Cricket Wireless Alcatel Idol 5 Review: Go Mobile on a budget

Cricket Wireless Alcatel Idol 5 Review: Go Mobile on a budget

Cutting edge mobile performance comes at a price and with phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 & iPhone X sailing past the thousand dollar mark, a less expensive option can be a welcome sight. The Cricket Wireless Alcatel Idol 5 comes with a premium build, good performance at a fraction of the price of the big boys.

Cricket Wireless Alcatel Idol 5 Review: Go Mobile on a budget
Front, Right side, Left side, Back

Alcatel Idol 5 Specs & Features

There isn’t the bleeding edge technology but under the hood but you’ll find some respectable hardware that provide good snappy performance for most tasks. Equipped with a Helio P20 2.35GHz Octa-core CPU you’ll get the 8 cores that are helpful with productivity.

The 5.2″ 1920 x1080 full HD display is robust and the IPS panel screen is a pleasure to use. It’s not going to blow you away standing side by side with some of the other flagship phones out there but it’s more than pretty enough for a daily driver. It’s 4G LTE compatible with Bluetooth 4.2, 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi connectivity, GPS, NFC and a built in FM tuner.

Unfortunately there is only 2GB of RAM decreased from 3GB on the Idol 5S which can be noticeable, more so we’re sure as OS updates roll out. That said, it runs snappy and we’re not noticing any stutter or hesitation. The unit ships with Android Nougat 7.0 and 32GB of onboard storage with an SD card slot to expand your storage memory up to 256 GB.

Equipped with a 2850 mAh Li-Ion, the battery life is pretty good. It will depend how long you have your head buried in your phone but if you need power fast the Pump Express 2.0+ technology makes recharge time is very quick and super convenient. For daily typical usage the phone is able to make it through most of a day.

Charge times were convenient and pretty quick using the Pump Express 2.0+ fast charging. Starting from 7% we’re able to get to 30% battery in 13 minutes, 68% battery in 30 minutes and full charge 1hr 5 min.

Cricket Wireless Alcatel Idol 5 Review: Go Mobile on a budget
Alcatel Idol 5 Headphone jack & USB Type C Charge port

The Idol 5 also retains the traditional headphone jack but does come with a Type C port increasing both charge speed and data transfer speeds. There’s no fingerprint sensor but at $179.00 you’ll still have all the important features needed for typical use.

Cricket Wireless Alcatel Idol 5 Review: Go Mobile on a budget
Alcatel Idol 5 profile view

Look & Feel

The Idol 5 uses Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 for added protection, while the back of the phone has been redesigned with an matte grey aluminum back. We actually prefer this design over the Idol 5S which uses a more blocky style, glass on both sides, sandwich design. The Idol 5 beveled edges and rounded glass construction feels wonderful in hand. It’s weighted nicely, sleek, smooth and feels every bit a premium device.

Button wise the Idol 5 has a power button on the left and volume rocker on the upper right of the device. While the comment is a bit subjective, being right-handed we find ourselves accidentally hitting the extra ‘now button’ instead of the power button quite often. You cannot assign the phone locking function to the now button.

Cricket Wireless Alcatel Idol 5 Review: Go Mobile on a budget
Idol 5 Now Button & Volume Rocker

The extra ‘now button’ is a pretty convenient feature. It is a dedicated button that you can use for anything. Assign whatever you’d like so you can quickly launch an app a function. You can assign a maximum of 3 functions like the flashlight, camera, timer, google assistant,  record sound etc or 3 particular apps you frequently use.

Cricket Wireless Alcatel Idol 5 Review: Go Mobile on a budget
Alcatel Idol 5 Now Button Floating Menu

The now button creates a slick little floating menu that will fan out and hide away when you tap or press the now button again. You can also turn it off so it does nothing.


The phone overall does fine for day to day usage and will allow you to surf, use GPS navigation, email, some basic gaming and productivity without costing you your first born son. Unfortunately, next to the Idol 5s the Idol 5’s performance can be a bit underwhelming but does offer a premium feeling device for a very low price. This may be a viable option for traveling to the beach or vacation outside the country where it may not be the smartest thing to bring your primary mobile phone.

The Idol 5 comes with a front facing 8MP and rear facing 12MP camera. Pictures are acceptable and the camera does pretty well on quickness in good lighting. Low lighting performance can feel a bit lack luster but overall good. The camera lens physically is tucked far into the upper left corner making it a little easier to grip the phone with two hands and not get your own finger in the image.

Cricket Wireless Alcatel Idol 5 Review: Go Mobile on a budget
Alcatel Idol 5

What you do get is a pair of front firing stereo speakers that help sell a robust multimedia experience. The sound is pretty loud and we’re pleasantly happy with the volume and projection.

It’s not a hardware powerhouse so the VR experience may be dulled a bit from some of the other more hardware rich devices out there but the network locked Cricket Wireless Alcatel Idol 5 offers a nice and snappy performance, free from tons of bloatware.

If you’re looking to include some mobile VR performance on a budget consider the Idol 5S which comes with 3GB of RAM, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 CPU, Adreno 506 GPU and an all glass design at $279.00 Additionally the Idol 5S comes unlocked AT&T/T-Mobile/Sprint/Verizon Compatible.

Cricket Wireless

The Cricket Wireless mobile network gives you cost effective mobile service that provides good coverage and basic LTE data speeds for a decent price. Call quality is acceptable and we experienced pretty good coverage in and around the NY/NJ/CT area.

The lowest tier with data plan comes in at a reasonable $30 per month. It includes 2GB of monthly data transfer with unlimited calls, texts and MMS (picture messages). You can also add 1GB blocks of data if necessary. The top tier Unlimited High-speed data plan capped at 8mbps offers Unlimited data, calls, texts and MMS. There’s also a Unlimited 2 plan which is capped at 3mbps. If you’re looking to stream movies in full HD you may look to other mobile services but if you’re looking for worry-free mobile data usage for basic surfing, SD video and email Cricket Wireless may be an option for you to consider.

The caveat here is that the 2GB/5GB plans are capped at 8Mbps for LTE and 4Mbps for 4G and the Unlimited plans are throttled down to a paltry 128Kbps once you exceed 22GB of monthly data transfer.

A one-time activation fee of $25 gets you started and it’s important to note that you’ll need to make 6 monthly service payments to be eligible to unlock the Idol 5. If you need an unlocked phone the Idol 5S is a better option.

Cricket Wireless Alcatel Idol 5 Review: Go Mobile on a budget
Alcatel Idol 5 Cricket Wireless

Wrap up

Alcatel’s Idol 5 features a premium look and feel with good performance for daily use or where you might not want to use your premium device. The Idol 5 shines as a alternative to your primary phone or budget daily driver. Features include a 5.2″ full HD resolution screen with good color saturation, fast charging Type C power port, traditional headphone jack, micro SD card slot, dedicated now button for quick access and nice loud stereo sound from its dual front facing speakers.

The budget friendly device gives you snappy performance and connectivity for most tasks. Cricket Wireless mobile network that runs off of AT&T’s backbone provides good coverage area for the NY/NJ/CT Tristate area with basic or unlimited data plans.

Cricket Wireless Alcatel Idol 5 $199.99 $179.99