Cricket Wireless Unveils $199 ZTE Grand X Max+ Phablet

ZTE's new Grand Max+ Android smartphone includes a 6-inch display, a 3,200mAh battery and 2GB of memory.

Cricket Wireless customers will be able to buy a new ZTE Grand X Max+ phablet for $199 starting Jan. 9, adding the large-screen smartphone to Cricket's product offerings for its no-contract users.

The ZTE Grand X Max+, which features a 6-inch HD display, a quad-core processor, 2GB of memory, a 3,200mAh battery and 16GB of internal storage (expandable to 32GB via micro SD card), was unveiled Jan. 5 at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The smartphone runs on the Android operating system and also includes Dolby audio, a 13MP rear-facing camera with 4x zoom and LED flash and a 5MP wide-angle front-facing camera that can be used for video chats, selfies, Google Hangouts sessions and HD video.

The phablet will be sold exclusively by Cricket Wireless in its stores and on its Website starting Jan. 9.

"We're starting off the year with a massive 6-inch HD smartphone that delivers value without compromise to our customers," Jennifer Van Buskirk, the president of Cricket Wireless, said in a statement. "In addition to no-annual contract plans starting at $35 per month after $5 credit for using Auto Pay including taxes and fees, Cricket Wireless will continue to roll out a growing number of 4G LTE smartphones in 2015 because we know that's what our customers want."

The ZTE Grand X Max+ is the third 4G LTE device being offered by Cricket.

"The ZTE Grand X Max+ is the latest example of how we listen to our consumers and apply our expertise to bring them premium experiences at affordable prices," Lixin Cheng, the chairman and CEO of ZTE USA, said in a statement. "This device is a great start to 2015 for both ZTE and Cricket, two of the leading brands in prepaid."

A recent consumer survey sponsored by ZTE found that 83 percent of respondents said they are interested in having a bigger phone, while only 22 percent said they were willing to pay a higher price to get such a device, according to the companies.

Cricket mobile plans start with a $40 per month Basic plan that includes 1GB of data use, a $50 Smart plan that includes 3GB and a $60 Pro plan that includes 10GB of data. There is a $5 discount for each of those plans for users who select automatic payment. Cricket also is offering a $100 bill credit through Jan. 29 to new customers who switch their service from T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile or Cincinnati Bell, according to the company.

In September 2014, Cricket boosted the data allocations for its no-contract plans to keep pace with similar offers from competitors in the mobile carrier marketplace. Basic Plan users got 1GB of data, up from 500MB, while monthly $60 Pro Plan users received 10GB of data, up from 5GB, according to the company. Monthly $50 Smart Plan customers received 3GB of data, up from 2.5GB of data.

Cricket is a subsidiary of AT&T, which completed its $1.2 billion acquisition of Leap Wireless, which operates Cricket, in March 2014, according to an earlier eWEEK report.