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AT&T punches up GoPhone plan with international feature, adds HTC Desire 626

Customers on the $60 GoPhone plan will receive unlimited calling and messaging to Canada and Mexico. AT&T's prepaid brand Cricket Wireless also adds a pair of smartphones.

The HTC Desire 626s is a plastic-clad entry-level Android smartphone. Ariel Nunez/CNET

AT&T's GoPhone prepaid rate plans get a little more interesting on Monday, as the carrier announces new international calling and messaging options. Beginning August 21, customers on the $60 GoPhone plan will be able to call and message both Mexico and Canada.

The move comes at a time when other post-paid and prepaid carriers -- like Sprint and Cricket -- announce their own respective international plans.

Increasingly, carriers seem to be realizing that globalized customers expect to expand the definition of "talk and text" to other countries on the North American continent. Last week saw AT&T adding a similar feature to select Mobile Share Value plans as well.

The $60 plan will continue to include unlimited calling, messaging, and 4GB of high speed data. The $45 option, for its part, remains unchanged and will not pick up the expanded coverage. Customers who sign up for AT&T's Auto-Refill service can save $5 per month by signing up for automatic bill pay.

AT&T and Cricket's new Desire

This coming weekend also finds AT&T launching its latest starter smartphone, the HTC Desire 626 . Powered by Android 5.1 Lollipop, the handset is designed to attract first-time smartphone buyers or those who don't need the latest and greatest hardware.

Key specifications include a 5-inch HD (1,280x720 pixels) display, an 8-megapixel rear camera, and a 5-megapixel front-facing sensor. The 1.1GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor is bolstered by 1.5GB RAM; internal storage is listed at 16GB with external storage (up to 200GB) coming by way of microSD cards.

AT&T will sell the HTC Desire 626 for $1 with a two-year service agreement. Additionally, customers can opt to spread equipment costs out over a variety of AT&T Next plans. The Next 12 with Down Payment, for instance, requires a $56 down payment and 28 payments of $4.61 each. The full retail cost shakes out to $185.

AT&T's prepaid brand Cricket Wireless is also getting in on the action, calling up two new smartphones as well. The aforementioned HTC Desire 626 will be offered as the Desire 626s, however the specs remain the same. You can buy it for $150 all-in right away.

Moving up the ladder a rung, Cricket also adds the LG G Stylo , a 5.7-inch smartphone with a stylus and a 3000mAh battery, as well as an 8-megapixel rear and 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

LG has pre-loaded the G Stylo with a handful of apps which take advantage of the spacious display. Quick Memo+ allows for notes and comments atop photos, documents and more while Dual Window lets users split the screen in half running two apps at once. The LG G Stylo sells on Cricket with a $200 no-contract price tag.