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This phone's packaging doubles as a Google Cardboard VR viewer

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Most companies encourage you to recycle the packaging their products ship in, but Alcatel has figured out a way to let its smartphone box be reused as something even cooler: a virtual reality viewer. According to VentureBeat, which reports seeing leaked information about Alcatel's upcoming OneTouch Idol 4S smartphone, the 4S will ship in a plastic box that doubles as a Google Cardboard-compatible VR viewer. All that really means is that there are two eyepieces on the inside, a slot to hold the phone, and a single button to tap the screen — like all Cardboard models, it's not very high-tech — but it's a novel twist on phone packaging and a clever way to let people get started watching VR content.

The Idol 4S itself isn't quite as special. It's a mid-range Android phone with a Snapdragon 652 processor and a 5.5-inch screen, selling for under $400, according to VentureBeat. Still, the inclusion of a VR viewer is a neat way to set this phone apart, especially as 360-degree videos begin to be supported in more and more places. They're now available on YouTube and Facebook, while GoogleThe New York Times, and a host of filmmakers are creating shorts for VR, too. VentureBeat says to expect the phone's release in May.