If Motorola and OnePlus thought they could have the leather and wooden customization options to themselves, they were wrong. This morning, Alcatel OneTouch, makers of the popular Idol 3 handset, have announced a new range of affordable and highly customizable smartphones. The POP STAR range was announced alongside the rugged and sporty GO PLAY range and an enormous tablet that’s so big, we probably shouldn’t call it a tablet.



The Alcatel OneTouch POP STAR is the ‘standout’ product of today’s announcements. Alcatel describes it as their “most fashion-forward smartphone” which comes with a huge range of covers to customize it. It’s a 5-inch smartphone with a quad-core processor, an 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera and a 720p, fully laminated IPS display. With the range of covers available, it’s virtually impossible not to find at least one that you’ll like. Whether you want a colorful ‘funky’ case, a glamorous ‘fashion’ cover or you want to go the Moto X-route and adorn it in wood or leather. There’s something here for everyone.

While the outside may be eye-catching, the internal specs aren’t so much. It has a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage and a 2,000mAh battery. There is going to be a slightly more high end version equipped with a better processor and 4G LTE. Pricing and availability hasn’t been confirmed yet, but we can expect this to sit right near the bottom end of the smartphone ladder.



Sharing the POP name, but not the specs is the OneTouch POP UP, a slightly more premium but less customizable smartphone. It’s a 5-inch smartphone like the POP STAR, but has a metal chassis, an octa-core Snapdragon 610 processor, 2GB RAM a 13MP camera and LTE as standard.



Matching the rest of today’s announcements in color and style, the Alcatel OneTouch GO PLAY is the company’s attempt to make an affordable, attractive device built to deal with day to day life. It’s IP67-certified waterproof, dustproof and shockproof. It can survive being dropped in water, being kept in the dustiest pocket or being dropped from heights up to 1.5 meters. What’s more, it has a built in feature that lets you record everything from your phone’s screen as it happens and broadcast it through the baked-in Periscope, Vine or Zello apps.

Like its other product, the specs are very mid-range. It has a 5-inch 720p display but swaps out the MediaTek chip for the Snapdragon 410 processor. There’s 1GB RAM, 8GB storage (expandable) and eight color options to choose between. It has a 2,500mAh battery built to last for 20 days on standby, has an 8MP camera on the back and a 5MP front camera.

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Saving the most interesting until last; the Xess tablet is a product of which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before in real life. It’s not just the gigantic 17.3-inch screen on the front, but rather the entire look and form factor of the device. Built in to the stainless steel body is an eye-catching kickstand which holds the tablet sturdily at 75, 50 and 30 degree angles. Alcatel calls it a “genre-busting smart device”, a description I’m inclined to agree with, although I haven’t decided yet whether that’s a good or a bad thing.

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Along with the giant screen are two 3-watt JBL speakers to make this a true multimedia device, designed to be just as comfortable being used as a portable screen for watching movies as it is a kitchen assistant to show you recipes. It has a built-in stylus, a pre-installed Sketchbook app and can be controlled by hands-free gestures. You can wave at the screen to control it in other words.

For those interested in raw specs: It’s a 1920 x 1080 resolution display powered by a 1.5GHz octa-core processor, 2GB RAM and 32GB storage (expandable up to an extra 64GB). It also has Bluetooth 4.1, USB 2.0 and a 5MP front camera. Like the rest of the products announced, there’s no pricing or availability mentioned yet.

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