The big news in the wireless business this week has been AT&T's upcoming purchase of Leap Wireless, which the FCC approved yesterday. The deal has been in the works since July of last year. That leaves AT&T in an interesting spot, since it now owns the CDMA-based Cricket Wireless, which directly competes with the budget-focused Aio sub-brand. Apparently AT&T prefers the more established brand, because the company said it will combine the assets of both under the "Cricket" name.
If you're in the market for a Cricket Wireless phone, the carrier is offering some downright fantastic deals at the moment. They're offering massive mail-in rebates of $200 off the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S III, and HTC One SV (in addition to their regular web discounts), delivered in the form of a Visa prepaid card. Thanks to a surprisingly low starting price, Samsung's Galaxy S4 is just $329.99 with the rebate - and that's not a contract price.
Cricket Wireless wants you to know that they'll have the Samsung Galaxy S4, just like the big boys. They just don't have it yet. In a press release issued today, Cricket revealed its own special version of the Galaxy S4 (which is exactly like all the other LTE Galaxy S4 models), and it will be available to customers in-store, online, and at authorized resellers on June 7th. The cost for Cricket's unsubsidized phone is a wallet-searing $599.99, but those who are short on green can put $54.99 down and pay it off over a couple of years.
Last night, Cricket quietly added the Engage LT to its website for $179.99. Amusingly, with the current set of sales, it's the same price as its older and better brother, the ZTE Engage (no LT in the name). David posted about the ZTE Engage shortly before it released late last year. Neither phone is particularly interesting and both have lower-end specs with mid-range pricing.
Here are the relevant specs:
- Android 4.0
- 4" TFT WVGA (800 x 480) capacitive display (233 PPI)
- 1 GHz Snapdragon processor (model is currently unknown)
- 3.2 MP rear camera w/LED flash, VGA front camera
- 1 GB RAM
- 1900 mAh Lithium Ion battery
What makes the original Engage better than the Cricket-branded newcomer?
Hey Cricket customers! Want a new phone that may or may not be better than the one you already have? You can get the new HTC Desire C, a dinky little 3.5" thing inspired by the One series.
The Desire C features some of the things you'd expect from its higher end counterparts, like 25GB of Dropbox space, Beats Audio, and Sense 4, to go along with its 3.5" touchscreen and Android 4.0.
Do you like the idea of a low-end prepaid phone that's probably marginally overpriced for what it is? Does Cricket Wireless intrigue you? Then have I got the news of the century for you. Meet the ZTE Engage. It's not particularly exciting. It's not particularly cheap. But it's... a phone. And it runs Android 4.0. So there's that.
The ZTE Engage does other things, too. Like music. And apps.
Thanks to the high cost of traditional cellular service, contract-free wireless service is becoming more and more appealing to many customers. Two fairly big names in both cellphone sales and pay-as-you-go wireless service - RadioShack and Cricket Wireless - have now teamed up to offer RadioShack No-Contract Wireless service. I kind of wish they would've come up with a catchier name. ShackMobile. ShackWireless. ShackPack. Boom Shack-a-lacka Mobile. But I digress.
The service will start off with but two phones - one smartphone and one feature phone - both manufactured by Huawei.
The junior member of HTC's One family has yet to see great adoption in the United States, with US Cellular and Virgin being the only carriers of note to offer the HTC One V. Fellow budget carrier Cricket Wireless is finally getting their own version of the Android handset, and will be releasing it to its contract-free customers on Sunday, September 2nd. Cricket has yet to announce a price for the phone, but given its competitors' prices, I'd guess that somewhere between $100 and $200 is likely.
Normally, when we think about prepaid carriers, one thought comes to mind: low-end devices. Most manufacturers reserve their higher-end handsets for the Big Four, so those who don't want to empty their wallet each month on a wireless plan end up with very little to choose from when it comes to decent phones. However, that is all about to change with Huawei's upcoming Glory phone, which is set to land on Cricket Wireless this November.