at 110g, it also weighs less than the skinnier 119g Idol Ultra. The phone will be sold in single SIM (4GB built-in) and dual-SIM (8GB built-in) versions, but there's only one connectivity configuration for now: 900MHz / 2100MHz HSPA and quad-band GSM. The One Touch Idol is set to arrive in China this month, but pricing hasn't been announced; Alcatel also filled us in that we'll likely see a US carrier pick up the Idol sometime in the near future, but it declined to give us additional details on which company is involved.

The simpler-named Idol is overshadowed by its flashier older sibling, but it inherits the same overall design language. So what kind of thoughts, feelings and emotions did we have about this new entry in Alcatel's lineup? Head below and you'll be rewarded with photos, impressions, a video and press release.


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Since it shares a similar overall design language as the Idol Ultra, the family resemblance is easy to see, but there are plenty of differences on the outside and inside to tell the two apart. We're not just talking about the thickness; the layouts are also significantly varied. The LED notification light is under the 8MP camera instead of to the side, the power button has been swapped from the left to the right, the speaker grille on the back has also changed sides and the volume rocker is on the right edge.

The Idol sports a 4.7-inch qHD IPS display and unfortunately we were pretty disappointed overall. While the unit we played with is a pre-production model and will likely be fixed by the time it hits retail, the display was slightly washed out and light was bleeding in from both sides of the panel. Interestingly, we were actually impressed with how responsive the screen itself was; there was little if any lag, and it didn't sputter when we took it through its paces.

Much like we saw on the Ultra, the back of the phone has a semi-glossy plastic back that's smooth to the touch. The gray hyperglaze-like shell reminds us of the Samsung Galaxy S III in some ways.

We were also disappointed in the fact that the Idol only offers 4GB internal storage without an expandable memory option, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that the US version -- which will no doubt be refitted to meet the mystery carrier's demands -- will either compensate with more space or opt for a microSD slot. (Update: we received confirmation from Alcatel that the US version will indeed feature a microSD slot.)

As often is the case with many budget-friendly phones, the Idol is forgettable. The jury's still out on how well it gets the job done -- that will need to wait until a review unit arrives at our doorsteps -- but we're glad to see that Alcatel is finally making some progress in reaching the US market.

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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."

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.