Microsoft may not have any new Windows phones coming out in 2016, but other device makers aren't spending the year on the sidelines. Alcatel has announced a new Windows powered-device, the Idol 4S, which will be available through T-Mobile for $470 and ship with a bundled VR headset.
If the phone's name sounds familiar, that's because an Android version of the Idol 4S debuted earlier this year. That phone came bundled with a VR headset, too. But Alcatel made some changes to the Windows 10 version of its phone, giving the 5.5-inch handset a little bit more oomph.
Gone is the Snapdragon 652 processor that powered the Android version of the Idol 4S, replaced by a more powerful Snapdragon 820 chip. Alcatel boosted the RAM to 3.5GB, up from 3GB on the Android phone, and storage has doubled to 64GB. The Windows version of the Idol 4S features a 21-megapixel rear camera — a welcome change since the 16-MP shooter on the Idol 4S for Android was one of our bigger complaints about that phone. The 8-MP shooter up front remains the same on the different versions of the 4S, as does the 3,000 mAh battery. (That's not a bad thing: The Android version of the 4S scored lasted a respectable 9 hours, 9 minutes on our battery test.)
Alcatel has lowered the resolution on the Windows 10 phone, which features a 1920 x 1080 display. The Idol 4S for Android boasted a resolution of 2560 x 1440.
One of the most significant features of the Idol 4s makes the jump over to the Windows version — the bundled virtual reality headset. When we reviewed the Idol 4S for Android, we found the headset to be a decent companion for Alcatel's phone, even if it lacked some of the finer touches found in Samsung's Gear VR headset. Still, it will be a welcome addition for Windows Phone fans, as this will be the first Windows 10 smartphone to come with a VR companion device right out of the box, according to Alcatel.
The Idol 4S gains some other Windows 10-friendly features too, most notably support for Windows Hello and Windows Continuum. That latter feature lets you use your phone as if it were a desktop, and it boosts the appeal of the Idol 4s for mobile workers.
Still, the usual caveat remains about Windows phones — you won't find as many apps on that platform as you will on Android or iOS. Nevertheless, Windows phones have their fans (even if they aren't necessarily among the decision makers in Redmond these days), and they should be intrigued by the arrival of a VR-friendly Windows device.
T-Mobile starts selling the Idol 4S at its stores on November 10. If you buy one, you'll also get a free 45-day Hulu Plus trial along with a free month of the Microsoft Groove music service.