If you didn't get enough mobile news during the week, not to worry, because we've opened the firehose for the truly hardcore. This week brought a new smartphone to Cricket, insights from Verizon about its forthcoming AWS deployment and even a rugged accessory from Nokia. These stories and more await after the break. So buy the ticket and take the ride as we explore all that's happening in the mobile world for this week of March 11th, 2013.
Cricket introduces Engage LT for $200
New to Cricket's lineup is the Engage LT, which is manufactured by ZTE and positioned as a lower-priced counterpart to the Engage. The smartphone contains a 4-inch WVGA display, a 1GHz Snapdragon CPU, Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and a 3.2-megapixel camera. Other specs include a front-facing VGA camera, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of expandable storage and a 1,900mAh battery. Curiously, after discounts, the Engage and Engage LT can both be purchased for $180. Given that the Engage sports an 1.4GHz CPU and an 8-megapixel camera, it's currently positioned as the better buy of the two. [Android Police]
Verizon Wireless gears up for AWS deployment
This week, Verizon Wireless CTO, Nicola Palmer, revealed that the carrier's deployment of LTE service over the 700MHz band will be substantially complete by mid-year. Rather than resting on its laurels, however, the company will then refocus its efforts to deploy AWS service at its existing tower sites. According to Palmer, Verizon's AWS licenses cover nearly the entire nation, and for that reason, the recently acquired spectrum is key to the carrier's growth strategy. If you'll recall, we saw Verizon's first AWS-ready device, the Galaxy Note 10.1, clear the FCC in January, and we're told to expect many other devices that support AWS to hit the market during the first half of this year. [FierceWireless]
Nokia introduces IP54-certified shell for Lumia 620
You probably know that we're in love with the entry-level Lumia 620, and that we're equally enamored with its well-designed back casing, which integrates a headphone port for easy replacement in case of damage. Now, Nokia is taking the Lumia 620's rear cover to a new level: IP54 certification. By replacing the rear cover of the current Lumia 620 with this new one, users will be able to protect their smartphone from damage due to dust and liquid splashes. According to Nokia, the new shell is flexible and has a rubber-like feel, and it'll go up for sale at the end of the month for €25 ($33). [Nokia Conversations]
T-Mobile LTE shows signs of life in NYC
See that purple patch on your screen? Don't bother trying to clean your monitor: that smudge is LTE service from T-Mobile. Signal from the carrier first popped up in Queens, New York earlier this week, which exists within a 5 x 3 block area of the Astoria neighborhood. At this early phase, the network isn't quite usable -- it's said to kick users off after not too long -- but even at this stage, one lucky soul was able to pull in 15.5Mbps down and upload at 9.15Mbps. Here's to what's to come, right? [GigaOM]
FreedomPop debut's data rollover add-on service
FreedomPop borrowed a page from AT&T's playbook this week with the announcement of an optional rollover plan. Unlike voice minutes, however, FreedomPop customers will be able to rollover their unused data (up to 500MB/mo) for a $3.50 monthly fee. According to a company representative, 30 percent of FreedomPop subscribers have already signed up for the add-on service, which allows users to accumulate up to 20GB of data usage in the rainy day fund. [FierceWireless]
Other random tidbits
- Verizon Wireless has expanded its LTE network to include North Hero, Hardwick and Mad River Glen, Vt., Holliston, Mass., and to new areas of both Arizona and New Mexico. [Verizon Wireless 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
- AT&T extended its LTE network to Augusta, Ga., and Cleveland, Ohio. [AT&T 1, 2]
- PC Magazine has published a compilation of 49 cities that are known to receive 1900MHz HSPA+ service from T-Mobile. Unofficially, we can add Portland, Ore. to that list. [PC Magazine]
- BlackBerry Messenger was updated to bring voice support to users of BlackBerry 5 OS. [BlackBerry]
- An unreleased app known as Nokia Locate3D was briefly available for download (and then subsequently pulled) from App Highlights. [WP Central]
Must-read mobile stories
- Samsung Galaxy S 4 preview: a flagship with some familiar roots
- HTC One review (2013)
- HTC One headed to Verizon after all, says AllThingsD
- Andy Rubin no longer leading Android, replaced by Chrome exec Sundar Pichai
- FCC approves T-Mobile - MetroPCS deal, deems the merger will 'serve the public interest'
- This is the Modem World: Why are we still texting?
- Verizon BlackBerry Z10 launching March 28th, pre-orders begin March 14th
- BlackBerry Z10 coming to AT&T March 22nd for $199.99, pre-orders open tomorrow
*Verizon is currently in the process of acquiring AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.