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China's ZTE wants to reach consumers directly with its Nubia smartphone brand

Michael Kan | Nov. 20, 2013
ZTE on Tuesday released two new handsets carrying its Nubia brand.

But selling phones in the U.S. clashes with the company's strategy of using retail channels, rather than mobile operators to reach consumers. It's an approach that works well in China, where customers often buy phones directly from the Internet or physical store without having to sign up for a cellular plan. But not so much in the U.S., when mobile operators control the market with contract phone plans, Ni said.

"In the North American market, we will continue to give it a try," he said. "But in the short-term our volumes won't be very big." Instead, other markets such as Russia and Southeast Asia show better potential for sales, Ni added.

Still, the Nubia division won't ignore the U.S. market given it's size. Once the brand gains more recognition, the team will consider partnering with U.S. mobile carriers, Ni said. It also sees promise in the country's no-contract phone market, which Ni said is rising from the demand for prepaid plans.

"There will be more and more of these no-contract plans and they could really benefit us," he said.

The Nubia Z5S has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.3 GHz processor, and 2GB of RAM. The screen can display 1080p HD video images, and the phone has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera that can also shoot 4K video at a resolution of 3840 by 2160 pixels. It weighs 126 grams.

In China, the LTE 32GB version of the device will be priced at 3456 yuan (US$564). A 3G version with 16GB in storage will go for 1999 yuan ($326).


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