Straight Talk website today for $99.99 with free shipping. The Merit is the first Straight Talk's branded Android phone to run on the AT&T network. It's the same basic phone as the AT&T Avail which has been available as a GoPhone for a couple of months. AT&T charges $129.99 for the Avail, $30 more than Straight Talk's price. Update 20-May-2012: Straight Talk has raised the price to $129.99.
The Merit has relatively good specs for an entry level Android phone. The 5 MP auto-focus camera and 3.5 inch HVGA (320 x 480) screen are both a cut above the typical $100 Android phone. The phone runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, which the latest Android OS to ship on any entry level phone. The newest Android OS, 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is currently only available on phones selling for 400.00 or more, unsubsidized.
There are quite a few user reviews of AT&T's version of the Merit on Walmart, Mobiledia, CNET and Amazon, with most of them favorable. There's also a 13 minute video review on PhoneArena. Users generally give the Avail high marks for the camera, screen and general performance. The biggest gripe Avail users seem to have is with battery life. But when it comes to specifics about the battery the main complaint is that you have to charge it every day and if you talk or surf the web continuously for five hours the battery is dead, both of which are true of almost any Android phone.
Up to now, in order to use Straight Talk's $45/month unlimited plan with an Android phone on the AT&T network, you had to buy an AT&T phone and a Straight Talk AT&T SIM and configure the phone's data and MMS settings manually Which could be a hassle as AT&T likes to lock those settings down. The Merit comes preconfigured for Straight Talk so it should work right out of box, which is a huge advantage for most people.
Here are the Merit's specifications:
Dimensions: (H × W × D) 4.57" (H) x 2.46" (W) x 0.5" (D)
Weight: 4.48 oz. (with battery)
Display: 3.5" 320 x 480 (HVGA)
Camera: 5 megapixel camera with auto focus
Memory ROM: 512MB, RAM: 512MB, Internal storage available to user: 130 MB
Removable memory card support: micro SD card, max. capacity 32GB
Battery: 1,500 mAh
Continuous idle time: Up to 9 days and 9 hours
Continuous talk time: About 5 hours
OS: Android 2.3 Gingerbread
Sensors: Gravity, tilt and shake
Google Android apps (YouTube, Google Maps with navigation and voice guidance, Google Talk, Google Play Store, Android Music Player, etc.)
Processor: 600 Mhz
Straight Talk has an interactive tutorial for the Merit online. The User manual is also available (download PDF, view online). To purchase the ZTE Merit visit www.shopstraightalk,com.