Chances are you’ve probably never heard of Alcatel, and you didn’t know they make smartphones.

Most of the time when shopping for an Android smartphone, consumers see offerings from companies like Samsung, Motorola and LG. What’s this Alcatel I speak of?

Well, let me introduce you to the Chinese company’s OneTouch Idol 3. Available flat-out for $349 it’s a relatively affordable Android device that packs above average performance.

In the palm of my hand, it feels as sturdy as a high school calculator, which isn’t saying much. The plasticky construction is something I haven’t felt in several years. By comparison, Motorola’s Moto G starts at $199 and feels sturdier and more upscale.

That Moto, however, can’t compare in the performance section and would be beat out by the Alcatel handset.

Behind the Idol 3’s screen sits competent hardware. It’s quarterbacked by a quad-core 1.5 Ghz processor mated to 2 GB of RAM. While there’s only 16 GB of internal memory, it can be expanded up to 128 GB with a microSD card.

Users with more than just a few apps – and an appetite for listening to more than just a few dozen songs – will be best suited to taking advantage of the phone’s expandable storage option.

The phone spurs to life smoothly and behaves with seemingly no lag. Apps like Instagram scroll smoothly and games like Need For Speed perform with ease.

The full HD 1920×1080 HD screen reproduces colourful images, perhaps with not as much contrast as competitors – but it’s definitely sharp at 401 ppi.

Users will find the volume rocker on the right and the power rocker on the left edge. This may take some time to get used to, particularly for those accustomed to phones in which this is switched (as many will find).

Speaking of audio, the Idol 3 has stereo speakers above and below the 5.5-inch screen. This arrangement, not often found on smartphones, is a pleasant surprise. It helps music videos come to life and provides for a more immersive gaming experience.

It’s also a feature that makes the Idol 3 “reversible” – in a way, it’s never upside down.

As is the case with other inexpensive Android phones, the rear-facing camera isn’t spectacular.

With the Idol 3, Alcatel is using a 13-megapixel image sensor coupled to a fast f2.0 lens system. It produces adequate images when the lighting is good. In dimly lit situations, images are grainy and sometimes blurry. The 8-megapixel front-facing camera works well for taking sharp selfies, helped by a wide-angle lens.

Battery life appears to be above average and I was able to get more than a day of moderate usage out of the handset. Two days would’ve been possible, if I pushed it.

Overall, the Alcatel One Touch Idol 3 packs a lot of performance for a phone with a mid-level price range. If a great camera isn’t a priority, grab a good quality case and the Idol 3 is good to go.