ZTE launches first smartphone in the U.S. through Cricket

The ZTE Score will be available on Sunday through operator Cricket

Mobile carrier Cricket announced Thursday it will start selling the ZTE Score, the first smartphone from Chinese telecommunications equipment supplier ZTE to launch in the U.S.

The smartphone uses Android 2.3 and comes with a 600 MHz processor. It also features a 3.5-in. touch screen, with a 3.2 megapixel camera and Wi-Fi access.

Cricket, a U.S. mobile operator that offers monthly plans without contracts, said the phone will be available on Sept. 25 in Best Buy locations across the country. The phone is being sold for a suggested retail price of US$130.

ZTE, which also manufactures mobile handsets and tablets, has been looking to increase its presence in the U.S. market, and announced earlier this year it would launch its first smartphone in the country. The company previously launched a lower-end handset called the Salute in a tie-up with Verizon Wireless, the largest mobile operator in the U.S.

In comparison, Cricket is a small operator with 5.7 million customers. ZTE Score comes with the Cricket's Muve Music service, which allows for unlimited music downloads from different major record labels.

ZTE is launching the new phone as the company has seen sales of its handsets increase globally. It is currently the fifth largest mobile phone vendor in the world, placing it right behind Apple, according to research firm IDC. In the second quarter, ZTE's mobile phone shipments increased year-over-year by 36 percent.

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