updated 10:15 am EDT, Thu September 22, 2011
Cricket adds ZTE Score and hits big retailers
Cricket made a big push to get prominence as a US cell carrier Thursday by unveiling a new Android smartphone as part of a larger push. The ZTE Score fits in the current entry level with a 3.5-inch, 320x480 capacitive touchscreen, a 600MHz processor, and a 3.2-megapixel camera. It carries a partly customized Android 2.3 but claims Cricket's Muve Music as its real advantage, with unlimited song and ringtone downloads when using the $55 combined data, text, and voice smartphone plan.
The phone will cost $130 contract-free and will be the first to kick off an expansion to other stores. Both the Score as well as other Cricket phones like the Samsung Vitality will reach Best Buy for the first time on September 25. More chains would come over the next two months, including some Walmart stores, Dollar General, and on TV through HSN.
A new basic feature phone, the ZTE Chorus, is due to ship with Muve Music support before the end of the year for $100, but also with the option of a cheaper $45 per month plan.
Cricket is taking advantage of a new, blanket roaming deal with Sprint to cover a much larger footprint than it has in the past. The shops would help fill out both the existing 35 states where Cricket has coverage as well as new states. Its push should help close the gap with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon, all of whom have had the advantages of both more coverage and much more presence in shops.