Virtual reality doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Just pop the new $199.99 Alcatel Idol 5 phone for Cricket Wireless into a companion UNI360 headset ($49.99) and you’re good to go. That’s not the Idol 5’s only selling point. You also get an attractive metal design and solid specs for the price. We got a chance to handle the phone a bit ahead of its launch October 27th and have some initial thoughts.
The Alcatel Idol 5 doesn’t take a significant departure from the design of the Idol 5S, but trades the glass on the back for a metal unibody. It measures 5.8 by 2.8 by 0.3 inches (HWD) and weighs in at a modest 5.2 ounces, making it far more pocketable than phablets like the ZTE Blade X Max (6.4 by 3.3 by 0.4 inches, 6.9 ounces).
There’s a power button on the left, the bottom hosts a USB-C charging port and a 3.5mm audio jack, and the right side has a volume rocker and the programmable Now key that can quickly launch apps or functions like the flashlight. A microSD card slot on the top supports cards up to 256GB. The one thing missing is a fingerprint sensor, which is an odd omission considering the 5S has one.
A bright 5.2-inch, 1080p screen dominates the front of the phone. Colors are rich and saturated and viewing angles are great. We didn’t get a chance to take it outside, but the screen got bright enough to see under studio lights, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble in direct sunlight. Like previous Alcatel phones, it’s reversible, quickly changing the UI around if you use it upside down. Above and below the screen are a pair of front-facing stereo speakers that give you impressively loud audio.
Under the hood, the phone is powered by a MediaTek Helio P20 processor clocked at 2.35GHz. It also supports 2GB of RAM and has 32GB of internal storage. We didn’t have a chance to run any benchmarks, but we found the phone to be smooth and responsive in general operation. It launched apps with ease, handled multitasking without any noticeable…