ZTE today began pushing Android 7.1.1 to its Axon 7 Mini smartphone. Like the same update that reached the larger Axon 7 earlier this year, today's update for the Axon 7 Mini adds support for T-Mobile WiFi Calling; a wider selection of gender-balanced emoji and GIFs; performance improvements to Google's Daydream VR; and the latest security patches. ZTE says it also fixed bugs and tweaked behaviors throughout the operating system. Android 7.1.1 Nougat heralds split-screen multitasking and better power management. People who own the Axon 7 Mini can download the update manually via the system settings tools on their phone or wait for it to arrive over the air.
ZTE today announced two new connected devices for Sprint. The ZTE Warp Connect (pictured) is a mobile hotspot. It supports up to 10 devices via WiFi and has a 2,300mAh battery. Owners can take advantage of the 1.4-inch display to gauge connection strength, battery life, and more. The hotspot costs $144 and supports Sprint's newest LTE technology. The Sprint Phone Connect 4 by ZTE is a home phone replacement device. It lets people add their home phone as another line to their cellular plan. The device connects in the home and makes the landline number available to cellular devices. It costs $122.
Sprint today added the ZTE Max XL to is lineup of big-screened Android handsets. The Max XL, which is already available from Sprint-owned Boost Mobile, features a 6-inch full HD display and 3,990mAh battery. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass. The Max XL supports HPUE for better LTE speeds at the network edge. HPUE is a network upgrade Sprint is deploying this year. The Max XL's main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor, while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. The device runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat and includes a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. Other specs include an octa-core 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage, support for memory cards, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and FM radio. Sprint is selling the ZTE Max XL for $192.
Consumer Cellular recently added the ZTE Avid 916 and Motorola Moto G5 Plus to its roster of Android-based smartphones. The Avid 916 (pictured), a variant of the ZTE Grand / Champ, includes a 5.5-inch 720p display, 1.3 GHz Snapdragon 210 processor, and 8 GB of internal storage. The phone has an 8-megapixel main camera with 720p HD video capture and a 2-megapixel front camera. The phone includes Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, GPS, and LTE. It supports microSD memory cards up to 64 GB and ships with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. The phone costs $80. The Moto G5 Plus, which Motorola released earlier this year, is available for $200 or four payments of $50. It has a 5.2-inch full HD display, 12-megapiel camera, and runs Android 7.0 Nougat.
Cricket Wireless today made its base $40 plan more attractive thanks to more data. Moving forward the plan includes 4 GB of high-speed data, which is up from 3 GB. Customers who sign up for Auto Pay can get the plan for $35 per month. Customers who already subscribe to the $40 plan will be upgraded to the new data limit automatically at the start of their next billing cycle. Cricket is also offering significant discounts on a number of its phones. For example, the Alcatel Streak, ZTE Sonata 3, Samsung Amp 2, and LG Fortune are all free to those who port in their number. These same devices can be purchases at low prices for those upgrading a line. Other deals include the LG Escape 3 for $20, the Samsung Amp Prime for $30, the LG X Power for $50, the LG Stylo 2 for $80, and the Alcatel Idol 4 for $130. Again, these prices are offered to those porting in a number from a competing carrier.
Cricket Wireless today added the ZTE Blade X Max to its roster of inexpensive Android smartphones, marking the debut of ZTE's Blade line with the prepaid carrier. The Blade X Max has a 6-inch full HD display and it is powered by a 1.4 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 435 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with LED flash, panorama, HDR, time-lapse, and manual controls, and the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with screen-based selfie flash. Other features include a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, 3,400mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0, FM radio with Dolby Audio, USB-C, and support for microSD memory cards. The phone runs Android 7.1 Nougat. The ZTE Blade X Max reaches Cricket Stores May 12 for $150, though ZTE says new activations can score the phone for just $99.
Sprint's prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile today launched the ZTE Prestige 2, an entry-level Android handset. The Prestige 2 has a 5-inch FWVGA display and it is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone has two 5-megapixel cameras, one on the front and one on the back. The main camera has a flash. Other specs include a 2,035mAh battery, memory card support, HD voice, roaming in Mexico, mobile hotspot, and LTE 4G. The phone costs $80, but Boost Mobile is selling it online for $52. Virgin Mobile is offering the ZTE Prestige 2 for $50. It runs Android 6 Marshmallow.
U.S. Cellular recently added the ZTE Blade Max 3 to its roster of Android smartphones. The Max 3 is similar to the Max XL in that it has a 6-inch full HD display with 2.5D Gorilla Glass and huge 4,000mAh battery. The handset is powered by a 2 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. The Max 3 includes dual rear 13-megapixel cameras, with one that captures full color and one that captures black-and-white to assist with contrast and focus. The user-facing camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Other features include a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, high-fidelity audio, USB-C, memory card support, and GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi radios. The ZTE Blade Max 3 is available from U.S. Cellular's web site for $200.
ZTE today announced the Max XL, a big-screened Android smartphone headed to Boost Mobile. The Max XL's defining features are the 6-inch full HD display and massive 3,990mAh battery. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass. ZTE says the Max XL is also the first for Boost Mobile to include support for HPUE for better LTE speeds at the network edge. HPUE is a technology Boost Mobile parent company Sprint is working to deploy this year. The Max XL's main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor, while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. The device runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat and includes a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. Other specs include an octa-core 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage, support for memory cards, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and FM radio. The ZTE MAX XL smartphone is available online today at Boost Mobile for $129.99.
ZTE today said it appointed Cheng Lixin, the executive behind the company's North American mobile phone business, to run its global mobile phone business. The move comes after ZTE settled with the U.S. government over allegations that it violated international trade sanctions against Iran. ZTE paid a $900 million fine to make the allegations go away. Lixin has led ZTE's mobile efforts in the U.S. since 2010. The company has grown its marketshare in the U.S. during that time thanks to low-cost handsets, which it sells through pre-paid carriers such as Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS. Lixin's predecessor has taken a seat on the company's corporate board. The change is effective immediately. ZTE has not yet named a new executive for the U.S. market.
ZTE today announced the Quartz, the company's first Android Wear smartwatch. The Quartz offers core tools for a modern wearable, including Android Wear 2.0, LTE connectivity for standalone calls and messaging, and an IP67 rating for protection against liquids and dirt. The watch features a 1.4-inch AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 3 and it is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 2100 platform. It includes a 500mAh battery, Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi. The Quartz also offers interchangeable wrist bands. The ZTE Quartz costs $199 and is compatible with T-Mobile's network. It will be available on TMobile.com beginning Friday, April 14 and in select T-Mobile stores beginning Friday, April 21.
ZTE today began pushing Android 7.1.1 to its Axon 7 flagship smartphone. The Axon 7 is one of the first devices other than Google's own Pixel handsets to receive this update. Some of the features added in the system upgrade include support for T-Mobile WiFi Calling; a wider selection of gender-balanced emoji and GIFs; performance improvements to Google's Daydream VR; and the latest security patches. ZTE says it also fixes bugs and tweaked behaviors throughout the operating system. People who own the Axon 7 can download the update manually via the system settings tools on their phone or wait for it to arrive over the air.
ZTE today said it has agreed to pay the U.S. government significant financial penalties for exporting technology to Iran in violation of sanctions against the country. Specifically, ZTE will pay a criminal and civil penalty of $892 million to the Office of Foreign Assets Control. The company will also be responsible for another $300 million if it fails to comply with terms of the agreement over a seven-year period. ZTE said it will work with an independent compliance monitor and auditor to ensure it meets the required action items to prevent potential problems. ZTE has taken a number of steps already to appease the U.S. Department of Commerce. It has replaced its CEO, created a new compliance committee, restructured its legal and compliance departments, expanded its internal documentation, named a U.S. lawyer as Chief Export Compliance Officer, and trained some 45,000 employees on export controls and sanctions laws. The Commerce Department first alleged in March 2016 that ZTE had violated trade sanctions in place against Iran by using shell companies to hide its exporting activities. The government initially banned ZTE from exporting any U.S. goods, parts, or components, but offered a reprieve while ZTE worked with the government to resolve the issue. Today's agreement puts the issue at rest. "ZTE acknowledges the mistakes it made, takes responsibility for them, and remains committed to positive change in the company," said Dr. Zhao Xianming, Chairman and CEO of ZTE. "Instituting new compliance-focused procedures and making significant personnel changes has been a top priority for the company. We have learned many lessons from this experience and will continue on our path of becoming a model for export compliance and management excellence."
Cricket Wireless today lowered the price of its unlimited service plan to $60 per month for a single line. The plan offers unlimited talk, text, and data (speeds capped at 8Mbps), with taxes and fees included. Families can save on additional lines; a second line costs $50 per month, a third line costs $40, a fourth line costs $30, and a fifth line costs $20. Together, families can get four lines of unlimited service for $180 or five lines for $200. The company is offering a choice of several free handsets to those who switch to Cricket, including the Samsung Galaxy Amp 2, the LG Spree, the ZTE Sonata, or the Alcatel Streak. Last, Cricket plans to improve its service in the months ahead with new features, including HD Voice and WiFi calling.
ZTE today announced the Blade V8 Mini and the Blade V8 Lite, two low-spec'd devices that will sit under the Blade V8 Pro released earlier this year. The phones share a number of features, including metal designs, rear-mounted fingerprint sensors, 5-inch HD displays, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. They both run Android 7 Nougat with ZTE's MiFavor 4.2 UI.
- Blade V8 Mini: The Mini (pictured) is the more capable of the two phones thanks to its octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor. It features a 13- and 2-megapixel main camera combo for advanced features such as bokeh and 3D depth shots. The front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and its own selfie flash. The fingerprint sensor supports a handful of gestures for answering calls and such. The V8 Mini has a 2,800mAh battery.
- Blade V8 Lite: The lesser of the new ZTEs includes an octa-core MediaTek 6750 processor. The V8 Lite has an 8-megapixel main camera, a 5-megapixel user-facing camera, and a 2,500mAh battery.
ZTE today announced a smartphone that is capable of attaining download speeds of 1 Gbps. The Gigabit Phone, says ZTE, is the first handset to lay claim to such raw speed. The phone is able to do this using ZTE's Pre5G Giga+ MBB solution, though ZTE didn't share many details about the network technology involved. The Gigabit Phone itself relies on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor paired with a Qualcomm X16 modem. Together, they can take advantage of carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, and 256QAM to deliver 1 Gbps downloads. In addition to the speed, ZTE claims the Gigabit Phone is three times more efficient at processing data across today's LTE 4G networks. The Gigabit Phone and the underpinning technology will help ZTE and its partners bridge existing LTE 4G networks with what will eventually become 5G technologies. ZTE did not show a picture of the phone, nor state any other specifications or details such as pricing and availability.
Google today said more wireless network operators and handset manufacturers will use Android Messages, its RCS-based messaging service, as the default SMS/MMS tool on their phones. (Android Messages was previously known as Google Messenger.) Some of the features of RCS, which is a global standard, include group chat, high-resolution photo sharing, advanced calling features, and read receipts. It has been improved lately with more interactive tools, such as the ability to check into flights. Google says a number of brands plan to use RCS in order to enhance their own services and help spur adoption. Some of the brands include Walgreens, Baskin-Robbins, FICO, Gamestop, Sonic, Subway, and Time. Moving forward, the Android Messages app with RCS will be preloaded by LG, Motorola, Sony, HTC, ZTE, Micromax, HMD Global, Archos, BQ, Cherry Mobile, Condor, Fly, General Mobile, Lanix, LeEco, Lava, Kyocera, MyPhone, QMobile, Symphony, and Wiko, along with Google's own Pixel and Android One devices. Further, Google was already working with carriers Sprint, Rogers, and Telenor, and today added Vodafone, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, and Globe. Notably absent fro the list of phone makers is Samsung, while AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have also yet to commit. Phones with Android Messages on board will still be able to interact with Samsung handsets and those running on non-Sprint networks of course, but will lose the advanced features available via RCS. Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon haven't said if or when they might adopt Google's Android Messages, though T-Mobile and Verizon already use their own RCS-like messaging platforms.
ZTE can continue to export U.S. goods for another month due to an extension offered by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Commerce Department first alleged in March 2016 that ZTE had violated trade sanctions in place against Iran by using shell companies to hide its exporting activities. The government initially banned ZTE from exporting any U.S. goods, parts, or components, but quickly offered a reprieve while ZTE worked with the government to resolve the issue. The initial reprieve gave ZTE until the end of June 2016, but was then extended to the end of August 2016, and then again to Feb 27 of this year. Now the extension runs through March 29. In prior actions, the Department of Commerce extended the relief by 90 days at a time. Reuters suggests the short, 30-day extension indicates a full settlement may be adopted in the near future.
ZTE today said it is exploring fundamental changes to its Project CSX Hawkeye smartphone and is cancelling the current Kickstarter funding campaign. Project CSX started as a community-based program to create a smartphone with features imagined by the public. The original intent was to bring a crowd-sourced device to market by the end of 2017. ZTE fielded hundreds of ideas from around the world and eventually settled on a device featuring eye-tracking powers and a self-adhesive rear panel. In January, ZTE unveiled Hawkeye's full spec sheet through a Kickstarter campaign and was immediately beset by feedback from the community. ZTE wanted the phone to be affordable to most people around the world and thus designed a mid-range handset with middling specs. The Z-Community, however, would prefer a high-end device. "Project CSX has always been about going against the norm and trying something different. But above all, it’s been about listening to you, the consumer," explained ZTE in a forum post. "Based on the feedback we’ve received on both Kickstarter and our own Z-Community forum, we’ve decided to phase out this campaign; however, this doesn’t mean the project is over." ZTE said it will create the device consumers want, but it needs time to figure out how best to move forward. ZTE is no longer sure it can meet its original end-of-2017 release goal. It expects to provide an update about Project CSX Hawkeye in a month or two. In the mean time, the company will refund all pledges contributed to the campaign. "All of your support, perspectives and suggestions are what has driven Hawkeye so far, and for that we are grateful. We will continue to push the boundaries, think outside the box, and pave new paths to ultimately deliver a device that you want, all while continuing to listen and explore with you every step of the way," concluded ZTE.
ZTE today said it plans to introduce a smartphone at the Mobile World Congress trade show later this month that will be capable of 1 Gbps download speeds. The phone is, fittingly, called the ZTE Gigabit Phone. ZTE claims the phone's raw speed will bring "a qualitative leap to a new world of mobile experience by making 360-degree panoramic VR video, instant cloud storage, entertainment upgrades and fast cache of ultra Hi-Fi music and movies possible." ZTE didn't share any other details about the handset, but there are a few to be sussed out based on ZTE's claims. To start, Qualcomm's X16 modem is one of the only wireless chips capable of such speeds. Moreover, the X16 was designed with the Snapdragon 835 processor in mind. Only a single network — Australia's Telstra — supports such high-speed mobile broadband at the moment, so most people will not be able to experience the phone's full potential. ZTE also said it plans to launch new phones in its Blade series at MWC. ZTE recently brought its first Blade-branded handset, the V8 Pro, to the U.S.
Google today made it possible to view web-based virtual reality content through its Chrome browser. The latest version of Chrome for Android devices supports VR, and Google says a number of its partners have begun to add VR content to their web sites. For example, Sketchfab has more than one million 3D scenes available that range from video games to works of art. The Chrome-based VR content requires a Daydream-compatible smartphone and Daydream VR viewer. Daydream handsets are limited to Google's own Pixel and Pixel XL, the Nexus 6P, Moto Z, and ZTE Axon 7. People who don't have Daydream phones can use their mouse or finger to pan around 3D content directly in the browser. Google says it plans to bring web-based VR support to its Cardboard viewer in the months ahead.
ZTE today made Android 7 Nougat and Google Daydream available to its Axon 7 flagship smartphone. The updated operating system allows Axon 7 owners to run two apps side by side, tweak and conserve battery use, access more emoji, and enjoy access to Google's Daydream virtual reality content. ZTE says the device also gains a new call-screening tool from Hiya, which the company is also making available to other handsets in its lineup. Hiya, built directly into the phone app, is able to integrate caller identification, spam detection and call blocking. The Axon 7 has been available since last year. The phone is sold unlocked and costs $400. It features a 5.5-inch quad HD screen, Snapdragon 820 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 20-megapixel camera, and a 3,140mAh battery.
T-Mobile said its T-Mobile One plan now includes all monthly taxes, surcharges, and fees. The company still charges those fees, but they are rolled into the advertised price of the plan in order to simplify what customers see on their bills each month. For example, a family of four that signs up today will pay $40 per line, or $160 total, with no additional fees visible on their monthly bill. Those fees are now included in the total price. The news was first announced earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Trade Show. T-Mobile has been promoting it heavily via television commercials the last few weeks. In other T-Mobile news, the company's prepaid brand, MetroPCS, announced a free phone promotion. Starting today, customers who upgrade their phone, add a line, or get a new phone number can snag one of 15 different phones for free. Some of the options include the LG Aristo, Samsung Galaxy On5, ZTE Avid Trio, and Alcatel Fierce XL. Customers who port a number to MetroPCS will be able to pick a more expensive free handset, such as the HTC Desire 530, ZTE ZMax Pro, or LG K10. Last, MetroPCS is offering free data to those who sign up for its $50 plan. Typically, the $50 plan includes 5 GB of data. For a limited time, people who choose that plan will have access to 8 GB of data each month for at least a year. Additional 8 GB lines added to the same account will cost $30 per month.
ZTE today said the Blade V8 smartphone announced earlier this month is now available online. U.S. buyers can pick up the phone online for $230. The V8 is the first Blade-series handset from ZTE to be sold in the U.S. The V8 features a 5.5-inch full HD display with curved edges; a Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage; twin 13-megapixel cameras on the back; and an 8-megapixel selfie camera. The phone also has a 3,140mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0 and a front-mounted fingerprint reader. ZTE is selling the Blade V8 unlocked via Amazon, Newegg, and Best Buy. People who preordered the phone should receive shipping notices today.
ZTE today shared more information about its Project CSX handset, called Hawkeye. ZTE created a public campaign for Project CSX in 2016, which saw hundreds of entries. The final design, a self-adhesive handset that can track eye movement, was selected last fall. The device is a large Android slab that boasts a 5.5-inch full HD display. The phone will be powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The phone features two cameras on the rear, one with a 12-megapixel sensor and one with a 13-megapixel sensor with optical zoom. The user-facing camera has an 8-megapixel sensor. A 3,000mAh battery will provide power, and the USB-C port will allow for rapid charging via Quick Charge 2.0. Other features include a fingerprint reader, Dolby sound, NFC, and support for memory cards. ZTE says the Hawkeye includes LTE bands 2, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, and 66 for AT&T/T-Mobile. The Hawkeye, currently available for preorder on Kickstarter, costs $199 and will ship with Android 7 Nougat when it goes on sale in the fall. Right now, the fundraising campaign has generated a bit more than $31,000 out of $500,000.
The V8 Pro is ZTE's latest attempt to bring U.S. consumers more bang for their buck. This model is the first Blade-series phone to come to U.S. shores. It's one step below the Axon 7, with more mid-range features and a price to match. But with fingerprint reader, NFC, dual-camera, and 3 GB of RAM, it's no slouch, either. Read on for our hands-on impressions.
ZTE's forthcoming Android 7.0 update for its Axon 7 phone will add compatibility with Google's Daydream VR solution. The Axon 7's QHD display is well-suited to VR.
ZTE today said it plans to offer its Blade series phones to U.S. consumers for the first time starting with the Blade V8. This large Android handset includes a 5.5-inch full HD display with curved edges and Gorilla Glass 3. The V8 is powered by a Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. It supports memory cards up to 128 GB or a second SIM card. The V8 has twin 13-megapixel cameras on the back, which is a feature normally found on pricier handsets. ZTE says the second camera helps with features such as bokeh (background blur). The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor. ZTE says the 3,140mAh battery delivers all-day power, but it supports Quick Charge 2.0 for rapid power-ups when needed. Last, the Blade V8 includes a front-mounted fingerprint reader. ZTE is selling the Blade V8 unlocked via Amazon, Newegg, and Best Buy for $230. It's available for preorder starting today.
ZTE's crowd-sourced Hawkeye Android smartphone is now available for preorder via Kickstarter. ZTE picked the Hawkeye name for its Project CSX device from more than 500 submissions after spending the last year fielding and voting for thousands of ideas submitted by people around the globe. The winning design, a self-adhesive smartphone that can track eye movement, is expected to ship during the third quarter of 2017. Initial backers can snag the handset for $200.
AT&T is preparing to launch a ZTE smartphone called the ZMax 3, say documents found on the FCC web site. The ZMax 3 appears to be a variant of the Grand X 3, which AT&T-owned Cricket Wireless has sold since earlier this year. Most importantly, the AT&T-branded ZMax 3 adds NFC and carrier aggregation for quicker LTE speeds. The FCC documents don't reveal any other obvious changes between the two models. The Grand X 3 includes a 5.5-inch HD screen, Cat. 4 LTE, USB Type-C connector, 3,000 mAh battery, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. It also features an 8-megapixel camera, shoots 720p HD video, and packs a 2-megapixel selfie camera. AT&T hasn't said if or when the ZTE ZMax 3 might go on sale.
ZTE today announced the Axon 7 (6+128), a slightly improved version of its Axon 7 flagship handset. The new variant includes a Force Touch display, 6 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of storage. The hardware changes push the cost from $399 to $499. ZTE did not say what the Force Touch screen is able to do. All other specs and features of the Axon 7 (6+128) are unchanged from the standard version. It includes a 5.5-inch quad HD screen, Snapdragon 820 processor, 20-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel selfie camera, 3,250mAh battery, and support for many U.S. LTE bands. The limited edition Axon 7 (6+128) is available unlocked online starting today.
ZTE can continue to export U.S. goods for another three months due to an extension offered by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Commerce Department alleged in March that ZTE violated trade sanctions in place against Iran by using shell companies to hide its exporting activities. The government initially banned ZTE from exporting any U.S. goods, parts, or components, but quickly offered a reprieve while ZTE worked with the government to resolve the issue. The initial reprieve gave ZTE until the end of June, but was then extended to the end of August, and now runs through Feb. 27, 2017. The ban would have disrupted ZTE's global supply chain had it been put into full effect.
ZTE today announced the Grand X 4, a $130 phablet, for Cricket Wireless. The device features a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen, Snapdragon 412 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. Its main camera snaps 13-megapixel images with features like panorama and manual controls, and it shoots full HD video. The user-facing camera snaps 5-megapixel images and shoots 720p HD video. The Grand X 4 has a 3,140mAh battery, USB-C, and supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge 1.0 for quicker power-ups. The fingerprint sensor can be used to unlock the phone, as well as launch apps and open the camera. The Android 6 Marshmallow operating system includes Dolby Audio and a number of Cricket apps. The ZTE Grand X 4 hits Cricket stores November 22.
T-Mobile today introduced the SyncUP Drive, a plug-in device for cars that provides connectivity as well as safety and analytics tools. The SyncUP Drive plugs into most cars' OBD-II port and can be used to generate an in-car, rolling hotspot for keeping WiFi devices connected through T-Mobile's LTE network. The associated app also allows owners to analyze driving behavior, track the location of their car, set speed and geo-fence limits, and even receive diagnostic information about the car itself. The SyncUP Drive costs $150, but T-Mobile will give it to customers for free as long as they agree to a two-year service plan with a minimum of 2 GB per month. The SyncUP Drive is made by ZTE. Service plan pricing varies.
ZTE recently released the Cymbal-T, a flip phone that runs Android and includes a 3.5-inch touch screen. The Cymbal-T is a traditional clamshell with physical navigation keys and numerical dial pad. The phone is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor with 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 32 GB. It includes a 5-megapixel main camera with flash and autofocus. The user-facing camera is a fixed-focus, 2-megapixel job. Other specs include WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and support for LTE 4G. The phone runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. The ZTE Cymbal-T operates on TracFone's network and is being sold by the Home Shopping Network with a starter kit, including car charger, case, and 1,200 air minutes, for $99.
T-Mobile today began selling the ZTE ZMax Pro — an affordable Android phablet with a 6-inch, full-HD screen, fingerprint reader, 32 GB of storage, 13-megapixel camera, and Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor — for $180. The company started selling the phone under the MetroPCS brand in August, but is now bringing it to the T-Mobile lineup. The phone also includes a 3,400 mAh battery, front glass with curved edges, memory card slot, 5-megapixel front camera, and FM radio.
ZTE and Boost Mobile today announced the ZTE Tempo, an Android phone that sells for just $69.99. The Tempo supports more LTE bands than many Boost phones — plus WCDMA and GSM — in bands suitable for Boost's Mexico roaming offering. The specs are otherwise what one might expect from an entry-level Android phone today, including a 4.5-inch display (not HD), 5-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 8 GB of storage, memory card slot, 1 GB of RAM, 2,200 mAh battery, and a Snapdragon 210 processor. It does support HD Voice and has an FM radio. It's available immediately.
ZTE today announced that the winning entry of its Project CSX crowd-sourced competition is an eye-controlled smartphone. Owners of the device, which will be built by ZTE over the course of the next year, will be able to control the handset by moving their eyes around. The phone will also include a self-adhesive rear panel so it sticks to surfaces like car dashboards without help. Thousands of voters selected from dozens of initial entries that were narrowed down to five entries this week. "We are overwhelmed with the amount of consumer participation and positive reception to Project CSX," said Lixin Cheng, chairman and CEO of ZTE USA. "As the first smartphone manufacturer to take on crowdsourcing its next mobile device from start to finish, we are proud of how this project pushed the envelope, and that consumers from around the world have chosen to be part of this industry-disrupting process." The eye-controlled, self-adhesive phone won with 36% of the vote. ZTE will work with the winner to design, engineer, and manufacture the device, which it hopes to bring to market by late 2017.
Cricket Wireless today dropped the price of its least-expensive plan to $30 per month. The plan includes unlimited talk and text and 1 GB of high-speed (8Mbps) data. Users who exceed 1 GB of data per month will be throttled to 2G speeds (128Kbps) for the remainder of the billing cycle. The new plan will be available September 9. Also kicking off September 9 are several promotions from Cricket. For example, customers who activate new lines of service will be eligible for a free Alcatel Streak, ZTE Sonata 3, or Kyocera Hydro View. Further, customers who port their number to Cricket from another carrier can purchase the Alcatel Idol 4 with VR Goggles for $99.
ZTE's sub-brand, Nubia, plans to bring its Z11 flagship handset to the U.S. in September. The Z11's defining feature is the unibody aluminum chassis and bezel-less design. The 5.5-inch full HD display is borderless and has 2.5D glass to help make the seams more flush along the edge. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. The main camera has 16-megapixel sensor with optical/electronic image stabilization and the front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor. The device has a 3,000mAh battery and supports Quick Charge 3.0. It packs a USB Type-C port, a fingerprint reader, and a memory card slot. The Nubia Z11 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The price is about $490.