Alcatel OneTouch Idol Alpha hands-on

Alcatel OneTouch has turned a new leaf in 2013. In the past, the TCL-affiliated manufacturer has been known to crank out a dozen or more cheap smartphones at European trade shows with no apparent focus on quality, but after a recent adjustment in brand strategy, we're looking at the company in a completely new light. The frequency of new phones hasn't changed much, but Alcatel is working hard to change its reputation by adding a few high-end devices to its portfolio, such as the Idol Alpha. Taking the lead as the flagship of the company's premiere Android lineup, the Alpha is a 5-inch beaut that appears to live up to its name, complete with aluminum build and a new type of transparent material on the top and bottom. It's a phone that took us a bit off-guard, so join us after the break (and the gallery below) to read more of our first impressions.

Follow all of our IFA 2013 coverage by heading to our event hub!

Alcatel OneTouch Idol Alpha handson

The Alpha is the most premium Alcatel OneTouch phone we've ever played with, both in terms of look and feel. Simply put, it's stunning, sleek and stylish. It features a 3D aluminum frame, which company reps tell us is "achieved with three dimensional forming with 3D diamond cut on the chamfer." They claim that this approach -- instead of going for the standard boxy style -- is the first of its kind, and whether that's true or not, it's still done quite well. To add to the phone's overall durability, the Alpha has a metallic back and the front is covered with an oleophobic coating and a slab of Dragontrail Glass, a lesser-known Corning competitor that aims to protect smartphones with the same kind of scratch resistance and toughness.

Another element of the Alpha's design that truly shines is the translucent edges on top and bottom. We're told that it's made of a special transparent material that isn't plastic or glass, though reps wouldn't get more specific. It's not just there for its looks, though we must admit it adds a splash of elegance to the device; rather, the bottom edge doubles as a notification bar, lit up by three LEDs that sit on the end of the physical chassis. It's designed in such a way that the phone glows underneath to give the appearance that it's floating; after all, who doesn't want a special glowing phone that floats in mid-air?

DNP Alcatel OneTouch Idol Alpha handson

The specs aren't top-of-the-line, unfortunately, but we have a feeling that most people won't mind -- as long as price isn't a negative factor, which is still an unknown at this point. The Alpha runs Android 4.2.2 with a special UI designed by Alcatel and features a 4.7-inch 720p IPS display, a 1.2GHz quad-core SoC, 1GB RAM, 16GB internal storage with no microSD support and a 2,000mAh battery. It has DC-HSPA+ 42Mbps connectivity, but no LTE; it'll start to roll out as early as October in China and will expand to countries in Eastern Europe. We're not sure if or when it'll be on the market anywhere else in the world, but from what we've seen so far, we wouldn't mind it stopping by our local retail stores for a visit.