POP Astro phone is available at $0 down and $6.24 per month over 24 months ($149.76 MSRP) and this sounds quite nice for a LTE phone on T-Mobile.
What caught our attention is that the phone is using MediaTek's 64-bit chipset, designed to bring LTE to the masses. Qualcomm has been a dominant player in the US LTE market, and Nvidia shipped just a handful discontinued Tegra 4i chips to throw off the balance. This is why this might be a very important step for MediaTek as a viable competitor in lucrative US LTE market.
T-Mobile's LTE service also supports HD Digital Voice anywhere on the company's Data Strong network. The Pop Astro is also VoLTE compatible as well as Wi-Fi calling ready. This is an entry-level 4.5-inch qHD phone with 960x540 resolution, powered by a MediaTek MTK6732 processor clocked at 1.5GHz, with an integrated 4G LTE Cat 4 (B2/4/12) modem. This is a 64-bit quad-core processor with four Cortex-A53 cores and it should offer more than adequate performance in this segment.
It enables low-power 1080p video playback at 30fps, supporting the emerging H.265 video codec and legacy H.264. The chip also enables 30fps H.264 video recording at 1080p. The phone sports a 5-megapixel main camera and VGA front facing camera. It clearly won't win any photo contest, but bear in mind that this is an entry level device with LTE. The phone ships with Android 4.4 KitKat operating system and has 1GB of RAM, along with 4GB of storage that is expandable up to 32GB with a microSD card.
The Pop Astro comes with 2000mAH battery for up to 8 hours of talk time and 250 hours of standby time.
Mohit Bhushan, GM and VP of U.S. Business Development for MediaTek, said:
“With the launch of the Alcatel OneTouch Pop Astro, MediaTek has proven its LTE readiness for the U.S. market. This ensures consumers have greater choice as we work with our OEM partners, like Alcatel OneTouch, to put premium technology in the hands of everyone, everywhere.”
MediaTek's latest 64-bit processors like the MT6752 and MT6732 have already scored numerous design wins in Asia, where they already brough LTE to mainstream phones. However, the humble Pop Astro is the first LTE phone powered by MediaTek silicon to be embraced by a major US network.
We suspect it won't be the last.