It's time to pit two smartphones we love against each other. We've picked out four categories — things we think every phone (Android or otherwise) needs to get right before we can recommend them — and squared off the Alcatel Idol 3 against the Moto G 2015.

This is a tough one. Both are great phones, and neither one is the wrong choice. But it's human nature to find the "best" and we're going to dive in and make that hard decision.

Buckle up.

Performance: A point for the Moto G

Moto G 2015

Both these phones are very pleasant to use. The software is toned down to mostly the basics, and without a ton of overhead both the Idol 3 and the Moto G perform well out of the box. A quick look at the specs:

Alcatel Idol 3 Moto G 2015
Operating system Android 5 Lollipop Android 5.1 Lollipop
Display 5.5-inch 1080p LCD 5.0-inch 720p LCD
Processor Snapdragon 615 Snapdragon 410
Storage 16GB 16GB
microSD 128GB 32GB
Front camera 8MP 5MP
Rear camera 13MP 13MP
Battery 2910 mAh 2470 mAh
Dimensions 152.7 x 75.14 x 7.4 mm 142.1x72.4x6.1-11.6 mm
Weight 141 grams 155 grams
Wifi 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 b/g/n (2.4 GHz)
Bluetooth 4.0LE 4.0LE

Motorola also sells a version of the Moto G 2015 with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, but the table above is for the 2GB and 16GB version, which is what we're using for this comparison.

A quick look at the chart might tell you this is all a no-brainer, and the Idol 3 is easily the better performer, but that's not the case. Motorola has done some sort of magic inside the Moto G 2015 and it does things a little better out of the box than the Idol 3 does. Just a little.

In fact, the Moto G 2015 is one of the smoother Android experiences you'll encounter even with admittedly mediocre specs. That's not to say the Idol 3 is a slouch, though. The interface may not have quite the snap that we see on the Moto G, but it's responsive and clean. You won't be disappointed with it at all.

If you're keeping score at home, give a point to the Moto G here.

Display: The Idol 3 is a beauty

Idol 3

The Moto G 2015 has a decent 5-inch 720p screen, and it's perfectly capable of showing off photos or video, or playing the games that play well on the Moto G. The viewing angles are acceptable, and it's OK outside in the sun.

The Idol 3 has a better display, in almost every way. The 5.5-inch 1080p experience rivals that of phones costing hundreds more, and I think the color reproduction got even better with a recent update. Color is crisp and clear, viewing angles are great, and you can't help but wonder how Alcatel was able to supply such a good display in a $250 phone. Seriously — ask the people you see using an Idol 3 in forums about the screen.

You won't hate the display on the Moto G. But you'll love the display on the Idol 3. The Idol 3 easily wins this one.

Battery life: All day sweetness

Idol 3 vs. Moto G 2015

Am I allowed to have a tie? I think I am.

Both of these phones have better than average battery life, and last me through the day with ease. The 720p display helps the Moto G last longer, and the Idol 3 has a bigger battery to offset the 1080p display.

And this is not just idle sitting on the desk time, either. Whether you're using Maps for turn-by-turn directions, or taking pictures, or spending time on social media, the battery life is pretty darn good on both of these phones. You'll likely be happy with either one.

Like I said above, this one is a tie.

Camera: This one goes to the Idol 3

Idol 3 camera

You're not going to find the super-duper cameras from the LG G4 or the new Samsung Galaxy models here. Know this going in and set your expectations accordingly.

The Moto G 2015 has the best camera on any Motorola phone to date. Megapixels aside, the camera does an excellent job with plenty of light, and the night mode in the camera app turns out photos that look good in lesser light. Motorola always tells us how great the cameras on their phones will be, and while not the best out there, the Moto G 2015 is pretty darn good.

The Idol 3 — especially since a recent update — has a great camera. Far better than you would expect a $250 phone to have, and I'll say that it's as good as we saw last year with the Galaxy S5 or the LG G3.

Both phones have a simple yet effective camera app, with features like HDR and some artistic shooting modes. I like the fancy focus and exposure ring on the Moto G a little better than using the menu on the Idol 3 to do the same, but either app works to get the best shots the cameras can produce.

Either phone has just what you need for sharing pics on the Internet with friends and family, but in the end, the Idol 3 has a better camera.

Odds and ends: More stuff you need to know

Idol 3 vs. Moto G 2015

  • The Idol 3 has an excellent DSP and Amp package, like we've seen in other recent phones. Music through headphones sounds very nice.
  • The Moto G 2015 feels a bit sturdier, and the rounded back makes it easier to hold compared to the flat Idol 3.
  • Moto Maker is a big draw. Green, red, yellow or just basic black, picking your color combo is fun and a big selling point.
  • The Moto G has legendary Motorola radios inside, and gets better reception than most other phones, Android or otherwise.
  • The Idol 3 has a decent sounding pair of front facing stereo speakers.
  • The Idol 3 has NFC, while the Moto G does not.
  • Both Motorola and Alcatel have proven to care about updating these phones, and that's important to many of us.

The winner: The Alcatel Idol 3

Idol 3

I love both of these phones, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend either to anyone looking for a great unlocked Android. The Moto G is fast and the "pure" Android software is quick and friendly. The Idol 3 takes that pure Android and adds some audio enhancements and a completely "reversible" UI like we saw in the Note edge.

Both are awesome, and the people buying them seem to be very satisfied. With good reason — both give that "flagship" experience without the price tag.

When you dig into them like this, using the four basics any phone needs to get right, the Idol 3 comes out on top.

But just barely. If you grabbed either of these, you're probably happy with your purchase. If you're looking to buy one or the other, know that both are great phones but the display and camera make the Idol 3 the winner in our opinion.