Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3
The Alcatel Idol 3 is one of a handful high-quality, medium-end phones that have high-quality components, up-to-date software, and very low prices for an unlocked device.
The overall quality of the Idol 3 is above par, especially when compared to similar devices that are bogged down by bloatware and heavily skinned versions of Android. There are many phones in this space at the moment, actually, and all of them are more than decent, and typically can be had for under $300, or even under $200. This is remarkable because phones with specs of this caliber have more typically been sold for $500-ish, unlocked.
The camera and microphone quality on the Idol 3 aren’t up to iPhone 6s Plus levels of quality, but are still quite good, and its internal storage is expandable through mini-SD cards (which is one of the areas in which it actually leads over the Apple device). It’s also rugged and inexpensive enough that I can afford to use it in situations in which I’d be uncomfortable using a more expensive phone.
One of the major benefits of carrying a cheaper, relatively obscure-looking phone is that potential thieves can’t price them out in passing quite so easily, which weighs the cost-benefit of trying to steal your phone (which may be worth little, as far as they know) more in your favor. It’s also cheap enough that should someone decide to steal it, or should you drop/lose/break the phone, you can replace it with relative ease.
I opted for this model over the ZenPhone and OnePlus phones in part because it runs a relatively unskinned version of Android. The heavier the customization of Android, the more bloatware and company-specific graphics you have to deal with, and though these won’t be deal-breakers for everyone, I find that I start to hate my phone when it’s bogged down by software I can’t delete, and slathered in tacky textures and animations I can’t do anything about.
One other downside of working with non-Samsung Android phones is that there are far fewer production-focused accessories available. There are gobs of lenses, high-end cases, and other gadgets available for iPhones, and quite a few nice pieces available for high-end Samsung phones, as well. Mid-range phones, and especially off-brand mid-range phones, don’t have much to work with in that area.