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Hands-on: Alcatel OneTouch Hero 2, the affordable Galaxy Note 4?

The Alcatel OneTouch Hero 2 wants to be an affordable Galaxy Note 4 alternative – and it kind of is.

All the big mobile names (Apple permitting) make a stake at IFA. Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 4 is certainly a formidable beast and that S Pen stylus experience has never looked better, however if you’re worried that the new king of the phablets might be a little out of your price range, Alcatel OneTouch might have a remedy in the form of its new Hero 2 smartphone.

The latest Hero range consists of the 6-inch Hero 2 smartphone and the 8-inch Hero 8 (get it?) tablet. You fancy a stylus? The Hero 2 has one. Note 4-style windowed multitasking? Feel free to drag all manner of apps across the screen at once. 13-megapixel rear camera? Check that one off the list too.

Front - Hero 2

The Hero 2 might not have the premium finesse of the Note 4 (there’s notably more plastic on show than Samsung’s new top dog) but for what will undoubtedly be a more manageable price point, Alcatel OneTouch has packed a lot in to their new flagship.

The 6-inch screen sports a Full HD LCD panel, great for movies, there’s a selfie-friendly 5-megapixel front-facing camera and the integrated IR blaster means the phone doubles as TV remote when called upon. Storage varies from model to model (8GB, 16GB and 32GB options will be available) as does the inclusion of NFC, presumably based on market. You can throw a 32GB microSD card in there for added space and all in a body that’s just 7.3mm thick.

Hero 2 side stylus Hero 2

The company wanted to stress the entertainment focus of the Hero range when they brought it out on stage. You can quick-launch the music player or the camera by tracing an ‘M’ or a ‘C’ shape with your finger across the screen when the phone’s locked and there are stereo speakers for enjoying fuller sound. In truth the audio that came out was loud, but not of the sharpest quality, so it can’t be considered the focus of the tablet.

The occasional drop in frame rate was most likely as a result of the early build of OS we tested. Alcatel OneTouch has lightly skinned the main elements of Android 4.4 KitKat to resemble Android L’s forthcoming material design language. It’s a clean, colourful interface that’s easy to navigate and for the most part felt smooth.

The grunt of the Hero 2 comes from a 2GHz MediaTek octa-core processor and 2GB of RAM. Aside from a little stutter whilst swiping, everything else appeared rock solid in our first encounter. Apps launched quickly, four-way multi-tasking didn’t appear to cause too much trouble and the new Cross DJ app was responsive and fun to use.

DJ case

In fact said app even comes with its own dedicated case to add a little additional sequencer magic to your mixes. Other accessories include a myriad of cases with windows and LED-style displays, the E-Mate serves as an eInk companion for reading messages and eBooks on-the-go and the HTC Fetch-like Sidekick 2 serves as a Bluetooth handset, secondary remote for your TV and even controls presentations.

Windows case Hero 2 eInk Sidekick 2

So with all this in mind, don’t turn your nose up at the Alcatel OneTouch Hero 2 when you see it in the coming weeks, take Note, it might save you some money.

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