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Alcatel unveils the IDOL 4S with Windows 10, a Windows phone ready for virtual reality

Since the beginning of the year, rumors have been swirling about a new flagship-class Windows 10 Mobile device on the way from Alcatel. Today, Microsoft officially announced Alcatel's new 'IDOL 4S with Windows 10', which the company describes as 'virtual reality enabled'.

In addition to VR support, the device also supports other high-end Windows 10 Mobile features, including Windows Hello biometric authentication through the integrated fingerprint sensor, and Continuum, which allows buyers to use a mouse and keyboard with the phone when connected to a larger display.

Key specs of the IDOL 4S with Windows 10 include:

  • 5.5-inch AMOLED with Full HD (1920x1080px) resolution
  • Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB onboard storage (plus microSD card support up to 128GB)
  • 21MP rear camera with Sony IMX230 sensor
  • 8MP front-facing camera with 84-degree wide angle lens
  • USB Type-C connector with Quick Charge support
  • 3000mAh battery
  • 6.9mm thick

Like the Android version of the IDOL 4S, on which the Windows variant is based, the new device comes with a virtual reality headset, as Microsoft explained today:

Each IDOL 4S with Windows 10 comes packaged with virtual reality goggles included as part of the in-box bundle. The headset is designed so that the phone snaps into the goggles for an user-friendly virtual reality experience where you can play three dimensional games or watch 360 degree videos.

It's not yet clear how much VR content will actually be available for buyers of the device. Google, for example, recently detailed a range of games and experiences coming to its new Daydream VR platform, but Microsoft hasn't yet defined the range of its virtual reality offering. Further details on Microsoft's plans may be revealed at an event next month at which it will discuss the new low-cost VR headsets that will launch for Windows 10 PCs in early 2017.

Buyers of the new Alcatel phone will also get a free 30-day trial for Microsoft's Groove Music subscription service, and a 45-day Hulu Plus trial, along with a free copy of Halo: Spartan Assault from the Windows Store.

The IDOL 4S with Windows 10 will be available on T-Mobile in the United States from November 10, priced at $469.99. That makes it an interesting - and rather more affordable - alternative to HP's new $699 Elite x3 flagship, which has the same processor, RAM and storage. While the Elite x3 can also be purchased with a Continuum Desk Dock for $799, you'll have to buy your own desktop docking solution separately for the IDOL 4S.

Notably, the IDOL 4S with Windows 10 is priced $70 higher than the Android version of the same handset - but there are more differences between the two versions than their shared name might suggest.

According to Alcatel's site, the Android model - which is currently available for $399 - comes with a lesser processor (Snapdragon 652 vs Snapdragon 820), less storage (32GB vs 64GB), and less RAM (3GB vs 4GB); but it does feature a higher-resolution display than its Windows counterpart (Quad HD rather than Full HD). The Android version comes with a lower-resolution rear camera (16MP vs 21MP), but it does support microSD cards up to 200GB, while Microsoft states that the Windows 10 Mobile model won't support any cards larger than 128GB.

Given the numerous, and fairly substantial, differences between the two handsets, one can't help but wonder why they share the same IDOL 4S product name. Earlier rumors surrounding the device suggested that the Windows version would be called the 'IDOL Pro 4'.

You can get a further brief overview of the Alcatel IDOL 4S with Windows 10 in the video below:

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