updated 12:35 pm EST, Thu December 8, 2011
ZTE promises flagship LTE handset in 2012
Chinese phone and telecom equipment maker ZTE will launch its first high-end smartphone to compete with the likes of Apple, Samsung, HTC and Nokia by the middle of next year, North American region president Lixin Cheng said in an interview Thursday. The company now considers the country important enough to make it the largest ZTE phone market by 2015, he explained to the Wall Street Journal. Globally, ZTE has a five percent cellphone share, making it larger than Apple.
ZTE lacks a high-end phone so far, however, and when the flagship model comes, it should use LTE. The handset will use either Android or Windows Phone 7, and ZTE is in talks with the top four US carriers on selling it, Cheng said. He claimed the smartphone would offer a similar feature set as the iPhone, but would be more affordable.
ZTE is also thinking about building a manufacturing facility in the US. Thus far, it employs 400 in North America in 10 offices and three research locations.
The company's success has mostly come from China, where its budget smartphones like the Skate have undercut either higher-priced devices from Apple or Nokia's aging Symbian smartphones. ZTE's absence in the high-end has hurt its reputation in North America, though, where it's often relegated to smaller carriers and basic devices below what it can actually deliver.