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ZTE Selling the ZMax 2 Unlocked

Monday, 11:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today said it is making the ZMax 2 smartphone available to consumers unlocked. The phone was originally sold via TracFone earlier this year, but is now online directly from ZTE. The full price of the phone is $179.99, but ZTE is running a limited sale price of $129.99. The ZMax 2 has a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen; quad-core 1.2GHz processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage; 8-megapixel main camera with full HD vide capture and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera. It includes Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, WiFi, and LTE radios. The phone packs a 3,000 mAh battery. The ZMax 2 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and is compatible with the networks operated by AT&T, T-Mobile, and their prepaid businesses, Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS, respectively.

Cricket Tempts Switchers with $100 Reward

Nov 20, 2015, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today kicked off a promotions to entice consumers to port their number to Cricket. People who switch to Cricket between today and Dec. 6 will earn a $100 Cricket Shopping Card. The card can be used for monthly service, handsets, and accessories at Cricket stores. Cricket said it will let new customers combine this deal with existing mail-in rebate promos on select phones to save even more money. For example, Cricket is offering the LG Risio, Motorola Moto E, Nokia Lumia 635, and the ZTE Overture 2 for free after rebates. The rebates are available to all customers through Jan. 7. The $100 gift card is only available to new customers.

ZTE Prestige Graces Boost Mobile's Lineup

Nov 10, 2015, 10:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile recently added the ZTE Prestige to its roster of inexpensive Android smartphones. The Prestige has a 5-inch display with 854 by 480 resolution, and is powered by a quad-core 1.1 GHz processor with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. It supports memory cards up to 32 GB. The Prestige features a 5-megapixel main camera with 720p HD video capture and 2-megapixel front camera for selfies. The phone has a 2,300mAh battery and supports Boost Mobile's LTE 4G network. The ZTE Prestige runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and is available online for $99. Boost Mobile does not require contracts. Service plans start at $35 per month.

ZTE Expands Axon Range

Oct 21, 2015, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today made more variants of its Axon smartphone available to U.S. buyers. In addition to the Axon Pro 32GB, which launched over the summer, ZTE is offering the Axon and Axon Pro 64GB. The range now includes the Axon, Axon Pro 32GB, and the Axon Pro 64GB. All three are identical in terms of design, size, and core features. The latter two differ only in the amount of internal storage, while the former has more modest specs in order to achieve a lower price point. The most significant differences between the two Axon Pro models and Axon are the display and processor. Where the Axon Pro models have a 5.5-inch quad HD screen, the Axon has a 5.5-inch full HD screen. Similarly, the Axon Pro handsets each have a Snapdragon 810 processor with 4GB of RAM, where the Axon has a Snapdragon 801 processor with 2GB of RAM. Last, the Axon Pros support CAT 6 LTE and HD voice, but the Axon has CAT 4 LTE and no HD voice. All other specs are the same across the three phones, including the 3,000mAh battery with QuickCharge; 13-megapixel main camera with 2-megapixel secondary camera for depth-of-field data; 8-megapixel front camera; high-fidelity audio capture and playback; and Android 5.1 Lollipop operating system. The Axon Pro 64GB costs $449.98, the Axon Pro 32GB costs $399.98, and the Axon costs $329.98. ZTE is selling the phones directly to consumers, unlocked, via its web site.

ZTE to Let Customers Pay for Phones Over Time

Oct 14, 2015, 7:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 14, 2015, 8:05 AM

ZTE today announced a lease-to-own purchasing option for U.S. consumers. The program is available for unlocked smartphones, such as the Axon Pro, and other ZTE gear. The lease-to-own option is supported by SmartPay Leasing, which will offer financing terms between 6 and 24 months. At the end of the term, customers who have made all their payments will own the device. ZTE says customers can pay off their phones early, though some fees may apply, or trade their working device in for a new one. Leases can be cancelled at any time, though early termination fees may apply. The lease-to-own option is available upon checkout when purchasing handsets from ZTE says customers will need to have a debit card to qualify, and pay between 0% and 25% of the phone's cost in the initial payment. The program is not available in New Jersey, Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Wyoming. The offering reflects recent changes across the industry. Most carriers offer monthly financing plans to help defray the cost of handsets. Apple launched its own financing plan with the arrival of the iPhone 6s last month.

Wireless Companies Agree to Support More Remote Wipe Tools

Oct 2, 2015, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The CTIA today announced that a number of member companies have agreed to take on additional measures to help prevent cellphone thefts. Following recommendations made by the FCC, wireless companies will make anti-theft tools available to all consumers that also respect consumer choice and privacy. All new phones made after July 2016 will "make readily available to the authorized user an option that allows the authorized user to enable or disable the anti-theft solution at any time that the smartphone is connected and is in the authorized user's possession." Beyond this baseline tool, consumers will have the option to use other, third-party solutions to locate, wipe, or reinstate their devices if they so wish. Companies that have agreed to this include Apple, Asurion; AT&T; BlackBerry; Google; HTC; Huawei; LG; Microsoft; Motorola; Samsung; Sprint; T-Mobile USA; U.S. Cellular; Verizon, and ZTE. In response, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, "CTIA members' ... enhanced voluntary commitment to adopt anti-theft features and educate consumers demonstrates their resolve in combatting it. I am hopeful that this new voluntary commitment will make a meaningful difference for consumer safety. As the enhanced commitment recognizes, these solutions work only if they are adopted widely. The FCC will remain vigilant in this area by pushing for further improvements to the theft-prevention toolbox, and also by monitoring closely whether the efforts of industry and others are producing meaningful results." Apple's iOS and Google's Android already contain features that let device owners find and protect their mobile devices. The FCC hopes allowing people to download and use the protective measure of their choice will help encourage consumers to make broader use of the tool.

Cricket Jumps Into 1,600 Target Stores

Oct 1, 2015, 9:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 1, 2015, 12:51 PM

Cricket Wireless today announced a significant expansion of its retail footprint thanks to Target. Beginning Oct. 25, Cricket handsets and services will be available in some 1,600 Target stores around the country. Consumers will be able to purchase smartphones from HTC, LG, Samsung, and ZTE for prices ranging between $50 and $130, as well as SIM cards for BYOD customers. Cricket says the expansion means it now has a presence in 9,000 retail locations around the U.S.

ZTE ZMax 2 Headed to GoPhone and TracFone

Sep 22, 2015, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 1, 2015, 11:42 AM

ZTE today announced the ZMax 2, a follow-up to its big-screened phone from early this year. The phone has a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen, which is smaller than the original's 5.7-inch screen. The device is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The phone supports memory cards up to 32GB. The ZMax 2 features an 8-megapixel main camera with full HD vide capture and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera. It includes Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, WiFi, and LTE radios. The phone packs a 3,000 mAh battery, which is smaller than the original's 3,400 mAh battery. The ZMax 2 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. It will be sold by AT&T's GoPhone prepaid service (beginning Sept. 25) as well as TracFone.

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ZTE Mobley Hotspot Plugs Into Car Data Port

Sep 8, 2015, 11:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced the ZTE Mobley, a mobile hotspot for cars that connects via the OBD-II port. The Mobley is compatible with most cars model year 1996 and later and turns on automatically whenever the car is on. It can support up to five connected devices in the car via WiFi. The Mobley costs $100 with no commitment, and is also available for $0 down with a two-year commitment. AT&T says it can be added to Mobile Share Value plans for a $10 monthly access charge. Data Connect plans are available, too, which cost $20 for 1GB of LTE 4G data or $30 for 3GB. The Mobley is a simple hotspot and doesn't offer advanced support functions, such as roadside assistance, like those available via the Verizon Hum.

Microsoft Avoids Import Ban in InterDigital Case

Aug 29, 2015, 9:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft escaped what could have been a harmful ban on its devices as the U.S. International Trade Commission decided not to block the import of Microsoft's smartphones into the U.S. Microsoft lost a patent case against InterDigital in April when it was found to be infringing on two patents. The individual trade judge who reached that decision recommended Microsoft's handsets be banned from import. The full ITC panel rejected that judge's decision on Friday, however, which means Microsoft will continue to be allowed to bring its handsets into the U.S. Microsoft expressed relief at the decision, while InterDigital voiced disappointment. Earlier this month, Microsoft filed an antitrust lawsuit against InterDigital, claiming the company charges exorbitant fees for standard-essential patents. Such patents must be licensed at fair, reasonable, and non-discrimonatory rates. InterDigital is a patent-holding company and has had mixed success in suing companies such as Samsung, ZTE, and Huawei.

Nokia Forges China Joint Venture to Win Alca-Lu Approval

Aug 28, 2015, 7:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia has signed a memorandum of understanding with a China government-backed investment company called Huaxin in order to encourage approval of its proposed acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent. The acquisition has already been approved by U.S. and E.U. antitrust bodies, but is awaiting China's decision. The joint venture, named Nokia Shanghai Bell, will mirror one Alcatel-Lucent had in place with Huaxin and may facilitate China's approval of the deal. Nokia will hold 50% of the company plus one share, and Huaxin will hold the rest. Nokia believes merging with Alcatel-Lucent will allow it to better compete with companies such as Ericsson and ZTE, which also provide network operators with telecommunications equipment.

Microsoft Accuses InterDigital of Antitrust Behavior

Aug 21, 2015, 7:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has filed an antitrust lawsuit against InterDigital, a patent-licensing firm, for charging exorbitant rates to license standard-essential patents. The two companies have been embroiled in patent litigation for years. Earlier this year, Microsoft was found by the U.S. ITC to be violating two wireless patents owned by InterDigital. The judge in that case recommended Microsoft's handsets be banned from import. Microsoft says InterDigital is using this potential import ban as a bargaining chip to jack up licensing rates. Patents deemed essential must be licensed at fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory rates. Microsoft charges that InterDigital's "abusive licensing practices" violate federal antitrust law. InterDigital has taken ZTE, Nokia, Huawei, Samsung, and others to court over patents with mixed success.

ZTE Brings Warp Elite to Boost Mobile

Aug 18, 2015, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 18, 2015, 9:14 AM

ZTE today announced the Warp Elite, a big-screened Android handset for Boost Mobile. ZTE calls the Warp Elite an update to the Warp Sync, which is also sold by Boost Mobile. The Warp Elite features a 5.5-inch screen protected by Gorilla Glass 3 with 720p HD resolution. The phone is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and support for Qualcomm's QuickCharge 1.0 technology. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the selfie camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. The phone is compatible with Boost's LTE network and supports HD Voice. It also includes Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi, and the battery has a capacity of 3,000mAh. The ZTE Warp Elite runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and is available beginning today for $179.99.

ZTE Obsidian Lands on T-Mobile August 13

Aug 6, 2015, 7:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today revealed the ZTE Obsidian, a compact entry-level Android smartphone. The Obsidian features a 4.5-inch screen with 854 by 480 resolution and a 1GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB of RAM. The Obsidian has a 5-megapixel main camera with flash and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera. The phone supports T-Mobile's LTE 4G network and WiFi Calling feature, and has Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and WiFi. The Obsidian is limited to 4 GB of on-board storage, but it supports microSD memory cards up to 32 GB. It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and costs $4.17 for 24 months or $99.99 at full retail. It goes on sale online and in stores beginning Aug. 13.

ZTE Max+ for Boost Bumps Up Specs

Jul 17, 2015, 8:10 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 17, 2015, 10:08 PM

Boost Mobile today listed the new ZTE Max+ for sale on its web site. The spec bump improves the memory, processor, and battery compared to original Max. The internal storage memory has been boosted from 8 GB to 16, and the RAM has also been doubled, from 1 GB to 2. The processor has been updated to the newer Snapdragon 410. The embedded battery receives a modest boost from the already-large 3,200 mAh up to 3,400 mAh. The design is also updated, featuring a rounded gold back. Other specs are similar, including the huge 5.7-inch 720p display, 8-megapixel main camera, 1-megapixel front camera, and memory card slot. The Max+ runs Android 5.1 and supports HD Voice. Like the original Max, the Max+ supports 4G LTE, but only in the primary band of the Sprint network, not the two other bands necessary for the faster Sprint Spark service. The Max+ is selling for $199, which is $100 less than the original Max at its debut.

Hands On with the ZTE Axon Phone

Jul 14, 2015, 2:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE debuted the Axon phone today, a flagship smartphone specifically for the U.S. market. It features top-of-the-line specs and a reasonable price point, considering it is sold unlocked for LTE networks. Here are our first impressions of this new handset from ZTE.

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ZTE's Passport 1.0 Program to Help Build Consumer Trust

Jul 14, 2015, 1:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today announced Passport 1.0, a warranty program for its handsets. Under the terms of Passport 1.0, new devices will enjoy a 2-year warranty for parts and workmanship, 30-day buyer's remorse returns, compatibility with U.S. carriers, and the latest system updates from Google. Passport 1.0 will first be available with the Axon, which goes on sale later this month. ZTE hopes Passport 1.0 will give U.S. consumers more confidence in the brand and coax them into purchasing ZTE's handsets.

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ZTE Reveals the Axon Flagship Phone for the US In Full

Jul 14, 2015, 1:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 14, 2015, 1:35 PM

ZTE today announced the Axon phone, the first in what will be a line of flagship smartphones. ZTE will use the Axon brand in a way similar to how Samsung uses the Galaxy brand for its best phones. The Axon phone, says ZTE, was "Made in the U.S., for the U.S." The phone had a 5.5-inch quad-HD display protected by Gorilla Glass 3. The Axon is powered by an octa-core 2.0 GHz Snapdragon 810 processor, with an Adreno 450 GPU and 4 GB of system memory. It has 32 GB of built-in storage. ZTE gave the phone a 3,000mAh battery with Qualcomm's QuickCharge technology for speedy recharging. The main camera captures 13-megapixel images and is joined by a 2-megapixel secondary camera to aid in focus and capture depth-of-field data. The main lens has an aperture of f/1.8, can shoot with shutter speeds as quick as 1/90,000th of a second, and captures 4K video. The selfie camera boasts 8-megapixels and an 88-degree field of view. Axon says the phone has high-fidelity sound playback and high-quality audio recording thanks to two microphones and software-based noise suppression techniques. It has two, dedicated chipsets (digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital converters). The phone was designed with what ZTE calls "Urban Prestige," which it claims "grabs your attention without shouting." The company perceives itself as becoming known for high style. It is made from metal and will be sold in blue, gold, or silver. It will be available via, Amazon, eBay, and Newegg starting July 27. The ZTE Axon, sold unlocked, will cost $449.88. Customers who order soon will receive a free pair of headphones (value $50).

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Walmart Selling ZTE Lever LTE Phablet for Straight Talk

Jul 6, 2015, 12:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Walmart recently added the ZTE Lever LTE to its lineup of handsets for Straight Talk Wireless. The Lever LTE is a phablet boasting a 6-inch 720p display protected by Gorilla Glass. The phone has a 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone includes Bluetooth, GPS, LTE, and WiFi for connectivity, but it doesn't support mobile hotspots. The Lever LTE has an 8-megapixel main camera with autofocus and video capture, and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera. It supports microSD memory cards up to 32 GB. It packs a 3,200mAh battery and runs Android 4.4 KitKat. Walmart is selling the ZTE Lever LTE for $199.

CTIA Says Smartphones Better Protected Against Theft

Jul 1, 2015, 8:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Beginning today, most smartphones sold in the U.S. will include anti-theft security tools. July 1 marks the day by which phone makers and network operators agreed to implement free theft deterrents on smartphones. According to the CTIA, most of the industry has responded by placing remote lock/wipe capabilities on consumer devices. The addition of an activation lock on the Apple iPhone, for example, has dramatically reduced iPhone thefts in major cities. The activation lock prevents a stolen device from being activated by another person, thus making it useless to thieves. Remote wipe features allow people to erase the personal data from their handset if lost/stolen to protect their identity. The major participants in today's action include Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Microsoft, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless, and ZTE. "Today's fulfillment of the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is another example of the wireless industry proactively working together with policymakers and law enforcement to help protect consumers' smartphones in the event they are ever lost or stolen. We will continue to work with all interested parties to continue to deploy new technologies and tools to improve device theft-deterrence tools. We remind consumers to take a few minutes to use PINs, passwords, apps and other device features to protect their mobile devices and personal information." The industry was coerced into acting "voluntarily" when the FCC threatened to make such protective measures mandatory.

ZTE's Axon Phone Swings By the FCC for Approval

Jun 30, 2015, 10:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Documents spotted on the FCC site reveal more information about ZTE's forthcoming Axon phone. The company has been teasing the device on the web for several weeks and plans to reveal it in full at a July 14 event in New York City. The FCC details the Axon Phone's impressive support for wireless networks, especially AT&T and T-Mobile. For example, it supports LTE bands 2, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, and 30 (AT&T's upcoming WCS 2.3GHz coverage). It also includes WCDMA bands 2, 4, and 5, and quad-band GSM. The FCC also reveals the Axon includes excellent support for hearing aids, and NFC. ZTE has already confirmed that the Axon Phone will have a dual-lens camera, 4K video capture, high-fidelity sound playback and audio recording, a fast processor, 4 GB of memory, and a large battery. The phone will be sold in blue, gold, or silver.

Cricket Scores Distribution Deal with Meijer Stores

Jun 26, 2015, 10:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today said its goods and services will be available at 213 Meijer stores across the midwest beginning June 27. Consumers in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky will be able buy prepackaged phone kits from phone makers such as HTC, Samsung, and ZTE. The stores will also sell Cricket's universal SIM card kits for those who already have a compatible device. Cricket Wireless is owned and operated by AT&T.

AT&T's GoPhone Now Selling the ZTE Maven

Jun 26, 2015, 8:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T's prepaid unit today added the ZTE Maven to its roster of inexpensive handsets. The Maven is a rebadged Overture 2, which is sold by AT&T's Cricket Wireless business. The Maven is an entry-level Android smartphone that it is selling for $59.99. The Maven features a 4.5-inch FWVGA display, 5-megapixel main camera, VGA user-facing camera, 8 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 32 GB. This handset also has a quad-core 1.2 GHz processor and a 2,100mAh battery. The Maven from ZTE runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and is compatible with AT&T's LTE 4G network.

Cricket Adds ZTE Sonata 2 to Low-Cost Lineup

Jun 26, 2015, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless has made the ZTE Sonata 2 available on its web site for $29.99. This inexpensive Android smartphone has a 4-inch WVGA screen protected by Dragontrail Glass and it is powered by a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor. The ZTE Sonata 2 includes a 5-megapixel rear camera and 2-megapixel front camera with a dedicated selfie app. The phone has 1 GB of memory and 4 GB of storage, and supports memory cards up to 32 GB. Connectivity options include 4G, Bluetooth, and WiFi. The phone has a 1,650mAh battery providing it with power and supports Qualcomm QuickCharge 1.0 for quicker charging. The Sonata 2 runs Android 4.4 KitKat.

Axon Phone Teased for July Release

Jun 24, 2015, 10:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 24, 2015, 1:22 PM

An unnamed company is preparing to announce the "Axon Phone" July 14. A teaser web site provides some preliminary information about the handset, which runs Android. For example, the Axon Phone has a dual-lens camera that the company says assists with focus and allows owners to refocus images after they're taken. The phone can also record video at up to 4K resolution. Axon claims the phone has high-fidelity sound playback and high-quality audio recording thanks to two microphones and noise suppression techniques. Last, the Axon phone has a fast processor, 4 GB of memory, and a large battery. The phone will be sold in blue, gold, or silver. Axon said more details will be revealed next month; however, PCMag was able to dig up some details that shed new light on the Axon Phone. PCMag claims Axon is a "marketing scheme" cooked up by ZTE. ZTE branding and code is clearly seen in the Axon web site. Further, Axon's headquarters shares the same address with ZTE's U.S. headquarters. ZTE mostly sells low-cost handsets via prepaid carriers in the U.S., but has higher ambitions. The Axon Phone may be an attempt by the company to break into the U.S. market with different branding. ZTE hasn't commented on PCMag's assertions.

ZTE's Nubia Z9 Boasts Bezel-less Design, Hand Gestures

Jun 4, 2015, 10:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today announced the Nubia Z9, a flagship handset that will be sold in the U.S. The Z9's stand-out feature is the 5.2-inch full HD display, which doesn't have a bezel along the side edges. ZTE claims its arc Refractive Conduction Technology makes "dazzling visual effects" possible on the display. The side edges support ZTE's gesture controls, which it calls Frame interactive Technology, such as taking a selfie by squeezing the handset. Other features of the Nubia Z9 include a Snapdragon 810 processor, 16-megapixel camera with OIS, 2,900mAh battery, and Android 5.0 Lollipop. The Z9 will be sold in three versions. The Classic includes 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage for $564; the Elite includes 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage for $645; and the Exclusive includes a fingerprint reader for $725. ZTE said the Nubia Z9 will be available to U.S. consumers online during the third quarter.

Boost Mobile Scores Live Sports App

Jun 2, 2015, 11:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today announced the launch of BoostTV. BoostTV is a video service that offers limited content for free. The video is streamed over Boost's network. Boost is also offering a premium $10 add-on called BoostTV Live Sports. The sports package provides access to a handful of extra channels, including AyM Sports, Azteca America, BeIN Sports, BeIN Sports en Español, Fightbox, Latin American Sports, and TyC. The package also provides access to live soccer matches, such as the upcoming Copa America. BoostTV is available to the HTC Desire, LG Tribute, Motorola E, and the Samsung Galaxy Prevail LTE, Galaxy S5, and Galaxy S6. Boost Mobile said more handsets will be supported over time. The BoostTV app itself is free to download from the Google Play Store. Sprint is offering the same Live Sports TV service to its regular, postpaid customers, too. It is available to most Android and iOS smartphones sold by Sprint.

ZTE Overture 2 a Bargain for $50 at Cricket Wireless

May 29, 2015, 4:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 29, 2015, 7:08 AM

Cricket Wireless today announced the ZTE Overture 2, an entry-level Android smartphone that it is selling for $50. The Overture 2 features a 4.5-inch FWVGA display, 5-megapixel main camera, VGA user-facing camera, 8 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 32 GB. This updated handset also has a quad-core 1.2 GHz processor and a 2,100mAh battery. The Overture 2 from ZTE runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and is compatible with Cricket's LTE 4G network.

ZTE Fanfare Lands On Cricket

May 19, 2015, 3:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless recently added the ZTE Fanfare to its lineup of inexpensive handsets. The Fanfare has a 4.5-inch screen with 854 x 480 pixels. It is protected by Dragontail glass. The Fanfare is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor and comes with 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of ROM. The Fanfare's main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and can capture 720p HD video, and the user-facing camera has a VGA sensor. A 2,000mAh battery keeps the Fanfare running. The device has Google's Android 4.4 KitKat on board. Walmart is selling the ZTE Fanfare for Cricket Wireless. It is priced at $69.88.

Microsoft Loses Patent Case to InterDigital

Apr 27, 2015, 2:56 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The International Trade Commission today ruled Microsoft improperly used two InterDigital wireless patents without permission. The ruling judge said "it would not be against the public interest to ban the Microsoft [phones] from import into the United States." Patent-related complaints are often taken to the ITC, which has the power to enact such bans. This initial ruling, made by a single judge within the ITC, must be upheld by the full commission before any sort of penalty is enforced. InterDigital is a patent-holding firm and has filed similar suits against other phone makers, including ZTE and Samsung. Microsoft did not immediately comment on the decision.

InterDigital's ITC Case Against ZTE Fails

Apr 22, 2015, 3:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The U.S. ITC today cleared ZTE of violating a phone-related patent held by InterDigital. Late last year, ZTE was found guilty of infringing three different InterDigital patents. InterDigital is a patent-holding firm and has filed similar lawsuits against Nokia and Huawei.

T-Mobile Forced to Halt ZTE Zmax Sales Due to User Errors

Apr 16, 2015, 12:56 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has suspended sales of the ZTE Zmax handset because customers are forcibly removing the non-removable battery. The back panel of the Zmax is clipped - but not glued - on. Some owners have taken to removing the back cover and cutting into the device to replace the battery. Doing this is dangerous, and T-Mobile strongly suggests Zmax owners take their device to a T-Mobile store if the phone is misbehaving. T-Mobile complained to ZTE, which is examining how to remedy the situation. T-Mobile hasn't said if or when it will resume sales of the Zmax.

Nokia to Buy Alcatel-Lucent, Mulling Options for HERE Maps

Apr 15, 2015, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia today said it has agreed to acquire Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion. The combined companies would be a giant in the telecom equipment space with more than 100,000 employees. The terms of the deal will see Nokia acquire all of Alcatel-Lucent's stock, as traded in both France and the U.S. The companies' boards of directors have approved the deal, though shareholders have yet to vote on the acquisition. The deal will also require regulatory approval. The companies expect the deal to close during the first half of 2016. Once combined, the companies will streamline redundant operations, but believe the 40,000 research and development at its disposal employees will be able to make the company a world leader in the connected IP space. Nokia-Alcatel-Lucent will specifically target the development of 5G wireless networks. The largest competitors remaining are Ericsson and Huawei, though ZTE, Samsung, and others make telecommunications equipment, too. In addition to announcing the Alcatel-Lucent deal, Nokia said it has begun a review of strategic options for its HERE Maps business. Nokia acquired Navteq's mapping business in 2007 and turned it into a competitive global company. Nokia's HERE Maps are available to the Android, iOS, and Windows Phone platforms, as well as online, and provide robust driving, walking, and transit directions. Nokia said its review of HERE Maps may or may not result in a transaction.

Google Makes LTE Patents Available Through Via Licensing

Apr 9, 2015, 11:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Via Licensing today said that Google has added its LTE patents to its broader pool of LTE patents. Via Licensing collects wireless patents from a broad range of companies with the intent of licensing them at fair and reasonable rates. Google is the latest to add its intellectual property to the pool, which already has patents from AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, SK Telecom, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, ZTE, and others. Google gained ownership of some 17,000 patents when it acquired Motorola in 2012. Via Licensing says any patent holder is welcome to contribute patents to its growing collection.

Total Wireless MVNO Launching Through Walmart

Mar 17, 2015, 12:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Total Wireless, an MVNO, recently launched exclusively in Walmart stores. The prepaid service provider offers a handful of low-cost, no-contract plans in addition to a limited lineup of smartphones. The entry-level plan, for example, costs $25 per month and offers unlimited calling and messaging, but no data. Adding $10 buys access to 2.5GB of data. The company also offers shared data plans for two, three, or four lines for $60, $85, and $110, respectively. These plans include 5GB, 9GB, and 12GB of shared data, respectively. The company also offers a data rollover add-on for an extra $10 per month. Total Wireless' handsets include entry-level devices from Alcatel OneTouch, Motorola, Samsung, and ZTE. Total Wireless has not named its carrier partner, but based on the coverage map it is likely Verizon Wireless.

ZTE Debuts Retina-Scanning Phone Security

Mar 1, 2015, 6:00 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 1, 2015, 6:01 PM

ZTE today announced the Grand S 3, their new flagship phone for China. The most innovative feature of the phone is new technology that uses the front camera to actually scan your retina for security a step above fingerprints, according to the company. It gets a good look inside your eye by turing most of the screen white to illuminate the inside of your eye, while having you look at a green line that bounces up and down, to help the camera see a larger vertical section of your retina. It requires an 8-megapixel front camera to work well. In demos, it took around two seconds to unlock the phone this way. The same technology could be used anywhere fingerprints are currently used in mobile, such as adding security to mobile payment apps. ZTE indicated it may bring the feature to phones around the world in the future, including the U.S.

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Nokia and ZTE Cleared In InterDigital Patent Case

Feb 18, 2015, 1:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A court today said Nokia and ZTE did not violate patents held by InterDigital, a patent licensing firm. InterDigital had filed a case against the two phone makers with the International Trade Commission. The ITC said Nokia and ZTE were in the clear, and InterDigital appealed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the ITC's decision. Nokia and ZTE were cleared on the charges of violating four patents, while a fifth InterDigital patent was tossed. Microsoft said it was pleased with the ruling and InterDigital said it was disappointed. InterDigital beat ZTE in a similar case last year, and is still awaiting a separate trial against Microsoft in Delaware.

T-Mobile to Add 700MHz Support to Select Phones

Jan 26, 2015, 3:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile plans to make some of its handsets compatible with its 700MHz spectrum through a software update. Today, only the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge can use LTE on T-Mobile's 700MHz spectrum. T-Mobile said it will provide the system update to the Motorola Nexus 6 in the early part of 2015, followed by the Sony Xperia Z3 and Samsung Galaxy Avant in May, and the ZTE Max later this year. Two tablets and T-Mobile's Z915 LTE 4G Hotspot also support the 700MHz airwaves. T-Mobile is supplementing its AWS-based LTE network with its 700MHz holdings in select markets around the country. The company is still in the process of deploying LTE to all its 700MHz spectrum.

ZTE Debuts 2nd-Generation Hotspot Projector

Jan 5, 2015, 7:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE unveiled a new version of its hotspot projector today with several improvements on board. This device can project a 720p HD image or video up to 120 inches large (across the diagonal) onto a wall or screen. At 200 lumens, it's twice as bright as the first-generation device, and it can connect to smartphones, tablets, and laptops via Bluetooth, HDMI, or USB. The device has its own Android operating system with a 5-inch touch screen and a refined user interface that makes it easier to use. ZTE said it can be used to stream just about any content directly from the web, including Google Play Store purchases, such as movies and television shows. The device is powered by a 2.1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, has 2GB of ROM, 16GB of internal storage, and supports microSDXC cards up to 2TB. The battery is good for three hours of projection time, or up to 10 hours as a mobile hotspot. ZTE said the device will be sold by the nation's two largest carriers at some point during the second quarter of the year. Pricing wasn't disclosed.

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Hands-On: ZTE Grand X Max+ and SPRO 2

Jan 5, 2015, 7:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Here is a quick take on ZTE's new hero phone for Cricket Wireless as well as a peek at the new mobile hotspot projector.

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