It isn’t hard to get an Android 4.0 phone under $ 200 if you’re willing to sign your life away with a contract. Getting one that’s worthwhile at that same figure contract-free, however, requires some jumping through hoops. MediaTek must be an acrobat, as it just released the MT6577, a chip design for the most entry level of smartphones. The part’s frugal focus doesn’t keep it from stuffing in a dual-core, 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, a PowerVR SGX series 5 for graphics and an HSPA modem for 3G. Those specifications would only have been cutting-edge in 2011, but they’re very speedy for a starter device in 2012 — fast enough to drive Google’s OS on a 720p screen while supporting 1080p video. The MT6577 is a drop-in replacement for its MT6575 ancestor, and it’s accordingly going to be used very quickly by “leading global customers” this summer. Knowing MediaTek’s most recent clients, that could soon lead to a sea of very affordable phones from Gigabyte, ZTE and others that have no problems eating an Ice Cream Sandwich.