The Alcatel Idol 3

It's the best time ever to be in the market for an unlocked phone. The Alcatel Idol 3 is one of the reasons why.

If you're thinking of buying a new Android smartphone, 2015 is shaping up to be great. We're seeing unlocked phones that deliver an excellent Android experience from plenty of vendors, and some — like the Alcatel Idol 3 — are doing it at a price-point that won't break your budget.

The hardest part about buying a great unlocked Android phone is deciding which one to choose. That's a very good situation to be in from a consumer standpoint. And something we can help you with. I've put away the expensive phones over the past month and am using these budget-friendly unlocked phones full-time. The Alcatel Idol 3 is one I can heartily recommend, and here's a few reasons why.

READ MORE: Five reasons to buy an Alcatel Idol 3

1. The screen

Idol 3 screen close-up

While it might not be the best screen you'll find on an Android phone, it's the best screen you'll ever see on a phone that doesn't cost $500 or more.

It's a crisp 5.5-inch LCD at 1080p (that's 401 pixels per inch), has great viewing angles and excellent color. It looks great indoors or out, and you won't be disappointed.

You wouldn't expect a screen this good on a phone this affordable.

2. The software

Lollipop on the Idol 3

Fluid and responsive software is a key to the best user experience. The Idol 3 may not be packed with a million and one features and functions, but everything is done well and the "stock" software is great to use.

Alcatel has also been quick with the updates to their version of Lollipop, which is important to a lot of us.

If you're looking for a phone that doesn't give you that cluttered feel, and does what it was designed to do very well, you've found it in the Alcatel Idol 3.

3. It feels good to hold

Idol 3 design

While the Idol 3 is made of plastic, and you can feel that it's made of plastic, the design and construction make it great to hold.

The edges are sloped and beveled, so that you really don't feel any hard angles when the Idol 3 is in your hand. The camera is flush with the back, and the power and volume controls extend just enough to make them easy to find and use without snagging on things as it enters and leaves your pocket.

Little things like this make a difference — especially when a phone is something that many of us have in our hands all day.

4. It sounds good

Idol 3 speakers

Alcatel teamed up with JBL to provide a Premium sound experience for the Idol 3.

The audio from the dual front-facing speakers is crisp, plenty loud enough, and really does deliver on the premium promise. From podcasts to shredding guitars to thumping bass, the Idol 3 sounds great when you don't want to use a pair of headphones.

But please, don't be that person on the bus who doesn't use headphones.

5. It won't break the bank

Alcatel Idol 3 at Amazon

The Idol 3 is unlocked, and sells for $249 US direct from Amazon at the time of this writing.

This means you can spend less than half the price of some other models, use it anywhere (except Verizon or Sprint) and have no nagging payments or leasing schemes.

Granted, it's not delivering the performance or quality of a $700 phone from your carrier, but it comes very close in both departments and looks great sitting on top of a pile of cash that you saved by buying it.

If you're in the market for a new phone, and want to try something different and stay away from what your carrier wants you to buy, the Alcatel Idol 3 should be on your short list of phones to look at.