Alcatel Idol 5 brings subtle design tweaks, heads to Cricket Wireless for under $200

We're seeing a lot of premium smartphones come in over $800, but you can also enjoy some premium features in a smartphone that costs less than $200. The Alcatel IDOL 5 is a VR-ready Android 7.0 Nougat phone with a 5.2-inch 1080p display and dual front-facing speakers. Under the hood is a (cost-saving) Mediatek Helio P20 octa-core processor, 2GB of RAM, up to 32GB of internal memory and a microSD slot for even more storage.

The most noticeable change on the Idol 5 compared to the Idol 4 is the metal back. Alcatel says the move to metal was in response to customer feedback that the glass back on the Idol 4S was fragile.

The NOW key on the Idol 5 replaces the BOOM key from the previous model (my word, those names). The key instantly launches your most commonly-used tasks. You can use it to turn the flashlight on or off, compose a message, take a screenshot, snap a photo, or launch your favorite apps.

Alcatel Idol 5

Other notable features include the 12-megapixel camera with dual-tone flash, 8-megapixel selfie camera with LED flash, and fast charging for the 2850mAh battery. You can also find a 3.5mm headset jack located at the bottom of the phone.

The new Alcatel Idol 5 is available exclusively at Cricket-branded stores or beginning October 27, with the affordable price of $199. The UNI360 VR Googles, which is optimized for the Idol 5, is sold separately for $49.99, although it is compatible with other VR-capable smartphones with 5- to 6-inch displays.

Mark Guim