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Alcatel One Touch Idol 3: Budget Smartphone Works Upside Down

BARCELONA -- It's a reversible phone. Alcatel’s new flagship, the OneTouch Idol 3, sports a dual-speaker and dual-mic design that lets you talk on the phone regardless of whether it’s upside down or not. It will be available in 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch variations in the U.S. this May for an estimated starting price of $249 unlocked. The Idol 3’s neat feature set and low price point make it one of the more intriguing smartphones of Mobile World Congress 2015 thus far.

The Idol 3 has all the makings of a slick, affordable flagship. The phone’s plastic edges give a faux-metal look, with a brushed black rear panel that’s smooth to the touch. Both the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch versions felt comfortably lightweight, and both sport attractively slim profiles.

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The Idol 3’s dual speakers aren’t just there for upside down calls, they’re designed to please music nuts, too. Powered by JBL, the speakers are complemented by the Idol 3’s OneTouch Mix app, which can automatically mash together songs in your music library. When you flip to landscape mode in the app, two virtual turntables appear on the app that let you play DJ and mix your songs exactly how you want.

Audiophiles will also appreciate the inclusion of Harman’s Clari-FI technology, which restores compressed tracks to sound more like their original, natural forms.

Alcatel’s new flagship packs a 13-MP sensor with features such as real-time HDR video at 30 frames per second and Auto Scene Detection for getting optimal contrast and color balance. Alcatel claims that the phone’s Fast Face Focus feature can recognize a face in 0.26 seconds – I can’t verify that exact number, but it seemed to work quite fast when I used it at the company’s press event.

The 4.7-inch version of the Idol 3 packs a 720p display and is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon processor, while the 5.5-inch model sports a full HD display and runs on an octa-core CPU. Both versions support 4G LTE bands and run Android Lollipop 5.0.

The Idol 3’s sleek, reversible design and wealth of audio and camera features combine for a compelling Android package, especially for just $249 unlocked. We look forward to giving the smartphone our full review treatment later this year.