Dish's Boost Mobile debuts its first proprietary 5G phone for under $300

The Celero5G will be available later this fall, giving Boost Mobile customers using older phones time to upgrade before 3G networks go dark.

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Dish Networks

Boost Mobile on Thursday unveiled the Celero5G, a new 5G smartphone launching exclusively to Boost customers later this fall. At just $279, it's designed to be relatively affordable compared to other mid-tier Android devices. 

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"Subscribers have told us loud and clear: they want speed, cool features, and a fair price," Boost Mobile CEO  Stephen Stokols said in a statement. "The Celero5G is built to make 5G affordable." 

The Celero5G boasts a 6.52-inch screen, a hard glass back, four cameras, 36 hours of battery life, and 4GB RAM/ 64GB ROM memory that's customizable with an SD card up to 2TB.

The device launch gives Boost Mobile customers using older phones time to upgrade before 3G networks go dark -- a cause for concern for Boost Mobile's parent company, Dish Networks. 

Dish jumped into wireless retail in 2019. Dish acquired Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint's prepaid business for approximately $1.4 billion as part of the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. 

The company has yet to roll out its own 5G network. However, as part of the merger, Dish was granted the ability to use T-Mobile's network for seven years while it built out its own. As ZDNet's sister site CNET noted last month, Dish is not happy about T-Mobile's plans to shut down Sprint's ageing 3G CDMA network on Jan. 1, 2022. 

During Dish's Q2 conference call in August, Dish co-founder and chairman Charlie Ergen said that "a material amount of customers on January 1 will still have CDMA phones and will lose their service. And again, this is the most economically challenged group in America; Boost is not -- these aren't the customers that have bank accounts and high paying jobs. These are people that are challenged and so economically challenged. So I think it's even more important that these people don't lose their service."

Boost is appealing to both existing and potential new users with the Celero5G. After paying $279 for the device, new and existing customers will get 12 full months of free unlimited talk, text and data, plus a free, specially-designed phone case.