CNET First Look
The Alcatel Idol 5S has slick features but a small batteryWith premium looks and lots of good features, the Idol 5S is a steal at its low price. Too bad the battery doesn't last long.
Just when you think the world of budget smartphones just settled, Alcatel comes along with the Idol 5S. It's designed and build belies its budget price. In the U.S., the Idol 5S sells at $280, what it looks down right fancy with its glass front and back. It feels like a svelte iPhone 4 and that's a good thing. The Idol 5S runs Android Nougat which includes Google Assistant. In use, the 5S was very capable of everyday tasks. Messaging, social media, and even playing games like Super Mario Run, Modern Combat 5, and Incredible Monster Hero. There's a fingerprint reader on the back, which works well and has a couple of nifty tricks. You can set specific fingers to trigger a shortcut. For example, I can unlock the phone And go right into messages right in one motion. I can also use the fingerprint reader to swipe through photos left and right. Sadly, there's no NFC which means no Android Pay, but the Idol 5s does have amazing built in speakers. Speakers better than most phones. And it has a 12 megapixel rear camera which takes nice photos and shoots good 1080p video. There's no 4K, no optical image stabilization, and that's true of most budget phones. But the Idol 5S does have digital image stabilization for video which yields good results. So, is the Idol 5S one of the best budget phones you can buy? Well, there's two problems. The first is the battery. In our loop video battery test, it only lasted 7 hours and 48 minutes. That's one of the shortest times for any phone we've tested this year. I should say in real world use it got through most days just fine. But there's were some days were I was searching for my charger by the afternoon. And problem number two, the Moto G5 Plus. It is equally. With respect the Idol 5S, but its battery lasted 13 hours and 22 minutes in our test. Look, I really like the Alcatel Idol 5S, but the battery is a compromise you'll need to consider. If you can get past charging it more frequently, it is otherwise a wonderful phone for the price.