Sprint announces a $100 Android tablet

Sprint is poised to break the $100 price barrier in the world of Android tablets.

The carrier has announced the ZTE Optik, a 7-inch tablet to be priced at $99.99 for those who sign up for a two-year service agreement. Despite its low price, it can still play with the big boys – with Android 3.2 Honeycomb, a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdraggon processor, 1 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of pre-loaded storage, it isn’t skimping on the technical specs.

The next question you may have – what is ZTE? It’s a low-cost wireless manufacturer that has primarily dealt in Chine and the surrounding region but is looking to make its break in the US much in the same vein as HTC and Huawei, both of which are finding riches in the US thanks to Android.

The Optik will be a breakthrough device for ZTE as it goes after the tablet-hungry but budget-conscious consumers in the US. And although Sprint remains an attractive carrier for those customers because of its unlimited data plans, there will not be an unlimited option for the Optik. Users will sign up for a monthly package of between 1 GB to 12 GB, ranging in price from $20 to $80.

ZTE’s offering will hardly be the first sub-$100 tablet to enter the market, but it is perhaps one of the most high-profile and a rare one that has carrier support. The unsubsidized price is $350 so it isn’t a “cheap” device by any measure.

The device will go on sale in Sprint Store locations and on Sprint.com beginning Sunday, February 5.