How’d you like a smartphone for under $30 and a no-contract wireless plan for 30 bucks as well? Then the Cricket Wireless Alcatel Pulsemix may be for you.
Cricket Wireless is the prepaid service owned since 2014 by AT&T, which means it uses the same cell network as its parent company, although there are different service plans, which we’ll get to shortly.
Cricket will sell you many phones, from “free” (under certain conditions) all the way up to an iPhone 8 Plus for $950. Or you can bring your own unlocked GSM/LTE phone and use it with a Cricket wireless plan.
One of the latest Cricket offerings is the Alcatel Pulsemix, which is a rebranded Alcatel A5. It is not a high-end phone, by any means, but if you’re just looking for the basics in an Android smartphone, all of the regular features are here. The Pulsemix comes as Android Nougat (7.0) with a 5.2-inch display, 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of built-in memory. You can add a microSD card for up to 128 GB more storage. The usual mix of Google phone apps are of course included, and there are a bunch of Cricket apps & games as well.
The Alcatel Pulsemix will run on a 4G LTE network, has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, an 8-megapixel rear camera with HD video and a “selfie” camera of 2 MP. If you like a phone in basic black, you’re in luck, as that’s your only choice of color.
But this particular phone does have a little something extra if you’re willing to pay for it: SNAPBak covers. You remove the Pulsemix’s entire back cover and snap in one of three specialty covers, Sound, Power or LightUp. SNAPBak Sound adds two 2.5 watt speakers and allows the phone to be propped up with a kickstand. SNAPBak Power is said to double the phone’s battery life. And SNAPBak LightUp is full of LEDs that “light up” to create a lightshow for music or videos, but can also be used to visually notify you of messages, emails, notifications and phone calls. Each of these backs is about $50.
Fair warning, these are not add-on backs that attach and detach easily, like the magnetic “Mods” on the more expensive Lenovo Moto Z series, which we’ve reviewed previously. These backs truly do snap into place, and removing them takes a strong fingernail to put in a notch and try to pop the back loose. I had to (gently) use a little screwdriver blade to remove one.
Cricket Wireless will sell you the Alcatel PulseMix for as low as $29.99 if you’re transferring a number, or $79.99 if you are getting a new number or upgrading a Cricket phone.
As for the wireless plans, as I said they start at just $30 a month which includes unlimited talk & text and 2 GB of high-speed data. If you don’t stream a lot of videos or music, that’s plenty for email and modest web surfing. A new 5 GB plan is $40 and there are new “unlimited” plans starting at $50 with discounts for multiple lines, but Cricket will throttle data speed after 22 GB of usage – something not uncommon among wireless carriers for “unlimited” data.