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.
Blu Products recently announced the S1, an inexpensive Android smartphone that's available unlocked from Amazon.com and BestBuy.com. One of the chief benefits of the S1 is its wide compatibility with U.S. LTE networks. It supports AT&T and T-Mobile, and, unusually, Sprint, as well as their prepaid services including Cricket Wireless, Boost Mobile, and MetroPCS. Blu says it also offers SIM kits for the S1 from Tracfone, Net10, and H2O. The S1 features a curved glass front with metallic paint on the smooth rear panel. The 5.2-inch display offers 720p HD resolution in a 16:9 aspect ratio, and the phone is powered by an octa-core 1.5 GHz MediaTek 6750 processor with 2 GB of RAM. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.0 and an LED flash, while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Other features include Bluetooth, FM radio, GPS, and WiFi; 16 GB of storage and support for microSD memory cards; front-mounted fingerprint sensor; and a 2,800mAh battery. The Blu S1 runs Android 7 Nougat and is available online for $130 from Amazon and $180 from Best Buy.
ZTE and Cricket Wireless today announced the Blade X, an affordable Android smartphone with a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The Blade X sports a 5.5-inch 720 HD screen with 2.5D Dragontail glass. The phone is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 425 with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. It supports high-capacity microSD memory cards. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with LED flash and features such as manual, panorama, and time-lapse. The front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with digital zoom. ZTE gave the Blade X a large 3,000mAh battery with support for Quick Charge 1.0 for quicker powerups. Other features include mobile hotspot, HD Voice, Dolby Audio, FM Radio, USB-C, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The Blade X runs Android 7.1 Nougat. It is available online and in stores today for $120.
Cricket Wirelss today said it has expanded its retail footprint to 122 post exchanges on U.S. military bases. This includes 83 Army and Air Force bases, 14 Marine exchanges, and 26 Navy exchanges. Servicemen and servicewomen will be able to purchase Cricket Wireless handsets, including the Risio 2, CoolPad, HTC Desire 550, and Sol 2, at their local exchange and enroll in Cricket’s low-cost, prepaid wireless service. Post exchanges will also offer SIM cards for bring-your-own customers.
The Alcatel Idol 5 is a $200 Android phone with a premium design carved from metal and curved glass. It has a few unique features like a reversible display and a theme creator that uses the colors the camera sees. It also has a few extras like stereo speakers, USB-C, and NFC. It's also designed to work with a new VR headset from Alcatel. We check it out in person and share our impressions in this hands-on.
Alcatel today announced the Idol 5 for Cricket Wireless. The Idol 5 is a $200 Android phone with a premium design that marries a solid metal body with a curved glass front. Its hardware features include front-facing stereo speakers, NFC, a USB-C connector, and a customizable shortcut key. On the software side, it has several features that make the phone fun to use, such as a Color catcher app that automatically picks three colors from what the camera sees and generates a new interface theme based on those colors, including new wallpaper and icons. The 12-megapixel camera includes several creative modes, such as light trace, cinemagraph, and instant collage. It also works with Alcatel's new UNI 360 VR goggles. Alcatel's new VR Home app for the UNI 360 lets you run Google Cardboard VR apps with extra features like the ability to receive notifications and see the room around you without leaving VR mode. VR Home is exclusive to Alcatel Idol phones. The Idol 5 also has a 5.2-inch full-HD display, MediaTek Helio P20 processor, 2GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel front camera, Android 7, memory card slot, and a 3.5mm audio jack. It will go on sale with Cricket on October 27th.
Coolpad today launched the Splatter, a $140 unlocked Android phone available from Amazon.com. It's the company's second unlocked phone for the U.S.; the first was the Conjr. Coolpad is also bringing the same phone to Cricket as the Canvas. The phone has a large 5.5-inch HD display, 8 megapixel main camera, 5 megapixel selfie camera, 2,500 mAh battery, and memory card slot. It runs Android 7 Nougat and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor. It has LTE 2/4/5/12/30, which translates to good support for the AT&T (and Cricket) network, and decent support for T-Mobile as well. It's available now from amazon.com
Deezer this week said its music streaming service will soon be available for streaming on the Google Home smart speaker. Deezer competes with Spotify, Google Play Music, Apple Music, and Amazon Music Unlimited. It offers some 43 million songs, personalized playlists, and recommendations. Deezer subscribers can simply say, "Ok Google, play Deezer" to get going. The service supports skipping tracks, finding song/artist names, and more. Deezer said its music service will go live on Google Home in France and Germany this week, with the U.K., U.S., Canada, and Australia coming soon. The addition of Deezer to Google Home benefits Cricket Wireless customers. Cricket preinstalls Deezer on many of its handsets and offers discounted service plans to Cricket subscribers. According to Cricket and Deezer, the music service is popular with their U.S. customers.
Samsung today added the Galaxy J7 and Galaxy J3 to its list of unlocked smartphones. The two inexpensive handsets will be available to purchase directly from Samsung's web site as well as select retailers starting July 28. The J7 (pictured) is the larger, costlier of the two with a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen and $220 price tag. It also has a 3,300mAh battery, 8-megapixel main camera, and 5-megapixel front camera with flash. The smaller J3 has a 5-inch 720p HD display and a $150 price point. The J3 also has a 2,600mAh battery, 5-megapixel main camera, and 2-megapixel front camera. Both phones support expandable memory cards, support U.S. 3G/4G networks, and run Android 7 Nougat. They have been available from several U.S. carriers (AT&T/Cricket, T-Mobile/MetroPCS) for several months.
Cricket Wireless today annouced new service and handset promotions meant to entice customers to sign up for the prepaid carrier. To start, Cricket is offering new and existing customers two lines of unlimited service for $80 per month. That includes unlimited mobile data, messaging, and voice calls. Cricket caps data speeds at 3 Mbps, and will throttle unlimited customers who exceed 22 GB of data per billing period. In addition to the new service promo, Cricket has a number of deals on smartphones. For example, the Alcatel PulseMix is $80 with a new activation, or just $30 with a port-in. Similarly, the LG x charge is $130 with a new activation or just $100 with a port-in. Other phones with available discounts include the ZTE Sonata 3 and Blade X Max; LG Fortune, Harmony, and Stylo 3; and the Samsung Galaxy Amp 2. Cricket said the promos are available for a limited time.
Cricket Wireless recently added the HTC Desire 555 to its lineup of affordable Android smartphones. The 555 is a variant of the Desire 530. The phone is made from a polycarbonate chassis with a soft-touch finish, and comes with HTC's signature BoomSound audio. The 555 has a 5-inch 720p HD display and it is powered by a quad-core 1.1 GHz processor. According to Cricket, other specs of the Desire 555 include an 8-megapixel main camera with flash and 720p HD video capture, a 5-megapixel front camera, Bluetooth, WiFi, LTE, HD voice, and 16 GB of storage. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat and includes HTC software features, such as BlinkFeed and Themes. The HTC Desire 555 costs $120 when activated on a Cricket Wireless prepaid service plan.
Cricket Wireless recently added the Samsung Halo to its collection of inexpensive smartphones. The Halo harkens back to the design language of older Samsung handsets. It features a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen and it is powered by a 1.6 GHz octa-core processor with 16 GB of storage. The main camera captures 8-megapixel images and full HD video assisted by an LED flash, while the front camera snaps 5-megapixel pictures. Other features include Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, WiFi, and LTE 4G. Cricket said the phone is compatible with most of its data plans and it supports HD Voice. The Samsung Halo runs Android 7 Nougat and costs $180.
Cricket Wireless today said it will carry the Alcatel Pulsemix beginning next month. The Pulsemix is a rebranded version of the Alcatel A5 LED / A50. The Pulsemix is unique because it is compatible with several modular, snap-on accessories called Snapbaks. The most interesting Snapbak features an LED-covered panel that can blink a few dozen LEDs with color. Other modular accessories include a snap-on stereo speaker and a snap-on battery pack. These Snapbak modules are sold separately. The Pulsemix has a quad-core MediaTek processor with 2 GB of RAM, 5.2-inch HD screen, 13-megapixel main camera, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. Other specs include Bluetooth, FM, GPS, and WiFi radios, and a 2,800mAh battery. It runs Android 7. Cricket is selling the Pulsemix for $80, though it will drop the price to $30 for those who port their number to Cricket. The phone reaches Cricket stores on July 21. Alcatel is selling the unlocked Pulsemix / A50 online via Amazon starting July 10.
Alcatel today marked the debut of the Idol 5S, the latest in its flagship series. Like its predecessors, the 5S features an aluminum frame, curved glass front and rear surfaces, powerful stereo speakers, and a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The phone has a 5.2-inch full HD screen and it is powered by the Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. As for photography, the Idol 5S includes a 12-megapixel main camera with two-tone flash, and f/2.0 aperture. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and f/2.0 aperture. Both cameras can shoot full HD video. The stereo speakers are backed by 3.6W amplifiers and the Idol 5S includes dual microphones to help reduce noise when capturing audio. Other features include Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi; USB-C and a 3.5mm headphone jack; and a 2,620mAh battery. LTE support for U.S. carriers is very good, as it includes Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, 66, and 41. Alcatel said the phone will be compatible with AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS at launch, with Sprint and Verizon to follow later this summer through a software update. The Alcatel Idol 5S runs Android 7.1 Nougat and includes the Google Assistant. The device costs $280 when purchased from Alcatel, but can be picked up for $200 through Amazon Prime Exclusives. The Amazon price requires users to view ads on the lock screen. The phone ships July 10.
Cricket Wireless today said it, too, will sell the LG Stylo 3 beginning May 19. A CDMA version is already available from Sprint and Boost, and a slightly higher-end Stylo 3 Plus is available from T-Mobile. The Stylo 3 has a 5.7-inch 720p HD screen, 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel front camera, and fingerprint reader. The phone includes LG's stylus and dedicated pen software. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat. Cricket Wireless has priced the LG Stylo 3 at $170.
Cricket Wireless today made its base $40 plan more attractive thanks to more data. Moving forward the plan includes 4 GB of high-speed data, which is up from 3 GB. Customers who sign up for Auto Pay can get the plan for $35 per month. Customers who already subscribe to the $40 plan will be upgraded to the new data limit automatically at the start of their next billing cycle. Cricket is also offering significant discounts on a number of its phones. For example, the Alcatel Streak, ZTE Sonata 3, Samsung Amp 2, and LG Fortune are all free to those who port in their number. These same devices can be purchases at low prices for those upgrading a line. Other deals include the LG Escape 3 for $20, the Samsung Amp Prime for $30, the LG X Power for $50, the LG Stylo 2 for $80, and the Alcatel Idol 4 for $130. Again, these prices are offered to those porting in a number from a competing carrier.
Cricket Wireless today added the ZTE Blade X Max to its roster of inexpensive Android smartphones, marking the debut of ZTE's Blade line with the prepaid carrier. The Blade X Max has a 6-inch full HD display and it is powered by a 1.4 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 435 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with LED flash, panorama, HDR, time-lapse, and manual controls, and the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with screen-based selfie flash. Other features include a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, 3,400mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0, FM radio with Dolby Audio, USB-C, and support for microSD memory cards. The phone runs Android 7.1 Nougat. The ZTE Blade X Max reaches Cricket Stores May 12 for $150, though ZTE says new activations can score the phone for just $99.
Asus today made the ZenFone 3 Zoom available from its web site for $329. The phone was first announced in January. The device relies on two cameras much like the iPhone 7 Plus to create a zooming effect. Both the standard and 25mm and 59mm lenses have 12-megapixel Sony IMX362 sensors. The main lens has an aperture of f/1.7. Other camera features include portrait mode, OIS, laser focusing, PDAF, RAW support, and a dedicated color sensor for improved white balance. The phone's user-facing camera has a 13-megapixel Sony IMX214 sensor with a 140-degree panorama mode. The 3 Zoom includes a 5,000 mAh battery that can be used to charge other devices via USB-C. Specs include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, 5.5-in full-HD display with Gorilla Glass 5, fingerprint sensor, memory card slot, and 3.5mm audio jack. It ships with Android 6 Marshmallow, but Asus indicated that Android 7 will reach the phone via update soon. The ZenFone 3 Zoom supports GSM/LTE networks, including AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS. The phone is sold unlocked.
Cricket Wireless recently added HD Voice to its service offering. HD Voice, which requires both the caller and receiver to have compatible devices connected to Cricket's LTE network, delivers significantly improved voice clarity. HD Voice reduces background noise and permits people to talk and browse at the same time while on LTE 4G. The list of compatible handsets is rather limited at launch. The four devices that support HD Voice include the Alcatel Idol 4, LG Escape 3, Samsung Galaxy Sol 2, and the ZTE Grand X 4 — all of which need to be updated to most recent software build. The company didn't indicate if or when new phones will gain access to HD Voice. Cricket says HD Voice may not be available when the network is congested. HD Voice is free for Cricket customers to access and use.
Cricket Wireless today added two new Samsung handsets to its list of devices. First, the Galaxy S8 is available for purchase from Cricket stores. Cricket is charging $699.99 for the handset, a $50 savings off list price, when the S8 is activated on a new line. Second, Cricket debuted the Galaxy Amp Prime 2 (pictured), a low-cost Android phone. The Amp Prime 2 features a 5-inch 720p HD screen with a 1.35 GHz quad-core processor and 16 GB of storage. The phone includes 5- and 2-megapixel cameras on the back and front respectively, and a 2,600 mAh battery. Other features include LTE, Bluetooth WiFi, and support for memory cards up to 256 GB. The Samsung Galaxy Amp Prime 2 runs Android 7 Nougat and costs $150.
ZTE today said it appointed Cheng Lixin, the executive behind the company's North American mobile phone business, to run its global mobile phone business. The move comes after ZTE settled with the U.S. government over allegations that it violated international trade sanctions against Iran. ZTE paid a $900 million fine to make the allegations go away. Lixin has led ZTE's mobile efforts in the U.S. since 2010. The company has grown its marketshare in the U.S. during that time thanks to low-cost handsets, which it sells through pre-paid carriers such as Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS. Lixin's predecessor has taken a seat on the company's corporate board. The change is effective immediately. ZTE has not yet named a new executive for the U.S. market.