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Alcatel Pop series updated with a trio of decent handsets

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Alcatel may be pushing into the high-end of the smartphone market with the new Idol 4 and Idol 4S, but it’s not abandoning the mid-range either. The company has announced a trio of new devices in its Pop series: the Pop 4, Pop 4+, and Pop 4S. The 4 and 4+ offer pretty similar specs (the main difference is the bigger screen size on the 4+), but the range takes a step up with the 4S.

Both the Pop 4 and Pop 4+ have 1.1 GHz quad-core processors while the 4S has a slightly speedier octa-core system. The Pop 4 starts with 1GB of RAM, with the series taking half steps up: 1.5GB for the 4+ and then 2GB for the 4S. The 4 is the smallest of the trio, with a 5-inch 720p screen, while both the 4+ and 4S have 5.5-inch displays — 720p for the 4+ and 1080p for the 4S. Internal storage is 8GB for the Pop 4, and jumps up to 16GB for the 4+ and 4S, and all three have 4G and will come running Android 6.0 Marshmallow out the box. The 4S has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, while the 4 and 4+ get 8 megapixels.

The Pop series doesn't feel cheap, and could probably survive a drop or two
This shower of mediocre specs aside, our first impression of all three devices is pretty favorable. The design isn’t mind-blowing, but the trio seem reliable. The plastic doesn’t feel cheap underhand and there are a range of finishes available. (Including, according to the press release, "baby skin" — but let's not dwell on that.) You get the impression that the handsets could survive a drop or two without too much damage, and the metal-finish exterior ring on the 4S could help the device pass for something pricier. (It also has a fingerprint sensor built into its home button, although the button itself felt wobbly.) A good comparison for the Pops might be the
Asus ZenFone 2, which had a rounded back that feels very similar. The ZenFone 2, though, has 4GB of RAM and a 2.3 GHz processor, and while the Pop series didn't feel slow when we were poking around on them, they weren't exactly speedy either.

Alcatel has yet to announced pricing for any of these devices, but the estimate is under 200 euros (around $222). If the range can limbo in underneath this figure then the Pop phones (and the 4S particularly) should be worth taking a closer look at.

Alcatel's Pop 4 series