T-Mobile’s $150 Astro Pop puts calls and connectivity before bells and whistles

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There’s a new budget 4G LTE smartphone on sale at T-Mobile, which will end up costing less than $150 over a two-year period. It’s the Alcatel OneTouch Pop Astro, and while it may not provide the highest specs around, it’ll please smartphone buyers who actually want to make phone calls, thanks to its selection of handy features.

Available on April 29 at T-Mobile stores, you won’t need to put any money down to secure one, provided you’re happy to pay $6.24 per month for two years. For this, you get the aforementioned 4G LTE connectivity, plus VoLTE compatibility and support for T-Mobile’s HD Digital Voice system, so calls will sound great. Additionally, it’s all set up to use T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi calling feature.

Alcatel OneTouch Pop AstroThat’s the calls taken care of, what about everything else? For $150, you shouldn’t expect the Pop Astro to challenge the Galaxy S6, and sure enough, it’s a basic device. The screen measures 4.5-inches and has a 960 x 540 pixel resolution, while there’s a 5-megapixel camera on the rear and a VGA selfie cam on the front.

An LTE MediaTek MTK6732 processor is inside the phone, a chip which Alcatel says is making its North American debut. It’s a quad-core, 64-bit processor running at 1.5GHz and comes with 1GB of RAM, but it powers Android 4.4 KitKat rather than the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system. It’s joined by 4GB of internal memory, which can be increased by another 32GB using a MicroSD card. Finally, a slightly disappointing 2,000mAh battery provides the energy, which Alcatel says is good for 250 hours of standby time.

Alcatel OneTouch is making strides in the U.S. market, having opened its own online store through which it sells unlocked, contract-free smartphones, plus its first smartwatch, known simply as the Watch. The Pop Astro isn’t the first Alcatel OneTouch phone T-Mobile has stocked either, and it follows the Fierce 2 and Evolve 2 Android devices from last year.