ZTE announces new lease-to-own program for mobile devices

ZTE Axon Elite

ZTE became the second device maker to offer a direct-to-consumer smartphone lease program Wednesday, with the unveiling of a payment option in collaboration with SmartPay Leasing Inc. ZTE's lease-to-own option puts devices like the Axon Pro within the reach of more people, though it sounds like the program could end up being a bit pricier than buying a device outright.

With SmartPay, ZTE said customers can get an immediate approval to lease ZTE devices, from high-end smartphones to entry-level devices and smart projectors. The leases will vary between 6 to 24 months with the first payment being made at the time of purchase when you checkout from their online shop. Residents of those states will be able to lease devices from ZTE and SmartPay, but won't be able to pay them off and claim ownership - they'll only be able to lease and trade in to upgrade. You can also pay off the lease early without penalty.

If you're up-to-date on your monthly payments you can cancel your lease at any time and upgrade your device by simply returning your current device in good working order to SmartPay. The program applies to unlocked devices.

"We are introducing leasing options because we believe advanced mobile technology should be available to everyone". Because they are running a strictly lease-to-own program, these plans won't be available to residents of New Jersey, Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Wyoming. If under a contract, you can cancel or pay the remaining balance. "We also want the experience of purchasing and using a ZTE device to be easy for any consumer", said Lixin Cheng, CEO and chairman of ZTE USA.

ZTE accomplished a better integration of functionality and design with its latest Axon phone, but the price tag clearly reflects those efforts. The report, citing an unnamed industry executive with knowledge of Samsung's plans, said that Samsung could launch its leasing program in the next several months although it could happen sooner. You can check out the press release on the program here. An early termination fee may be applied.