Alcatel's 'Pop' trio ushers entry-level specs

Alcatel brings forth a series of modest, entry-level smartphones at CES. You'll even see one of them in the U.S.

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Watch this: Alcatel One Touch 'Pop" phones keep it simple

LAS VEGAS--With the four smartphones in Alcatel's One Touch Pop series, the handset-maker is going after the entry level smartphone market in the Asia-Pacific regions and the Middle East and Africa. One of the phones, the M'Pop, is headed to the U.S.

Launched at CES, Alcatel's Pop quarter starts off with the One Touch M'Pop, which is expected to reach the U.S. with an undisclosed carrier. This Android 4.1 smartphone has a 4-inch WVGA screen, a 5-megapixel camera, and a VGA front-facing camera. Like (almost) all the Pop phones, the M'Pop houses a 1GHZ processor, 512MB RAM, and a microSD card slot expandable to 32GB. All 3G phones, the Pop handsets have quad-band HSPA support (GSM 850/900/1900/2100.)

Alcatel One Touch M'Pop is U.S.-bound (pictures)

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I focused my hands-on time on the M'Pop. The nicest thing I can say is that it certainly looks affordable. It's got a basic design; the unit I looked at was black with a smooth, simple soft-touch finish. There's no camera flash, which I'd expect for a phone in this category, and the microSD card slot is behind the back cover. Interestingly, the global model I saw here at CES has dual SIM slots, though the U.S. version will likely shed the second SIM, an Alcatel representative said.

Other 'Pops'
Moving on, the One Touch S'Pop (Small Pop) is also an Android 4.1 phone; this time with a petite 3.5-inch HVGA screen. The starter handset also comes with a 3.2-megapixel camera, with a front-facing VGA camera. The S'Pop lands in Asia in February.

Alcatel One Touch Pop
Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Bound for Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, the One Touch X'Pop runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on a 4.5-inch qHD screen. Its 5-megapixel camera holds court on the back, complemented by LED flash and a front-facing VGA lens. The quad-band GSM radio serves HSPA speeds (850/900/1900/2100.) The X'Pop has identical specs for CPU and RAM.

The simplest of them all, the T'Pop ("t" is for "tiny") is way behind with Android 2.3 Gingerbread. It also has a 3.5-inch screen and a 3.2-megapixel camera has no flash and there's no front-facing camera. RAM is even shallower than the rest at 256MB, though its processor and microSD specs are the same as its fellows. The One Touch T-Pop goes on sale in various Asian markets in February.

Alcatel will sell the One Touch Pop series in sober colors like black and white, with bursts of color, like red and blue, for some models. I got to briefly handle the phones. The designs are nice, and definitely not the cheap-feeling blocks of plastic you might expect from an entry-level phone, though it's apparent they're not superpremium handsets either.

The shapes vary slightly among all the models, but stock Android looks terrific on the three Jelly Bean phones. Gingerbread is a disappointment on the T'Pop; I'd like to at least see Ice Cream Sandwich.