As popular as smartphones may be, there are still customers who want a phone primarily for making calls and sending out text messages. For Cricket customers who want just that, they could opt for the Cricket TXTM8 3G. It has a slate design similar to the MSGM8, but has relatively advanced features like mobile e-mail, a music player, stereo Bluetooth, and, of course, 3G speeds where available. We do think it's hampered by a less than stellar design, but for just $59.99, it's not a bad deal. The Cricket TXTM8 3G is manufactured by ZTE.
Unlike the original TXTM8, the TXTM8 3G has a candy bar design instead of a square slider. This gives it a slim and simple appeal, with straight lines on both sides and slight curves at the top and bottom. It's clad in silver and black, with hints of copper on the front plate. Measuring 4.5 inches long by 2.36 inches wide by 0.55 inch thick, the TXTM8 3G has a rather cheap feel in the hand, as if it were a children's toy instead of a genuine working phone. At the same time, it's lightweight at 3.58 ounces and won't weigh you down.
On the front of the phone is a 2.2-inch display with 262,000 color support and a QVGA 320x240-pixel resolution. The screen appears bright and colorful, with bold graphics and clear text. You can adjust the menu style, the wallpaper and theme color, the clock format, the graphic for incoming calls, the greeting banner, the backlight time, and the display's brightness.
Along the left side of the home screen is a series of widgets that are part of Cricket's MyHomeScreen display. They can act as shortcuts to certain functions like the browser, or as information pop-ups for items such as breaking news headlines, sports scores, or the weather forecast. You can have up to 10 widgets listed, and you can add more via Cricket's widget catalog. Scrolling through the widgets felt rather sluggish and clunky, though.
The navigation array underneath the display consists of two soft keys, a speakerphone key, a Back key, the Send and End/Power keys, and a round navigation toggle with the confirmation key in the middle. Beneath that is a full QWERTY keyboard, with the number keys highlighted in copper orange. There are dedicated shortcut keys for the calendar, the message inbox, and the music player. The keyboard is quite small when compared with most messaging phones, but the keys are raised sufficiently above the surface that we could still type out messages easily.
On the left spine are the volume rocker and Micro-USB charging port, while the headset jack and camera button are on the right. On the back is the camera lens and external speaker.
The Cricket TXTM8 3G has a 1,000-entry phone book, with room in each entry for five numbers, an e-mail address, a birthday, and a memo. You can organize contacts into caller groups, pair them with a photo for caller ID, and customize contacts with any of six polyphonic ringtones. There's also a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, a calculator, a tip calculator, a schedule, an alarm clock, a world clock, a memo pad, a countdown timer, a stopwatch, and a unit converter. Slightly more advanced features include voice commands, GPS with Cricket Navigator support, stereo Bluetooth, and a wireless Web browser powered by Polaris.