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printed February 11, 2016
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T-Mobile Offering Free Phone to New Prepaid Customers

Feb 1, 2016, 9:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile will give a free phone to new customers who sign up for one of its prepaid services. The free phone deal kicks off February 3 and includes the Coolpad Rogue, ZTE Obsidian, LG Leon, and Samsung Core Prime. Customers must select a Simply Prepaid, Simple Choice Prepaid, or Simple Choice No Credit plan valued at $40 per month and up in order to receive the free phone. Customers who opt for a Simple Choice No Credit plan can receive an extra $50 mail-in rebate when activating a second line. T-Mobile didn't say how long the free phone deal will be available.


ZTE's Grand X 3 Hits Cricket Stores Today

Jan 29, 2016, 9:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless says the ZTE Grand X 3 is now available online and in Cricket stores for $130. The Grand X 3 includes a 5.5-inch HD screen, Cat. 4 LTE, and a USB Type-C connector, which is reversible. It has 2 GB of RAM and its 16 GB of storage is expandable via a memory card up to 64 GB. The Grand X 3's 8-megapixel camera shoots 720p HD video, and a 2-megapixel selfie camera is located on front. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor and runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. Cricket will knock $50 off the price for customers who switch from another carrier. Further, people who port their number to Cricket will receive a $50 gift card.


Cricket Offers Discounted Phones to Switchers

Jan 21, 2016, 8:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless is looking to entice people to switch to its network by offering discounts on a number of smartphones. Beginning January 22, consumers who port their number to Cricket can buy the Samsung Galaxy S6 for $399.99, a savings of $100 over the normal retail price. Cricket is making similar discounts, ranging from $20 to $50, available to a dozen other devices, including the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 ($109.99), ZTE Grand X Max ($99.99), HTC Desire 626s ($89.99), and Microsoft Lumia 640 ($79.99). The promotion runs for a limited time. Cricket's service plans start at $40 per month. Wireless carriers are competing for customers fiercely. With most Americans already carrying a smartphone, the only way for carriers to score new customers is to steal them from rivals.


Hands On with the ZTE Avid Plus for T-Mobile

Jan 5, 2016, 10:57 PM   by Rich Brome

ZTE's new most affordable smartphone for the U.S. is the Avid Plus. At just $115 MSRP (and probably less through T-Mobile and Metro) it's quite a low-end phone. Just how low-end does it feel? We checked it out.

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Hands On wth the ZTE Grand X 3 for Cricket

Jan 5, 2016, 8:04 PM   by Rich Brome

The Grand X 3 is part of a growing trend to find new ways to bring premium features and design to mid-range and entry-level phones. The Grand X 3 is an extremely affordable phablet with a plastic body and low-end processor. Yet at the same time, it has the same curved-edge glass front normally found on much higher-end phones, plus an HD display and USB Type-C connector. We spent some time with one.

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ZTE Wants You To Design Its Next Phone

Jan 5, 2016, 6:29 PM   by Rich Brome

ZTE USA today announced Project CSX, "a community-sourced mobile device" that will be designed with the help of consumers participating in the company's new Z-Community member-led forum. ZTE plans to solicit ideas and feedback form US consumers during 2016 and launch the Project CSX device in 2017. The Z-Community will also offer members access to exclusive events, rewards, and products. Z-Community lives on the web at community.zteusa.com, and consumers can also participate in the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #zcommunity.


ZTE Avid Plus Offers 5-Inch Screen for $115

Jan 5, 2016, 6:18 PM   by Rich Brome

ZTE today announced the Avid Plus, an entry-level Android phone for T-Mobile and MetroPCS that will sell for just $115. It sports a 5-inch screen, Cat. 4 LTE, 5-megapixel main camera and 2-megapixel front camera. It can record video at 720p HD resolution. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor with 1 GB of RAM. Its 8 GB of storage can be expanded with memory cards up to 32 GB. It also supports Wi-Fi Calling. The Avid Plus is a follow-up to the Avid, which was last sold by MetroPCS in 2013. It had a much smaller 4-inch screen and was designed for MetroPCS's old CDMA/LTE network. The new Avid Plus will go on sale January 20 with both T-Mobile and MetroPCS.

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ZTE Grand X 3 Is Just $130

Jan 5, 2016, 6:18 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 8, 2016, 11:05 AM

ZTE today announced the Grand X 3 for Cricket Wireless. It offers a 5.5-inch HD screen and Cat. 4 LTE for just $130. It's also the most affordable phone to date to sport a USB Type-C connector, which is reversible. That connector supports fast charging for the 3,000 mAh removable battery. It has 2 GB of RAM and its 16 GB of storage is expandable via a memory card up to 64 GB. Its 8-megapixel camera shoots 720p HD video, and a 2-megapixel selfie camera graces the front. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor. The Grand X 3 will be available from Cricket later this month.

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ZTE Takes On Partner to Fund Nubia Business

Jan 4, 2016, 10:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today said Suning Rundong has invested $297 million in Nubia Technology. Suning sells electronic goods online in ZTE's home market of China. ZTE first introduced Nubia as a sub-brand three years ago. With this capital investment from Suning, ZTE will control 60% of Nubia, Suning will control 33.33%, and Yingcai Investment will manage 6.67%. ZTE said accepting the additional funding is necessary to help push the Nubia brand into new markets, including Latin America, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Some Nubia handsets are already available in the U.S.


ZTE Updates Axon and Axon Pro

Dec 17, 2015, 8:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE is pushing system updates to its Axon and Axon Pro smartphones. Both phones gain a camera quick-launch button, Google security patches, Qualcomm modem patches, and better support for MetroPCS. The Axon's camera should zoom more effectively, and the Axon Pro's camera will focus faster in low light and deliver better white balance. The Pro also earns T-Mobile WiFi calling. ZTE said the system updates will be delivered over the air.

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AT&T's GoPhone Rolls Out Handset Discounts

Dec 7, 2015, 10:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

GoPhone, AT&T's prepaid brand, today dropped the prices of several handsets. Customers who activate a plan costing $45 or more can snag the ZTE Maven for free, or receive $40 off a small selection of other devices. After the new-line discount, for example, the Asus Zenfone 2E costs $59.99, the Microsoft Lumia 640 costs $19.99, the Motorola Moto E costs $14.99, and the ZTE ZMax 2 costs $89.99. AT&T did not say how long the discounts will be available, but they kick off beginning today.


Cricket Offering Discounts On Older iPhones

Dec 4, 2015, 9:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket today announced more holiday promotions that see significant price cuts to its lineup of smartphones. Beginning Dec. 4, new and existing customers can but the iPhone 5c for $179.99 or $229.99 for the 16GB and 32GB models, respectively. Similarly, the iPhone 5s will cost $199.99 and $249.99 for the 16GB and 32GB models. These prices are in effect through Jan 7. Cricket is also offering incentives to people who switch from other carriers. Cricket will sell the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime to switchers for $29.99, the LG G Stylo for $49.99, and the ZTE Sonata 2 for $9.99. Customers who switch by Dec. 6 will receive a $100 shopping card.


ZTE Selling the ZMax 2 Unlocked

Nov 23, 2015, 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 ZTEUSA.com. 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 ZTEUSA.com, 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.


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