Last week, I wrote about low cost quad core tablets based on Actions Semi ATM7029, and today it’s time to look at cheap quad core smartphones, which are all powered by Mediatek MT6589 quad core Cortex A7 SoC, with prices starting at about $130 US. I’ll start by a short overview of Mediatek processor, followed by a few smartphones based on MT6589, starting with higher priced smartphones / phablets with bigger screens and more features to the cheapest ones.
Mediatek MT6589 Overview
Beside featuring four ARM Cortex-A7 cores, this SoC comes with an Imagination Technologies PowerVR Series5XT GPU, namely SGX544, an advanced multi-mode UMTS Rel. 8/HSPA+/TD-SCDMA modem and dual SIM support. On the multimedia side, it supports cameras up to 13MP, 1080p video playback and recording at 30fps, and LCD screens up to Full HD resolution (1920×1080). It is usually interface with MT6620 connectivity combo providing 802.11n Wi-Fi, BT4.0, GPS and FM radio.
A typical smartphone architecture based on MT6589 can be seen in the block diagram below (Source: hardwarebg.com).
Smartphones based on MT6589 get about 12,000-13,000 in Antutu 3.x (I could not find detailed scores), about 3,400 in Quadrant, and 13,000 in Vellamo 2 HTML5 test. Obviously not the best in town, but it will still beat any dual core Cortex A9 SoC.
You’d probably not want this platform to tinker, since Mediatek is not exactly known to release GPL source code, although some of the customers may release (incomplete) GPL code.
If you find 5″ smartphones too tiny, Cubot A6589 with its 5.8″ IPS display (1280×720) may be an option. This phone comes with 1GB RAM, 8GB flash, 2 cameras (5 MP front camera, 8MP rear camera), and a 3,600 mAh battery. If you want to know what it looks like, just check out ThL W8 below, as they have a virtually identical look.
Cubot A6589 sells for about $260 US on Pandawill, and for about the same on Aliexpress.
ThL W8 is one of the first smartphone using MT6589. It comes with a 5.0″ IPS display (1280×720), 1GB RAM, 8GB Flash, and runs Android 4.1.2. The device also feature two cameras: a 5.0 MP front camera (up to 2560x 1920), and a 12.0 MP rear camera with flashlight and auto focus (up to 4096 x 3072). The battery has a 2,000 mAh capacity.
You can find this smartphone on most Chinese websites such as Pandawill, Deal Extreme, Aliexpress… from $230 US and up. You can also purchase this model on Amazon.
The two smartphones mentioned above are on the high-end side, let’s move down in price and features with Tronsmart TS4. This smartphone features a 5.3″ IPS display (960×540), 1GB RAM, 4GB flash, a 8.0 MP rear camera, a 1.2 MP front camera, and comes with a 2,500 mAh battery.
This Android 4.2.1 phone is available for pre-order for $160 on Geekbuying, and I could not find it available anywhere else.
Galaxy S3 Clone (i9300)
And now the cheapest quad core phablet I could find, after filtering some dodgy results… This S3 clone based on MT6589 costs just about $135 from a somewhat reputable seller. The nameless device comes with 512 MB RAM, 4 GB flash, a 4.8″ display with 854×480 resolution, 2 cameras (1.2MP front / 8MP rear), and a 2,400 mAh battery capacity. [Update: This smartphone could be based on MTK6577, the Antutu screenshots points to this direction, and the URL contains MTK6577 instead of MTK6589 used in the title...]
Those are just a few MT6589 (MTK6589?) smartphones, as there are just too many on the market.