Alcatel makes a valiant effort to show off at least some of the VR content via its VRLauncher app, which serves as a hub of sorts for other apps on the phone. Basically, the available content comes down to a bit of 360-degree photos and video supplied by Alcatel itself, a pair of decent 3D VR games, as well as Tube 360, a small series of up-to-date 360-degree videos that are actually worth watching.
Personally, I felt that Alcatel’s bundled videos were the worst part of the experience. I quickly ejected from a 360-degree wingsuit video which didn’t rotate quickly enough to convince my sense of balance that it was in control.
It’s a credit to Alcatel’s hardware designers, though, that the two bundled games—Fibrum’s Captain Fellcraft VR and Zombie VR—played smoothly. Fellcraft was a bit difficult to control—inclining your head from side to side to control an endlessly falling BASE jumper isn’t that comfortable—but I was left without the nausea that the videos induced. The Windows Store app also offers a few VR apps, though most are specifically designed for repurposed Google Cardboard.
Make no mistake about it, however: VR headsets and content in the Android world are leaps and bounds ahead. Compare our Gear VR hands-on from 2014, for Pete’s sake. Meanwhile, Windows phones still lack an official YouTube app, let alone one that can show 360-degree content.
The best Windows consumer phone we’ve seen
Your consumers Windows phone choices boil down to two: the Microsoft Lumia 950 or the Alcatel Idol 4S. The Lumia 950’s superior camera offers a significant edge. I’ll back any phone that delivers outstanding battery life, however, and the Idol 4S’s silky-smooth performance complements this feature perfectly. As for VR? Without compelling content, it’s gimmicky, but what little there is, is implemented well.
From here on out, you know the story: Without any assurance of a Surface phone (or device) on the horizon, Windows phones may be on their deathbed. But for those willing to take that chance, the Alcatel Idol 4S delivers.
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