It's rare enough to see a feature-packed smartphone come in at $350, but unheard of to see it bundled with a glass screen protector, protective case and VR headset right out of the box. All right, Alcatel. You have our attention.
The device in question, the Alcatel Idol 4S, is one we saw (and initially liked) earlier this year at Mobile World Congress. While Alcatel does partner with carriers like T-Mobile on some entry-level models, a higher-end phone that the device maker must sell solo, like this Idol 4S, is more challenging to advertise. That often results in a competitive price on a phone sold through the carrier's website.
This version of the 4S, aimed at US buyers, has a feature set to match all the goodies in the box. There's a fingerprint reader for phone unlocking as well as Android Pay mobile payments, and a convenience key that you can program to quickly launch apps, such as the camera app.
You'll also find a pair of loud JBL speakers and an interesting (and optional) trick that flips the 5.5-inch screen "up" if you pick up your phone upside down. And did I mention that it runs Android 6.0.1 and has a body made of metal and glass?
There are a few caveats, however. The $350 price is presale only, starting July 15 at 8 a.m. PT from Alcatel's website. On August 3, the price jumps to $400, which is still the same cost as the excellent OnePlus 3, without all the extras. Also, the Idol 4S will work only with GSM networks like AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS. Since it isn't optimized for any single network, it may lack certain carrier features, like Wi-Fi calling.
Expect to get a phone in your hands in the earlier part of August -- until then, read our hands-on impressions of the Idol 4S!