While the ascendant Yahoo of the 1990s now only lives in our memories, its name and branding continue to shamble on zombie-like to its owner Verizon’s other products — this time, the ZTE Blade A3Y, an exclusive phone for Yahoo Mobile bearing its namesake company’s familiar shade of purple.
Besides its burst of color, ZTE’s 5.4-inch 720p phone mostly flashes its Yahoo heritage on your homescreen, with a crowded collection of bloatware helpful pre-installed Yahoo apps like the ad-free Yahoo Mail Pro (yes, Yahoo Mail normally features ads), Yahoo Weather and Yahoo News. The purple back of the phone features a fingerprint sensor for unlocking the device, an 8MP camera, and a removable back plate for accessing the phone’s battery. For charging that battery, there’s a USB-C port at the bottom of the phone.
The Blade ships with Android 10, powered by a lower-end MediaTek quad-core 2.0GHz processor and 2GB of RAM. The phone won’t be surprising anyone with speed, and storage is also minimal, starting at 32GB and expandable up to 2TB with a microSD card. With those lower cost, less exciting parts, the Blade hits a budget friendly price of $49.99.
Yahoo Mobile joined Visible as Verizon’s other MVNO in March and features the same $40 per month unlimited (in name) plan. This is the carrier’s first exclusive phone since its launch early this year, and in its own way, it perfectly captures the diminished state of Yahoo in 2020.
A branded budget phone is just the most recent entry in Yahoo’s long journey from web services titan to name Verizon slaps on things. The telecom giant purchased the branding, email service and ad technology of the company in 2016, prompting the remaining search engine, forums and blog parts of the business to attempt to rebrand as Altaba. Verizon would later combine Yahoo with AOL to create Oath, which after several data breaches and privacy issues led to a writedown of the carrier’s purchase of the two companies and a further rebrand to Verizon Media.
All these moves pale in comparison to what Yahoo was: one of the first places many people visited on the web and a dominant search engine in a time before Google. ZTE’s Blade A3Y isn’t the old Yahoo, and really only features its color, but it’s fun to remember what was. The phone is available today for the introductory price of $49 at Yahoo Mobile.