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Alcatel Gives Its Phones a Makeover With Go, Pop Devices

BERLIN — Alcatel’s Onetouch Idol 3 is one of the best smartphones on the market, but it lacks a little bit of the energy and style that would appeal to a younger generation. To combat this, Alcatel is launching not one, but two new smartphones lines: one for the active enthusiasts, and another for the finicky fashionista.

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There's more than just a new look for these phones. They both offer impressive specs on an Android 5.0 device with a price tag that's less than $200. At IFA, I got a chance to check out both new smartphone lines.

First up is the Go family of devices, which not only introduces a new phone but also a spruced-up action variant of Alcatel’s Onetouch Watch. The $199 Go Play phone is a 5-inch device featuring a 1280 x 720 display, 1.2GHz Qualcomm 8916 CPU, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of onboard storage and a microSD card slot. The rear features a swappable back plate with a grippy finish, ensuring you never drop the Go Play when it gets wet.

And a wet phone is a distinct possibility since the Go Play boasts an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. This means the Go Play can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes at depths of 5 feet without getting damaged, and you can even snap pictures the entire time you’re submerged since a quick tap on volume down button allows for underwater shooting using either the 8-megapixel rear camera or the 5-MP shooter in front.

The Go Watch underwent a redesign using the same rugged philosophy as the phone, IP67 rating an all. Also, you can now charge it simply using the new micro USB port found on the watch's back. To encourage getting up and about, there’s an Emotional Pulse app that can read you mood, and suggest appropriate actions, such as telling you get up and jam (although what the really means is up to you). Like the Go Phone, you can swap out the watch's face plate or the band with another brightly colored optioned whenever the mood suits you.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the new fashion-forward Pop line fits between Alcatel’s existing super budget Pixi phones and its flagship Idol phone. Pop is highlighted by multiple choices for the phone's back, including wild design elements such as denim or leather. With new backs costing $20 for packs of three, you can change the look of your phone practically at will. At $149, the Pop Star is the more affordable phone of the two Pop devices; it offers your choice of 3G of 4G versions featuring a 5-inch 1280 x 720 display, Mediatek CPU, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, a micro SD slot and an 8-MP camera in the rear and a 5-MP cam in front.

The $199 Pop Up is even more attractive because of its Sony 13-MP rear camera (there's a 5-MP shooter up front), a much faster Qualcomm 8929 CPU, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and a microSD card. Can you tell that Alcatel is one company that doesn’t want to give up on expandable storage yet?

Each of the phones will be available in mid-October, unlocked, directly from Alcatel.