The Chinese at ZTE, like their conationals at Huawei, have a lot to prove this year at MWC. Both Chinese manufacturing giants have huge global businesses (ZTE is number four cell phone maker in the world), but little influence in the immensely lucrative Western smartphone markets. However, that may change in the close future, and Samsung and HTC should really be worried.
ZTE previously announced the beautiful Mimosa X, a dual-core Android 4.0 device with a lightweight profile and an equally light footprint on your budget. With all its qualities, the ZTE Mimosa X isn’t the kind of phone that would dazzle the hardened audience that attends Mobile World Congress. ZTE needed something bigger and flashier, something more quad-corey (yep, we made that word up, right now). And that bigger, flashier smartphone is the just announced ZTE Era.
Today at MWC, ZTE revealed a host of devices, but the star of the show is clearly the ZTE Era. The 4.3-inch device from ZTE runs on Nvidia’s Tegra 3 4+1 cores platform (as most of the other quad-cores models presented so far do) running at 1.3 GHz. That’s respectable, but a notch below the HTC One X’ or Optimus 4X HD’s 1.5GHz clock speed. Just like the Mimosa X, the Era incorporates the new Icera radio chips, which Nvidia claims offer better battery consumption.
The ZTE Era’s screen is one of the weak points of the new device. While other quad-phones please our eyes with HD resolution, the Era only has qHD – 960 x 540. Not actually a showstopper, but something that may put away some potential buyers (especially pathological nitpickers like us). Of course, the new Era will run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (here that Sony?). Other notable specs include 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, and an 8MP camera with autofocus that shoots at 1080p. Did we mention that everything is packed into a sleek, 7.8mm thin case?
If you’re expecting dazzling performance from the ZTE Era, you may be a little disappointed by this lower-speced quad-core. But again, the lower specs should, in theory, translate into a smaller price. It’s a compromise that, we’re sure, many would love to make.
The ZTE Era will start selling in Europe and China in the second half of the year. No pricing information yet, and also, no news about its availability in the rest of the world.
The Era was the highlight of ZTE’s event, but the Chinese mammoth presented a few other interesting Android devices.
The big boys in ZTE’s new lineup are the seductively-named PF100 and T98 tablets, both quad-core, both running Android 4.0. The PF100 is a ten-incher with WXGA resolution, while the T98 comes in the 7-inch variety. ZTE went crazy and announced two other 10.1-inch tablets, the V96 and the V9S, both powered by dual-core Qualcomm chips. Note that the V9S comes with Android 3.2 Honeycomb, which is somewhat disappointing.
Expected to hit the stores in Q2, ZTE’s new tablets should be budget-friendly. If that’s the case, we expect at least a moderate level of success. Although no hard information is available, some of ZTE’s slates will definitely be available in the United States.
Accompanying the tablets, we caught glimpse of a few other Android smartphones that are less impressive than the Era, but still run Android 4.0 and pack a serious punch – the ZTE Mimosa X (disclosed last week), the ZTE Blade II, the N91, and the Skate Aqua. More details in the press release.
Let us know what you think. What you be willing to buy a ZTE?
Four ultra device styles – Ultra HD, Ultra Fashion, Ultra Wide Screen and Ultra Power;
and ‘four’ technologies – 4G, Android 4.0 and quad core;
usher in a new era for ZTE branded handsets and tablets
27 February 2012, Shenzhen – ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ), a leading global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, has laid out its challenge to the global leaders in the mobile handset market with the announcement of a wide range of new high-specification handsets and tablets. The new devices will target, in particular, users in the high volume/high value markets of Europe, Japan, the USA and China.
Leading the ZTE charge – announced at the Mobile World Congress 2012 telecoms industry event in Barcelona – is one of the thinnest quad-core smart phones on the market today, the ZTE Era, which will be launched in Europe and China in the second half of 2012.
The ZTE Era handset packs high definition multimedia capabilities into a package that is just 7.8mm thick. Based on the NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 quad-core mobile processor and equipped with a NVIDIA Icera 450 HSPA+ modem, with a 4.3 inch QHD (960 x 540 pixels), 8GB of expandable memory, HD voice and Dolby sound, and running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), the ZTE Era provides powerful new ways of communicating and sharing, with easy multitasking, rich notifications and deep interactivity. The ZTE Era delivers a great combination of amazing battery life and outstanding performance with Tegra 3’s unique 4-PLUS-1™ quad-core architecture with a fifth battery saver core.
“Last year, ZTE terminal shipments grew by 50 percent, exceeding our objectives, and we achieved a 400 percent increase in smartphone shipments,” said ZTE EVP and Head of the Terminals Division, Mr He Shiyou. “This growth has been worldwide – ZTE smart terminal shipments in Europe increased by over 300 percent last year, and terminal shipments in the US by 100 percent. Revenue from international business is now over 60 percent of ZTE’s terminal revenues.”
“Our long-term goal for the Terminals Division is to achieve a compound growth rate of above 40 percent per year for five consecutive years from 2010, and to become one of the top three vendors in the global handset market by 2015. This extensive new range of handsets, tablets, datacards and user features we are announcing here at Mobile World Congress 2012 will help us drive this momentum through 2012 and beyond. This is a new era for ZTE branded devices,” continued Mr. He Shiyou.
ZTE also announced a suite of new handsets including the ZTE PF112 with a 4.5-inch high density (HD) screen providing high quality 1028 x 720 pixels viewing and high specification audio and video capabilities; and 7-inch and 10.1-inch quad-core tablets for the European market.
Further announcements included the first appearance of the ZTE MiFavor UI smartphone user interface which simplifies and improves the Android user experience; the ZTE Touch and Share near field communications application which enables users to exchange data or make payment by simply touching their device to another; and additional models in existing handset ranges. These include the Kis and Acqua models with 3.5-inch and 4.0-inch screens respectively, providing additional price-points for this excellent value Android 2.3 range; and the ZTE Blade II with an upgraded 1.0GHz processor.
ZTE also announced its second Windows Phone smartphone, the ZTE Orbit which runs the latest version of Windows Phone, and comes with 4GB of memory, HD Voice, and a 5Mpx autofocus camera with LED flash. The ZTE Orbit follows the ZTE Tania running Windows Phone, which launched in the UK in January and is shipping in the next few weeks. The ZTE Orbit will be available sometime in the second quarter of this year.
According to industry analyst Gartner, ZTE was ranked the world’s No.4 in terms of handset shipments in Q4 2011 and ZTE smartphone sales are growing faster than any other vendor except Apple.
“In 2012, ZTE products will be building up from the low-middle end of the market into the middle-high end, with the ZTE Era being the best example of that development,” Mr He Shiyou said. “We will continue our long-standing cooperation with operators around the world, but we will also continue to build our distributor channels (both ODM and OEM), and we will be focusing our marketing in particular on the high-end markets of Europe, America and Japan.”
The ZTE Era, together with the comprehensive portfolio of ZTE terminals, is on display at MWC 2012 in Barcelona on the ZTE booth in Hall 8, stand B145.