The box for Alcatel’s new phone turns into a virtual reality headset

Prepare for 360-degree unboxing videos

We’re at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, bringing you the latest smartphone news straight from the show floor. Catch up with what’s happened so far on our dedicated MWC page.

As we expected, virtual reality is all the rage here at Mobile World Congress. From Samsung’s VR-based press conference for the Galaxy S7 to HTC’s unveiling of the Vive Consumer Edition, everyone’s talking about 360-degree experiences.

Chinese tech brand Alcatel (those folks who made a tablet bigger than your laptop) unveiled some new phones at MWC this weekend, and one of them comes in packaging that converts into VR goggles. The Idol 4S is a higher-end phone than we’re used to seeing from Alcatel, who also announced that they’re dropping their little-understood “Onetouch” branding.

Available in Gold, Dark Grey, Rose Gold and Metal Silver, the Idol 4S phones come with an interesting “Boom Key” that promises to make everything more, er, boomy. Pressing this hardware key during music playback boosts bass and volume, pressing it on the home screen gives it a 3D parallax effect, while pressing it on the gallery creates a shuffled photo collage. It’s an interesting idea, though we think people will probably mostly use it for its ability to insta-launch the camera.

As with previous Idol phones, the handset is reversible, so you can use it either way up. Here’s our demo on the Idol 3C:

As well as the fancypants VR gogglebox, you get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor (4 x 1.8 GHz and 4 x 1.4 GHz), 32GB of storage with a microSD/dual sim slot, 3GB of RAM, a 16MP main camera and 8MP selfie, and a 5.5-inch 2K AMOLED screen. Perfect for watching those 360-degree videos from the included Onetouch VR Store – although we thought they’d dropped the ‘Onetouch’?!

We don’t yet have a UK price and release date for the Idol 4S, but it’s European price works out to £350, which seems about right for Alcatel’s super-cheap handset history. It’s expected to land around the second quarter of this year – hopefully those VR boxes will be coming with it.

All images: Alcatel

Holly Brockwell
About Holly Brockwell 291 Articles
Tech addict Holly founded Gadgette in 2015, and won Woman of the Year for it. She's firmly #TeamAndroid, has ambitions to become a robot, and beat all other Hollies to her awesome Twitter handle.