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printed October 23, 2017
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ZTE Blade X Is the Latest Low-Cost Option from Cricket Wireless

Friday, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE and Cricket Wireless today announced the Blade X, an affordable Android smartphone with a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The Blade X sports a 5.5-inch 720 HD screen with 2.5D Dragontail glass. The phone is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 425 with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. It supports high-capacity microSD memory cards. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with LED flash and features such as manual, panorama, and time-lapse. The front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with digital zoom. ZTE gave the Blade X a large 3,000mAh battery with support for Quick Charge 1.0 for quicker powerups. Other features include mobile hotspot, HD Voice, Dolby Audio, FM Radio, USB-C, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The Blade X runs Android 7.1 Nougat. It is available online and in stores today for $120.


Hands On with the ZTE Axon M

Oct 17, 2017, 9:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Thursday, 9:05 AM

ZTE is trying something different with the Axon M. Rather than push out another boring slab, ZTE created an interesting Android smartphone with twin folding displays that can be set in a number of different and useful configurations. Need extra screen real estate in that document, or want to run two full-screen apps side by side? The Axon M does that and more. Here are Phone Scoop's first impressions of this AT&T-exclusive handset.

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ZTE's Axon M Boasts Dual, Folding Displays to Create Tablet-Sized Screen

Oct 17, 2017, 9:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 17, 2017, 9:45 AM

ZTE today announced the Axon M, a unique Android smartphone that has two full-sized displays that can unfold to create one larger screen for multitasking and viewing video. ZTE calls the Axon M a flagship handset, and it includes solid specs under the foldable aluminum chassis. Both screens measure 5.2 inches across the diagonal with full HD resolution. When fully opened, the combined screen real estate stretches 6.9 inches across the diagonal with 1,920 by 2,160 resolution. The displays are each covered by 2.5D Gorilla Glass 5. The Axon M includes three viewing modes suited to different tasks, such as running two apps at the same time, expanding the size of any given app, or sharing video with another person. ZTE says a decent number of apps will support the new viewing modes at launch, but it is releasing a series of tools to developers so they may adjust their apps to the Axom M form factor. The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor with 4 GB of memory and 64 GB of storage. The phone supports memory cards up to 256 GB. The Axon M has a single 20-megapixel sensor that doubles as the main and selfie cameras. Imaging features include an aperture of f/1.8, phase-detection autofocus, image stabilization for photos/videos, as well as dual LED flash. The M carries over the Axon line's high-quality audio thanks to Dolby Atmos, the AKM 4962 audio chipset, and powerful stereo speakers. Other hardware features include Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi, LTE, rapid charging, and USB-C. The device runs Android 7. 1 Nougat, but ZTE said an update to Oreo isn't too far off. The Axon M will be an AT&T exclusive in the U.S. ZTE said it expects the phone will reach stores in time for the holiday shopping season. AT&T said it will charge $24 per month for 30 months for the phone, or about $725.

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ZTE Blade Force for Boost Mobile Boasts HPUE

Oct 10, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today announced the Blade Force smartphone for Boost Mobile. This Android handset includes support for Sprint's High Performance User Equipment technology and two-channel carrier aggregation for better performance near the cell edge. The Blade Force has a 5.5-inch 720p HD display and it is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 427 processor with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. The phone supports external storage cards up to 128 GB. The rear camera has an 8-megapixel sensor while the front camera has a 5-megapixel camera. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and FM radio. The phone runs Android 7.1 Nougat and is available online starting today for $130.


ZTE Blade Vantage Costs Just $50 from Verizon

Oct 5, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE and Verizon Wireless today announced the Blade Vantage, an inexpensive entry-level device for Verizon's pre-paid service. The Vantage includes a 5-inch screen with 854 by 480 pixels and it is powered by a 1.1 GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The screen is protected by 2.5D glass that's curved along the edges and fitted into the plastic chassis. On the rear you'll find an 8-megapixel main camera with an f/2.0 lens and flash, while the front carries a 2-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.4 lens. Other hardware features include a 2,500mAh battery, support for microSD memory cards, Bluetooth, WiFi, and LTE with mobile hotspot. It ships with Android 7.1 Nougat. Verizon Wireless is selling the ZTE Blade Vantage for $50.

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ZTE Intros the $80 Tempo X for Boost Mobile

Sep 19, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today announced the Tempo X, an entry-level Android smartphone for Boost Mobile. This affordable handset features a 5-inch screen with 854 by 480 resolution and a 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 1 GB of memory and 8 GB of storage. The phone supports memory cards up to 32 GB. ZTE gave the device a 5-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel front camera. Other hardware features include a 2,200mAh battery, Bluetooth, GPS, FM radio, and of course LTE 4G. The device ships with Android 7.1 Nougat and costs $80. It is available from Boost Mobile online starting today.


ZTE Blade Z Max Brings 6-Inch Display to MetroPCS for $129

Aug 14, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE and MetroPCS today announced the Blade Z Max, a successor to last year's Z Max smartphone. ZTE is making greater use of its Blade branding on value handsets in the U.S., which is why the new phone adds "Blade" to its name. The phone relies on a metal frame and flatter rear panel that is coated with a honeycomb rubber texture for added grip. The Blade Z Max carries over the 6-inch full HD screen with 2.5D Dragontrail Glass of last year's phone, but doubles up on the cameras. The Blade Z Max has a 16-megapixel main rear camera with a secondary 2-megepixel camera to help with focus and contrast as well as create bokeh and monochrome shots. The phone includes an 8-megapixel selfie camera on front. The Blade Z Max is powered by a 1.4 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 435 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, and it supports memory cards up to 128 GB. ZTE says the phone's massive 4,080mAh battery supports up to 31 hours of talk time, and Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 for swifter refills. Other specs include a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, support for VoLTE and HD Voice, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, WiFi, and USB Type-C. The ZTE Blade Z Max runs Android 7.1 Nougat and will go on sale at MetroPCS stores August 28 for $129.


Hands On with the ZTE Blade Z Max

Aug 14, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Aug 14, 2017, 9:37 AM

This follow-up to the affordable ZMAX Pro keeps the huge 6-inch screen, while upgrading a few key specs. It has a premium metal-frame design, fingerprint reader, huge battery, and dual-lens main camera. The ZMAX Pro has been a very hot seller for ZTE and MetroPCS, and they hope to keep that streak running with the new Blade Z Max. How does it stack up in person? Read on for our first impressions.

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T-Mobile Brings Smartpicks to Jump On Demand

Aug 9, 2017, 12:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today improved its Jump On Demand program with the introduction of T-Mobile Smartpicks. The Smartpicks program is a leasing option that lets people score affordable phones with low monthly payments. The company described Smartpicks as "exactly what a huge portion of our customer base are looking for — these are devices with awesome screens, great cameras, and powerful processors that can run all the latest apps." T-Mobile says most Smartpick devices cost $7 or $8 per month with a small down payment. Alternately, the devices can be paired with the Jump On Demand program, which allows people to upgrade their phone more often. Customers who keep their Jump On Demand phone the full 18 months can return it for a new one or pay off the remaining balance to own it out right. Some of the phones available via the Smartpicks and Jump On Demand program include the new T-Mobile Revvl for $0 down and $5 per month, the Samsung Galaxy J3 Prime for $0 down and $7 per month, the LG K20 Plus for $0 down and $8 a month, the LG Aristo $0 down and $7 a month, and the ZTE ZMAX Pro for $0 down and $8 a month. The T-Mobile Revvl goes on sale August 10. All the other phones mentioned above are already available.


Google Says More Daydream VR Phones Are On the Way

Jul 25, 2017, 7:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company's handset partners have new Daydream-compatible devices in the pipeline and there should be a total of 11 such phones available by the end of the year. At the moment, only four phones are able to use Google's virtual reality headsets, including the Pixel and Pixel XL, ZTE Axon 7, Motorola Z, and Huawei Mate 9. It's not clear if Pichai was including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, which are primed to receive Daydream compatibility through a software update. The figure likely does include Google's 2017 Pixel devices, whatever they may be. Daydream has certain hardware requirements, particularly where the display is concerned. For example, the display must be between 4.7 and 6 inches, must have a 60 Hz or greater refresh rate with low-persistence mode, and must have at least full HD resolution, with quad HD preferred. Companies including Motorola, HMD Global, Samsung, Sony, Huawei, and LG all have major device announcements lined up between now and early September. It is possible these forthcoming handsets will be among those supporting Google Daydream.


Cricket Offering 2 Lines of Unlimited Service for $80

Jul 20, 2017, 4:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today annouced new service and handset promotions meant to entice customers to sign up for the prepaid carrier. To start, Cricket is offering new and existing customers two lines of unlimited service for $80 per month. That includes unlimited mobile data, messaging, and voice calls. Cricket caps data speeds at 3 Mbps, and will throttle unlimited customers who exceed 22 GB of data per billing period. In addition to the new service promo, Cricket has a number of deals on smartphones. For example, the Alcatel PulseMix is $80 with a new activation, or just $30 with a port-in. Similarly, the LG x charge is $130 with a new activation or just $100 with a port-in. Other phones with available discounts include the ZTE Sonata 3 and Blade X Max; LG Fortune, Harmony, and Stylo 3; and the Samsung Galaxy Amp 2. Cricket said the promos are available for a limited time.


ZTE Blade Spark Lands On AT&T Prepaid for $99

Jul 14, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today announced the Blade Spark, an inexpensive Android handset for AT&T Prepaid. The Blade Spark boasts a 5.5-inch 720p HD display with Gorilla Glass 3, and it is powered by a Snapdragon 425 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. Standout features include a rear-mounted fingerprint reader and Dolby Audio. The phone also offers a 13-megapixel main camera with flash and full HD video capture, and a 5-megapixel front camera with a dedicated shortcut for selfies. Other specs include Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, WiFi, expandable storage, and a 3,140mAh battery. The ZTE Blade Spark ships with Android 7.1 Nougat. It is available online for $99. AT&T Prepaid was recently rebranded from GoPhone.


ZTE's Axon 7 Mini Wins Android 7.1.1

Jun 21, 2017, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Debuts Mobile Hotspot, Home Phone on Sprint

Jun 9, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.

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Sprint to Sell ZTE Max XL

Jun 9, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Picks Up the ZTE Avid 916 and Moto G5 Plus

May 24, 2017, 3:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Improves Data Offering

May 11, 2017, 11:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 to Sell the ZTE Blade X Max On May 12 for $150

May 11, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.

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Inexpensive ZTE Prestige 2 Hits Boost and Virgin Mobile

Apr 25, 2017, 9:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Lands the 6-Inch ZTE Blade Max 3

Apr 25, 2017, 9:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Max XL Packs 6-Inch Full HD Screen for $130

Apr 25, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.

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ZTE US Mobile Phone Exec Promoted to Global Role

Apr 19, 2017, 7:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Quartz Is An Affordable Android Watch

Apr 10, 2017, 8:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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's Axon 7 Scores Android 7.1.1

Mar 16, 2017, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Agrees to Pay Massive Fine to Settle Export Violations

Mar 7, 2017, 11:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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."

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Cricket Drops Price of Unlimited Plan, Says HD Voice On the Way

Mar 1, 2017, 10:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Cuts Into the Entry-Level Space with Two New Blade V8s

Feb 27, 2017, 4:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.
Both phones are expected to ship to Asian and European markets during the second quarter. For now, the Blade V8 Pro will be the only Blade handset sold in the U.S., according to ZTE.

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ZTE Says Gigabit Phone Is Fast, But Reveals Few Details

Feb 26, 2017, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.

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More Carriers and Phone Makers Agree to Adopt Google's RCS-Based 'Android Messages' Service

Feb 24, 2017, 7:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Commerce Dept. Extends ZTE Sanction Relief Again

Feb 23, 2017, 1:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 to Reboot Project CSX Hawkeye, Pull Kickstarter Campaign

Feb 17, 2017, 11:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.

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ZTE Says Gigabit Phone On Deck for MWC

Feb 16, 2017, 8:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Virtual Reality Comes to the Web Thanks to Chrome

Feb 9, 2017, 1:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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's Axon 7 Updated with Nougat and Daydream

Feb 7, 2017, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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's 'Taxes Included' One Plan Now In Effect

Jan 23, 2017, 9:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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's Blade V8 Phone Goes On Sale Today

Jan 18, 2017, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.

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ZTE Hawkeye Detailed In Full, to Feature Dual Cameras

Jan 17, 2017, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Hands On with the ZTE Blade V8 Pro

Jan 4, 2017, 8:30 PM   by Rich Brome

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.

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ZTE Adding Daydream To Axon 7

Jan 4, 2017, 7:16 PM   by Rich Brome

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.

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ZTE to Bring Blade Series to US with Dual-Camera V8

Jan 4, 2017, 7:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


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