BestBuy intros ZTE Score, Chorus for Cricket

Cricket Wireless will work in concert with BestBuy to bring two new Muve Music phones to market: the Android-based ZTE Score and the simpler ZTE Chorus.

Samsung Vitality
Josh Miller

Cricket Wireless isn't wasting any more time turning up the volume on its Muve Music service, which adds all-you-can-eat music downloads to its talk, text, and data plan rates.

Almost two weeks after introducing the Samsung Vitality, its first Muve Music smartphone, Cricket is announcing the launch its second Android act, the ZTE Score. But this time Cricket won't be orchestrating the sales; Best Buy will.

In an effort to acquaint a greater audience to the Cricket brand, the prepaid carrier has partnered with national retailer BestBuy to exclusively sell the ZTE Score later this month, as well as a medley of other handsets.

The ZTE Score, which will not be available in Cricket's own stores, is an entry-level Android smartphone that will cost $129.99 at BestBuy. Cricket isn't sharing many more details just yet. BestBuy will also be the first to sell the ZTE Chorus, a $79.99 feature phone. The Samsung Vitality smartphone ($199.99), which is also available in Cricket's retail stores, rounds out BestBuy's three Muve Music offerings.

In addition to the Muve trio, BestBuy will also conduct sales for the simpler Huawei Pillar texting phone ($69.99) and the Samsung Chrono ($39.99), a basic flip phone we first saw for U.S. Cellular.

Cricket's push with BestBuy, starting with a presence in 1,300 stores, is part of a larger thrust to band together with other national retailers like Wal-Mart and Dollar General. The partnerships, combined with an MVNO agreement with Sprint to fill in Cricket's coverage gaps, are meant to drum up support for Cricket's de-facto national network and phones.

As for Muve Music, Cricket isn't shy about singing its own praises. "With the launch of the Vitality phone, we have begun the process of some really solid, Android-based smartphones," said Doug Hutcheson, president and CEO of Cricket's parent Leap Wireless, in a recent phone interview. "The download volume has been outstanding. [Customers] listen to the product over three hours a day."

Although BestBuy will exclusively sell the Muve Music-enabled ZTE Score and Chorus for now, it's a good bet that we'll see them come to Cricket's native network--comprised of 5.7 million customers in 35 states--as an encore.