CTIA Fall 2010
Cricket took time to show off its newest phones, including the Android-powered Huawei Ascend. Cricket reps reminded me that a year ago, the Samsung Messager debuted for $150, and it was the hottest device on Cricket's lineup. Today, they're showing an Android smartphone at the same price, still with no contract requirements.
The Huawei Ascend felt big and chunky in my hands on look, but Huawei and Cricket did not compromise where it counts. The phone has an HVGA screen, which is low but not an intolerably blocky resolution. The Android interface, with some light changes to the main menu shortcuts by Huawei, still looked good and ran smoothly on the Ascend. The phone uses a capacitive touchscreen, as well, a feature that many cheaper phones skimp out on. This made the phone much more touch friendly, especially for an inexpensive device.
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I like that Huawei stuck with real, hardware buttons beneath the screen. They feel a bit cheap, with too much travel for quick taps, but cheap physical buttons are much better than cheap touch buttons.
The phone uses EV-DO Rev. A networking, a feature that is more and more important as Cricket keeps snatching up roaming agreements with EV-DO carriers. Carrier reps wouldn't get specific, but they do claim nationwide 3G coverage with 30-40 roaming partners helping out.
In addition to the Huawei Ascend, Cricket reps gave me some hands on time with a few other new Cricket devices. The Cricket TXTM8 II is a messaging device like the MSGM8 II. It's a little more sleek, perhaps even business-like. It also works on 3G networks, instead of the 1xRTT capabilities of the MSGM8.
The Kyocera Zio is the company's first touchscreen feature phone. It will run Cricket's own feature phone interface, but will be stuck on the carrier's 1x network. The package is pretty nice looking, a fair competitor to the more staid Samsung touch phones on the market.
Finally, the Huawei M750 is another touchscreen feature phone. It will also use a Cricket-branded feature phone interface, and it will surf on the slower, 1xRTT network.