The Blu G9 went on sale today, offering mid-range specs and flagship looks for just $130 for a limited time on Amazon, and $180 thereafter. The phone has a metallic frame and glass-like metallic back with color gradient. Its 6.3-inch HD screen has a small notch and a 19:9 aspect ratio. Its large 4,000 mAh battery supports fast charging via USB-C. It also has dual rear cameras, Android 9 (Pie), a MediaTek Helio P22 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of storage. It also has a fingerprint reader, 3.5mm audio jack, and memory card slot. The G9, an unlocked phone, has Cat. 6 LTE in bands 2, 4, 5, 12, and 13, providing basic support for AT&T and T-Mobile networks.
Cricket has announced new service plans that include only data and messaging, with no access to voice service. With the plans, messaging (SMS and MMS) is unlimited, but international service is not included. Data allotments are for high-speed data at the full speed of AT&T's LTE network, instead of capped at 8 Mbps as with Cricket's other plans. Streaming video is limited to SD quality by default, although HD can be enabled. The plans cost: $25/month for 3 GB of data, $35 for 10 GB, and $70 for 30 GB. A $5/month discount is available for the top plan when using AutoPay, making it $65/month. Add-ons are also available for even more data: $5 for an extra 2 GB or $10 for 5 GB. Cricket is also launching the Cricket Turbo Hotspot, a new mobile hotspot made by Netgear, for $120. Lastly, customers who switch to Cricket can take $200 off a Samsung Galaxy S10, or get the Samsung Galaxy J2 Pure for free.
The new Alcatel 1s, 3, and 3L improve the specs of Alcatel's most affordable Android phones with features like more RAM, and taller displays with a notch. Although these specific models aren't coming to the US, such models often come to the US as carrier-exclusive models with minor spec changes.
- 1s: Similar to the 1x announced at CES, (which came to Cricket as the Onyx,) but with 3 GB of RAM, automatic scene detection in the camera app, an octa-core processor (Spreadtrum SC9863A), and Android 9 (Pie). Like the 1x, it has a 5.5" tall (2:1 ratio) HD display, dual rear cameras, and a fingerprint reader.
- 3: Has a taller (19.5:9) display thanks to a small notch for the selfie camera. It's also HD and measures 5.9 inches. It comes in two mirrored gradient finishes: blue-purple and black-blue. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 processor and 3 GB of RAM. It has dual rear cameras, a fingerprint reader, and a 3,500 mAh battery. It also has both a memory card slot and 3.5mm audio jack.
- 3L: Identical to the 3, but with 2GB of RAM and a textured back. Some versions leave out the fingerprint reader as well. (not shown)
Moto's new g-series phones bring up-to-date features, upgraded specs, and clean Google software to three models ranging from $200 to $300. This year's series moves to a notched-screen design, steps up to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor, and supports USB-C across the board. They will all launch with Android 9 (Pie). All three will eventually come to US carriers, most by this spring.
- Moto g7 play: The most affordable at $199, it has a 5.7" HD display, 3,000 mAh battery, fast charging, fingerprint reader, 13 megapixel camera, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, memory card slot, 3.5mm headset jack, and FM radio. It will be available from Boost, Virgin, US Cellular, Ting, and Republic, as well as unlocked from most major retailers.
- Moto g7 power: The main feature is its huge 5,000 mAh battery, which Motorola claims will last for three days. It builds on the specs of the g7 play, stepping up to a larger 6.2" display, 3 GB of RAM, and a higher-quality 12-megapixel camera. It will be available for $249 from Verizon, T-Mobile, Metro, Cricket, Xfinity Mobile, Republic, Ting, and Consumer Cellular, as well as unlocked from most major retailers.
- Moto g7: Higher-end but with a normal-size (3,000 mAh) battery, this flagship of the g series has a curved glass back, full-HD 6.2" display with a smaller notch, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, 4K video capture, and dual cameras for portrait effects. It also has a more advanced camera app, with new features like automatic group smile capture, hi-res digital zoom using multiple frames, hyperlapse video, and RAW output. The camera also integrates with YouTube Live and Google Lens. It will be available unlocked from most major retailers for $299 this spring, followed by launches with Google Fi, Republic Wireless, and Ting.
Nokia phones are back on US carrier store shelves as of today. The Nokia 3.1 Plus goes on sale today with Cricket, and Verizon will start selling the Nokia 2 V on January 31st. The announcement was made today by HMD Global, the independent company formed by ex-Nokia employees when Nokia stopped making its own phones. HMD licenses and has exclusive use of the Nokia brand for phones. The company plans additional phones for US carriers this year. "Our approach to operator relationships is not transactional — our users will see more devices at different price points launching with our prepaid and post-paid wireless prover [sic] partners and on the open market", said Maurizio Angelone, Vice President Americas for HMD Global. The Nokia 3.1 Plus has a tall (2:1) 6-inch HD screen, 3,500 mAh battery, fingerprint reader, NFC, and Snapdragon 439 processor with 2 GB RAM. It has dual rear cameras including a 13 megapixel main sensor. It sells for $160 from Cricket. The Nokia 2 V has a huge 4,000 mAh battery for "two-day battery life". It also has a 5.5-inch HD display, Snapdragon 425 processor, 8 megapixel main camera, and 8 GB storage plus a memory card slot. Pricing was not announced for the 2 V.
The Alcatel Onyx for Cricket has a fingerprint reader, dual rear cameras, a tall 2:1 display, and sells for $120. It's based on the Alcatel 1x that was launched at CES a few weeks ago. The Onyx does have a fingerprint reader (not all versions of the 1x do). The Onyx also has 32 GB of internal storage instead of the standard 16 GB on the 1x. Otherwise, the Onyx is identical to the 1x. The phone has a 5.5-inch HD display, 3,000 mAh battery, memory card slot, 3.5mm audio jack, and FM radio. Its 13-megapixel main camera is aided by a 2-megapixel depth camera for portrait effects, the focus of which can be adjusted after the photo is taken. The front camera is 5 megapixel. The Onyx comes with Android 8.1 (Oreo). Alcatel and Cricket announced the Onyx today and it's available now, in "Suede Black".
Blu today revealed the Vivo Go, a sub-$100 smartphone that runs the Go Edition of Android 9 Pie. Android Go focuses on delivering the core Android experience through lightweight versions of Google's apps. The phone has a curved glass front, mirrored frame, and metal-plated rear panel. The Vivo Go includes a 6-inch, HD+ (1,440 by 720p) screen with a 2:1 aspect ratio. It is powered by a 1.5 GHz quad-core MediaTek chipset with 1 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. The phone supports microSD memory cards up to 64 GB. Blu paired an 8-megapixel main sensor with a VGA secondary sensor on the rear. The dual-camera setup supports adjustable depth-of-field portrait shooting. The selfie camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and a flash of its own. Other features include a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB, and basic support for AT&T/Cricket Wireless and T-Mobile/Metro. The Blu Vivo Go goes on sale via Amazon.com today for $80. It will be available briefly at a price of $60 upon launch.
Cricket Wireless today said customers will be able to buy the Samsung Galaxy A6 starting November 2. The phone is already available from Cricket parent AT&T, as well as Sprint and Sprint-operated Boost Mobile. The Galaxy A6 is an affordable mid-range device with a 5.6-inch screen with Gorilla Glass 5, octa-core Exynos processor, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and front/rear 16-megapixel cameras. Other features include a fingerprint reader, microSD card support, LTE 4G, and a 3,000mAh battery. Cricket says the Samsung Galaxy A6 will cost "less than $400." Other carriers are selling it for $385.
Emblem Solutions revealed itself today and says it will make smartphones, tablets, and feature phones for AT&T beginning next year. The new company is acting as a white label manufacturer and will supply devices exclusively to AT&T, AT&T Prepaid, and Cricket Wireless. AT&T has a financial stake in the company and placed two of its own employees on Emblem's board of directors. Emblem says it has a diverse set of manufacturing facilities, located in India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. The two companies expect the first AT&T-branded device from Emblem to reach the market by the end of 2019. AT&T didn't indicate what type of device Emblem will supply first. AT&T isn't the first to offer branded devices made by a white label manufacturer. Both T-Mobile and Verizon have sold phones under their own brand name.
Cricket Wireless recently refreshed its service plans with a new feature to its best unlimited option. Notably, the $60-per-month Unlimited Extra plan is no longer subject to the carrier's speed cap. Prior to this change, Cricket's two Unlimited plans were capped at speeds of 3 Mbps for Unlimited and 8 Mbps for Unlimited Max. Cricket is now advertising the Unlimited Extra (which replaces the Max) as including "fast 4G LTE data." Even so, the small print warns that subscribers to the new plan may be subject to temporarily slowed data when the network is congested. Further, video streaming is capped at 1.5 Mbps, or SD quality. Cricket doesn't say exactly how fast the Unlimited Extra plan allows customers to go. The standard Unlimited plan, which costs $55 per month, still carries the 3 Mbps speed limit. Cricket's 2 GB and 5 GB plans, conversely, may have strict data limits, but speeds are available up to 8 Mbps.
The FCC today revealed the ZTE Blade X2 Max in documents made public on the agency's website. The phone, a follow-up to the Blade X Max, appears to be bound for Cricket Wireless based on branding seen on the user manual and AT&T LTE banding (14/30). Other features confirmed by the FCC include dual rear cameras, a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB-C port for charging. The Blade X2 Max relies on a nano SIM card and the tray also supports microSD memory cards. The phone's screen adopts the 16:9 aspect ratio. The draft user manual makes reference to the size of the display, which it says measures 6 inches with full HD resolution. The manual also indicates the battery may be 4,080mAh, and the phone may include 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. Last, the manual notes the phone's two rear cameras are a 16-megapixel main sensor and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The front camera is 8 megapixels. Information found in the draft user manual is subject to change. Given ZTE's current position in the U.S. market, it is possible this phone will never reach the market. ZTE was forced to put operations on hold for three months after the U.S. banned it from accessing U.S.-made parts and software. ZTE only returned to full operations in July. The company says it still considers the U.S. market vital to its success. ZTE implied it will most likely sell new devices direct to consumers online rather than through carrier distribution deals. Cricket has not confirmed that it will sell the ZTE Blade X2 Max.
AT&T and its prepaid business Cricket Wireless have filed a third lawsuit against people suspected of illegally trafficking cell phones. The lawsuit is like two others AT&T has already filed against several businesses and individuals in New Jersey and Florida. Trafficked phones are typically purchased in bulk from AT&T or Cricket Wireless at a discount and then unlocked without permission by AT&T/Cricket. The buyers often discard the original packaging and sell the phones at higher prices to make a profit. AT&T says this practice "negates the subsidy that AT&T Prepaid and Cricket intended to benefit the consumer." The new complaint was filed this month in the U.S. District Court for the District of New York against CellNTell.
Cricket Wireless today announced several promotions timed with the arrival of the fall season. First up, customers who open a new line of service with Cricket and port in their number can buy the Samsung Galaxy S9 for $499, a savings of $120 off the regular price. Alternately, new customers can snag the LG Fortune 2 for free. This offer is available through November 8. Cricket is offering four lines of "unlimited data" for $100 per month. This plan includes 22 GB of high-speed data, after which the speeds may be slowed down when the network is congested. Cricket's network allows for maximum download speeds of 3 Mbps, with video streams capped at 1.5 Mbps, or standard definition. Last, Cricket is offering customers the opportunity to enroll in Cricket Protect. Cricket's insurance program includes quick and convenient phone replacements and covers broken glass and water damage. Cricket Protect costs $7 per month. The program is automatically offered to people when they buy a new device. The open enrollment lets people who don't have insurance sign up for the program. Cricket says people seeking to add their phone to Cricket Protect will need to bring their device to a local Cricket store for a quick inspection. The open enrollment period lasts through November 8.
AT&T and its prepaid business Cricket Wireless are targeting cell phone traffickers with legal action. The company has filed lawsuits against several businesses and individuals suspected of trafficking new prepaid cellphones. Trafficked phones are typically purchased in bulk from AT&T or Cricket Wireless at a discount and then unlocked without permission by AT&T/Cricket. The buyers often discard the original packaging and sell the phones at higher prices to make a profit. AT&T says this practice "negates the subsidy that AT&T Prepaid and Cricket intended to benefit the consumer." The lawsuits, filed with the U.S. district court in New Jersey, target US Mobile Pros LLC and Maz Wireless, LLC.
Asus recently revealed the ZenFone Live L1, a Best Buy exclusive that runs Google's Android Go platform. Android 8 Oreo Go is a pared-down version of Android that's able to run on devices with limited memory. The Live L1 features a 5.5-inch LCD screen with HD+ resolution at an 18:9 aspect ratio. The phone is powered by a 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 425 processor, which is paired with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. The Live L1 supports memory cards up to 1 TB. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor, while the selfie camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery, Bluetooth, WiFi, FM radio, and microUSB. The phone accommodates up to two SIM cards and functions on GSM/LTE networks such as those operated by AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS. Best Buy is selling the Asus ZenFone Live L1 unlocked for $109.99.
Cricket Wireless will soon kick off sales of the LG Stylo 4, a rebadged variant of the LG Q Stylus announced earlier this month. The Stylo 4 includes a stylus and has a metal body with mil-spec 810G for protection against abuse and IP68 protection against water and dust. The Stylo 4 has a 6.2-inch screen with LG's 2:1 Full Vision (2,160 x 1,080) resolution. The phone is powered by a 1.8 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 450 processor with 3 GB of memory and 32 GB of storage. The phone comes with a 13-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel front camera with a wide-angle lens. The Stylo 4 has a 3,300mAh battery and specs including USB-C, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, wifi, and LTE 4G. The fingerprint scanner is located on the rear surface. The phone ships with Android 8 Oreo and LG's pen-based software tools, such as memos and notes. Cricket Wireless will sell the phone starting June 29 for $229. The phone is already available from MetroPCS.
Cricket Wireless today kicked off sales of the Motorola Moto E5 Supra, which is a renamed E5 Plus. The E5 Supra includes a 6-inch screen, Snapdragon 435 processor, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. It packs a 5,000mAh battery and offers users a 12-megapixel main camera and 8-megapixel front camera with LED flash. The phone runs Android 8 Oreo with Motorola software such as Moto Display and Moto Actions for managing the lock screen and improving usability. The phone is available online and in stores for $180.
Cricket Wireless today kicked off sales of the Moto E5 Cruise, a rebadged version of the Moto E5 Play. The Moto E5 Cruise has a 5.2-inch display with 720p HD resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio shape. The Snapdragon 427 processor is accompanied by 2 of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The cameras are 8 megapixel on back with full HD video capture and 5 megapixel up front. The E5 Cruise has dual-band Wi-Fi, a fingerprint reader, and gesture shortcuts. It packs a 2,800mAh battery and is resistant to splashes. Cricket is selling the Moto E5 Cruise for $99.99.
TCL today announced that its Alcatel 1x phone, an entry-level Android device that runs Android 8.1 Oreo Go Edition, will be available from Amazon.com starting the first week of June. The unlocked device is priced at $99. It will reach Best Buy and Walmart later in the month. The 1x has a 2:1 ratio 5.3-inch screen with 960 by 480 resolution and it is powered by a quad-core MediaTek processor clocked at 1.28 GHz. The phone ships with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor, while the user-facing camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Other hardware features include Cat 4 LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi; microUSB and memory card slot; and a 2,420mAh battery. The Alcatel 1X includes a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. It includes Go-optimized versions of core apps, including Google Assistant Go, Google Go, Files Go, Google Maps Go, YouTube Go, and Gmail Go, as well as performance optimizations to Chrome, Google Play, and Gboard. The Android Go platform is designed to run on low-spec'd hardware. The Alcatel 1x includes modest support for AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS, though it lacks the newest LTE bands.
Blu Products today announced the Pure View, a premium handset that adopts modern design aesthetics and features. The Pure View has a metal frame and ultraviolet battery cover on the rear in midnight black. The phone has a 5.7-inch HD+ display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. The Pure View is powered by a 1.3 GHz MediaTek octa-core processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The phone features a 13-megapixel main camera at f/2.2 on the rear with flash and dual selfie cameras on the front with flash. Both front cameras have 8-megapixel sensors, one with a standard-view lens and the other with a 120-degree wide-angle lens at f/2.2. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery with rapid charging, fingerprint scanner, face unlock, memory card slot, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, WiFi, and microUSB. The phone is sold unlocked with modest support for AT&T/Cricket Wireless and T-Mobile/MetroPCS. The Blu Pure View retails at $199, but Amazon.com is offering it for $129 for a limited time.
ZTE has all but shut down in the wake of a government-issued ban that prevents U.S. companies from selling ZTE hardware or software. "As a result of the Denial Order, the major operating activities of the company have ceased," said ZTE in exchange filings. "As of now, the company maintains sufficient cash and strictly adheres to its commercial obligations subject to compliance with laws and regulations." The company has maintained some staff in order to fight the ban. It is talking to the U.S. "in order to facilitate the modification or reversal of the Denial Order by the U.S. government and forge a positive outcome in the development of matters." The company didn't spell out details of its operations shutdown. ZTE enjoyed success in the U.S. over the last few years where it found a niche selling low-priced, big-screened Android phones via prepaid carriers MetroPCS and Cricket Wireless. The company's U.S. partners have been silent on its fate since the ban was first ordered. Speaking on the sidelines of the Google I/O developer conference, one Google executive said the situation "was bad for Android."
ZTE today said it is preparing to take "certain actions" within the scope of U.S. law to fight the Commerce Department's ban against the company. Earlier this month, the Commerce Department banned U.S. companies from selling ZTE hardware or software, such as mobile processors and the Android operating system, for a period of seven years. The move puts ZTE's survival as a phone company at critical risk. Without access to Android, in particular, ZTE will not be able to sell phones in the U.S., where it has found a comfortable niche with prepaid carriers including Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS. The ban was put into effect because ZTE broke a 2017 settlement agreement concerning its sale of forbidden items to Iran. ZTE did not spell out exactly what actions it will take. Late last week a member of the Commerce Department said it will allow ZTE to argue its case via unofficial channels.
Cricket Wireless today said its service plans have new names. The new names corresponded to changes the company made to its service offerings on April 22. For the sake of clarity, the former Cricket Unlimited plan is now called the Cricket Unlimited Max plan. It costs $60 per month and provides unlimited high-speed data (up to 22 GB per month) with unlimited calls, texts, and picture messages between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The Cricket Unlimited 2 plan is now called Cricket Unlimited. This plan costs $55 per month and provides unlimited data at speeds up to 3Mbps, and video streams capped at SD quality (480p). Like the Max plan, the Unlimited plan provides unlimited calls, texts, and picture messages between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Cricket subscribers can save $5 per month on either plan if they enroll in autopay. These new plans are available now.
Cricket Wireless today rolled out a new referral program that will net people free service. The new Refer A Friend program lets customers and their friends receive a credit after 60 days as long as both accounts are kept active. Cricket customers send a unique referral code to their friend through the myCricket app and the app then sends a text when the account credit is applied. Cricket says the credit can be used towards service, features, and other account costs. The new Refer A Friend program kicks off April 22.
Cricket Wireless today kicked off sales of the LG Fortune 2, an affordable Android phone. The Fortune 2 is a rebadged variant of the K8 (2018) and Tribute Defiant (sold by Boost Mobile). The Fortune 2 includes a 5-inch HD screen, quad-core MediaTek processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. The Fortune 2 has an 8-megapixel main camera with LED flash, a 5-megapixel front camera, and a removable 2,500mAh battery. Other features include LTE 4G with HD Voice, WiFi with mobile hotspot and WiFi Calling, Bluetooth 4.2, and GPS. It runs Android 7.1 Nougat. Cricket Wireless is selling the LG Fortune 2 for $100.
Cricket Wireless today kicked off a new promotion that drops the price of some smartphones to $19. Customers who switch to Cricket between March 9 and March 16 can buy the Samsung Galaxy Halo 16GB or 32GB, Samsung Amp Prime 2, LG X Charge, LG Stylo 3, or the HTC Desire 555 for $19. Cricket says the promotion is to celebrate its 19th birthday. A number of other promotions are still available and can be combined with the $19 phone offer. For example, customers who switch to Cricket and sign up for the Unlimited 2 plan (normally $55/month) can get a $10 bill credit each month for up to a year, in addition to a $5 monthly Auto Pay credit. These discounts drop the monthly cost to $40. The Unlimited 2 plan offers unlimited calls, messages, and data in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. The company is also offering four lines on the Unlimited 2 Plan for $100. Details are available on Cricket's web site.
All four major carriers in the U.S. plan to sell the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ beginning in March. Preorders for the phones kick off March 2 and the handset is expected to be available in stores on March 16. Samsung itself is selling the unlocked version via its web site. The S9 costs $720 and the S9+ costs $840. Customers can apply for financing from Samsung to break down the cost of the phone over 24 months. Samsung is offering app to $350 off the price with a qualifying trade-in. Pricing from U.S. carriers varies significantly.
- AT&T: AT&T is asking subscribers to its AT&T Next plans to pay $26.34 per month for 30 months for the S9 (total: $790), or $30.50 per month for 30 months for the S9+ (total: $915). AT&T says business customers can get a $150 activation credit with they by the S9 or S9+ on an installment plan. The devices support Band 14, and thus the AT&T-run FirstNet public safety network. AT&T's prepaid brand, Cricket Wireless, plans to sell the Galaxy S9 and S9+ at full cost.
- Sprint: Sprint is selling the S9 for $33.00 per month with $0 down on a Sprint Flex lease (total: $792). The Galaxy S9+ will be $38.00 per month with $0 down on a Sprint Flex lease (total: $912).
- T-Mobile: T-Mobile is asking customers to pay $30 per month for 24 months for the S9 with $0 down (total: $720), and $30 per month for 24 months for the S9+ with $120 down (total: $840) For a limited time, postpaid customers can get up to $360 off either phone with a qualifying trade-in when the S9 or S9+ is purchased on an equipment installment plan. T-Mobile's prepaid brand, MetroPCS, will sell the Galaxy S9 starting March 16 for full price.
- Verizon Wireless: Last, Verizon Wireless is charging $33.33 per month for 24 months for the S9 (total: $799) and $38.74 per month for 24 months for the S9+ (total: $930). Customers who switch to Verizon, port in their line, and trade in an old phone may get up to $500 in bill credits towards the purchase of a Galaxy S9 or S9+.
ZTE says American consumers have no reason to fear its cell phones. The company issued a statement after the heads of the FBI, CIA, NSA and other intelligence groups suggested that Americans should not purchase phones made by ZTE and Huawei. "ZTE is proud of the innovation and security of our products in the U.S. market. As a publicly traded company, we are committed to adhering to all applicable laws and regulations of the United States, work with carriers to pass strict testing protocols, and adhere to the highest business standards," said the company. ZTE has carrier deals, unlike Huawei, and sells many of its phone via prepaid operators Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS. "Our mobile phones and other devices incorporate U.S.-made chipsets, U.S.-made operating systems and other components. ZTE takes cybersecurity and privacy seriously and remains a trusted partner to our U.S. suppliers, U.S. customers and the people who use our high quality and affordable products for their communications needs," argued the company. Some in the government characterize phones and telecommunications gear sold by ZTE and Huawei as security risks. Pressure from the government recently put the kibosh in planned deals between Huawei and AT&T, and Verizon Wireless. Moreover, Republican senators and congressmen have put forth bills that would make it illegal for the government to purchase or use equipment from Huawei and ZTE. Neither of these bills has been voted upon yet. For the time being, ZTE's handsets continue to be available in the U.S. at carrier stores and online. Huawei's devices are available online.
Cricket Wireless today debuted a new promotion that drops the price of its Unlimited 2 plan, normally $55 per month, down to $40 per month. The deal is for new customers who switch to Cricket Wireless and sign up for the Unlimited 2 plan. Cricket will reward these new customers with a $10 monthly bill credit for up to a full year. Subscribers will need to sign up for Auto Bill Pay to knock another $5 off the monthly bill, bringing it from $55 down to $40. Cricket claims the promo can save customers up to $180 over the course of a year. The Unlimited 2 plan includes unlimited data, calls, texts, and media messaging in the U.S.; unlimited calls, text, data, and picture messages to Mexico and Canada; and unlimited texts to another 38 countries. Data speeds are limited to just 3 Mbps, and video is streamed at 1.5 Mbps. Customers who exceed 22 Gbps in a single billing period may see slower speeds during network congestion. The promo runs from February 16 through April 12. It can be combined with other offers, such as free smartphones (ZTE Overture 3, LG Fortune, and Alcatel Verso) for port-ins with a new line of service.
Republican Senators today introduced a new bill that would prevent the U.S. government from using telecommunications equipment from either Huawei or ZTE. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton and Florida Senator Marco Rubio proposed the bill, citing security concerns. "Huawei is effectively an arm of the Chinese government, and it’s more than capable of stealing information from U.S. officials by hacking its devices," said Cotton. "There are plenty of other companies that can meet our technology needs, and we shouldn't make it any easier for China to spy on us." The bill is similar to one proposed last month by Texas Representative Michael Conaway and Wyoming Representative Elizabeth Cheney. Last month, AT&T and Verizon Wireless scrapped plans to sell Huawei's flagship Mate 10 Pro smartphone due to government pressure. Last year, ZTE was hit with a temporary ban after it was discovered the company supplied some equipment to Iran in violation of international sanctions. Both Huawei and ZTE deny any connection to the Chinese government. ZTE's handsets are widely available from prepaid carriers in the U.S., including Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS. Huawei sells its phone to U.S. consumers directly without a carrier distribution deal.
Cricket Wireless today said customers will no longer need to call customer service or find wifi to activate a new device. The Cricket Breeze-Thru service makes it possible for new customers to activate their handsets directly from the phone itself. Cricket sends new customers a text message with a web link that takes them to an online setup site. The connection is made via Cricket's 4G LTE network, meaning it is available pretty much wherever the new customer happens to be. In order to use Breeze-Thru activation, customers will need a universal SIM card kit, compatible unlocked phone, a copy of their current wireless bill (if porting in a number), and a debit/credit or Cricket Refill Card for the first month's service. Cricket says the setup process requires but a few steps and should get people online within a few minutes. Cricket's universal SIM cards are available at nationwide retailers such as Amazon, Target, and Walmart.
A handset made by Freetel, a Japanese company, was recently approved by the FCC for Cricket Wireless. Documents on the FCC web site detail a smartphone called the Cricket Wave, though the phone is manufactured by Freetel. The FCC confirms specs including support for AT&T/Cricket LTE bands, a Snapdragon 210 processor, 2,500 mAh battery, FM radio, 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB port, touch screen, memory card support, a rear camera with flash, and user-facing camera. A draft user manual mentions some specifications, such as a 5.1-inch 720p screen, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, and Android 7.1 Nougat, though these are unconfirmed. Neither Freetel nor Cricket has announced this handset and it's possible the phone will never come to market. Freetel made a big push into the U.S. unlocked market in early 2016, but gave up quickly.
Cricket Wireless today rolled out a new promotion that will give free phones to people who switch from another network. The phones on offer are the LG Fortune and the Alcatel Verso, entry-level Android handsets. People who switch can score the two free phones as well as two lines of unlimited service for $80 per month. Families of four can earn free phones, too, with a monthly service bill of just $100 for unlimited data. In this case, unlimited data is limited to 3 Mbps and video is limited to standard definition. Those who exceed 22 GB of data per month will see speeds slowed for the remainder of the billing period. The free phone promo is available through April 12 or while supplies last.
Cricket Wireless recently added the Alcatel Verso, a minor upgrade to the Alcatel Ideal Xcite, to its lineup of entry-level Android handsets. This $30 smartphone offers low-end specs to keep the price down. It starts with a 5-inch FWVGA (854 x 480) display with scratch-resistant Dragontrail Glass. The phone is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core processor with 16 GB of storage and support for memory cards up to 128 GB. The main camera boasts a 5-megapixel sensor with flash and HD video capture while the front camera touts a 2-megapixel camera. Other specs include a 2,050mAh battery, LTE with HD voice and mobile hotspot, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, and WiFi. The Alcatel Verso runs Android 7 Nougat. The phone is available online from Cricket Wireless for $30 for new and existing customers.
Some people who work for the U.S. government don't want AT&T and other firms doing business with Huawei, according to Reuters. Unnamed U.S. lawmakers are "urging" AT&T "to cut commercial ties to Chinese phone maker Huawei" due to national security concerns. The lawmakers in question suggested that AT&T cease working with Huawei on the development of the 5G network standard. Moreover, the lawmakers don't want AT&T or its discount subsidiary Cricket Wireless to sell Huawei handsets. The lawmakers, including members of the Senate and the House, further suggested that any U.S. firm doing business with Huawei may see its ability to do business with the U.S. government hindered. Earlier this month, AT&T canned plans to sell the Huawei Mate 10 Pro smartphone due to government pressure. The two companies were widely expected to kick off sales of the phone at the Consumer Electronics Show. The phone will still be made available to U.S. consumers directly from Huawei online. Neither AT&T nor Huawei commented on Reuters' story. Huawei is the world's third-largest supplied of handsets and the largest supplier of telecommunications gear. Reuters suggests the change in tone with respect to Chinese technology firms comes from the Trump Administration. The U.S. has recently blocked a handful of other Chinese acquisitions, and is actively seeking to prevent China Mobile from dipping its toe in the U.S. market. Last week, lawmakers introduced legislation that would prevent the U.S. government from using equipment or devices from Huawei and ZTE.
Blu Products today announced the Life One X3, a mid-range handset from the unlocked phone maker. The One X3 has a curved-edge glass screen and an aluminum frame painted in matte black. The display measures 5.5 inches and offers full HD resolution. Blu gave the One X3 an octa-core MediaTek 6753 processor at 1.3 GHz with 3 GB of memory and 32 GB of storage. An impressively large 5,000mAh battery lurks within in the chassis to provide more than a day of battery life. The One X3 sports two 13-megapixel cameras, one on front and one on back. Both cameras have their own flash and can capture full HD video. Other specs include Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 12, 17, 28) for moderate compatibility with AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS. The phone ships with Android 7 Nougat. Blu says the One X3 is available from Amazon.com starting today. The standard retail price is $250, but the Life One X3 will be available for a limited time at $150.
Cricket Wireless is offering a number of free and discounted smartphones starting today. New customers who port in their number can snag either the LG Fortune or ZTE Overture 3 for free with an accompanying service plan. Customers looking for something slightly more powerful can grab the ZTE Blade X for $50 or the ZTE Blade X Max for $100. The discounts are available to new customers, though existing customers can get the same low prices if they pay a $25 upgrade fee. Other offers include the LG Fortune (free for switchers, $29.99 for existing customers), the LG X Charge ($49.99 for switchers, $99.99 for existing customers), LG Stylo 3 ($29.99 for switchers, $129.99 existing customers), and the LG Harmony ($9.99 for switchers, $59.99 for existing customers). Cricket says the sales prices are good through November 26 or as long as supplies last.
Cricket Wireless today improved its service plans with more data. Beginning November 5, the $30 monthly plan will include 2 GB of data (up from 1 GB), and the $40 plan will include 5 GB of data (up from 4 GB). The company is also bringing back its unlimited data offering. The Unlimited 2 plan offers unlimited data on up to four lines. The primary line costs $55 per month and each additional line is $25. For example, two lines with unlimited service will cost $80 per month, three lines will cost $105, and so on. Customers can add Mobile Hotspot to their unlimited plan for an extra $10 per month. This option provides up to 8 GB of tethering per billing cycle, after which tethered speeds will be slowed to 128 Kbps. The unlimited plan includes up to 22 GB of LTE 4G data at speeds up to 3 Mbps. Video streams are capped at 480p SD. Customers who exceed 22 GB in a single billing cycle may be throttled when the network is congested. Cricket says additional fees and restrictions apply, but didn't specify what those are.
Cricket Wireless today announced the ZTE Overture 3, an inexpensive Android handset. The phone has a 5-inch FWVGA screen and it relies on a quad-core 1.1 GHz processor with 16 GB of storage. A 5-megapixel camera with flash adorns the rear, while a 2-megapixel camera sits on front. Both can capture video up to 720p HD. The phone is powered by a 2,115mAh battery. Others features include Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, WiFi, and LTE 4G. It runs Android 7 Nougat. Cricket says the ZTE Overture 3 will reach stores on November 10. The phone costs $50, but Cricket will give it those who port in their number for free.
Cricket Wireless today announced the pending availability of the QuickFlip, a simple feature phone made by Alcatel. The QuickFlip is already being sold by AT&T as the Cingular Flip 2. It includes a 2.8-inch screen, 1,350mAh battery, Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor with 512 MB of memory and 4 GB of storage, and a 2-megapixel camera. The phone includes support for WiFi and LTE, and can make VoLTE-based HD Voice calls over Cricket's cellular network. Other features include a loud speakerphone, FM radio, productivity apps (calendar, calculator, email), GPS, Bluetooth, and color outer display. The Alcatel QuickFlip goes on sale November 10 for $30.