ZTE in UK smartphone boost


Chinese handset manufacturer ZTE said its low cost Windows Mobile smartphones, launched in Portugal this month, would be available in the UK next year.

The manufacturer is currently seeking UK network partners for the devices, which have been customised for Portuguese network partner TMN.

ZTE said its Bluebelt smartphone had been sold in Portugal by TMN since May and had since captured 30 per cent of the Portuguese smartphone market. It said it could also bring such devices to a wider UK audience.

In the UK, ZTE has partnered with all the networks in some form, either in low cost handsets or mobile broadband dongles. It manufactured T-Mobile’s Vairy (pictured) and Orange’s Vegas prepay touchscreen handsets on an ODM basis and is one of two major players in the dongle market, against rival Huawei.

It has recently struck a prepay handset supply deal with 3, with ZTE branding remaining on the packaging.

ZTE UK head of terminal operation Wu Sa told Mobile News:  “3 has been ZTE’s customer since 2005 so for us this is a natural continuation of the business. Over the past two years our business has been predominantly based on mobile broadband which is still the case this year and certainly the majority of our business with 3 comes from supplying mobile broadband dongles.

“Our relationship is based on the requirements and needs of Hutchison, and we have jointly developed a value proposition to target entry level third generation mobile users highlighting social networking on a device. This is how we see our business growing.”

Sa said that volumes of both handset and mobile broadband dongles shipped into the UK were up five times on last year, to 1.5 million devices. Last year, handsets made up only 10 per cent of the company’s shipments into the UK, while this year the company expected handsets to make up around 45 per cent by the end of Q4.

“Growth is coming from both strengthening network relationships and creating new ones. Our main strategy is to support the ODM strategy of the carrier. We will be releasing another handset on 3 and there will be some more encouraging stories coming from Orange and T-Mobile, who currently stock our Vegas and Vairy handsets,” said Sa.

“We have good reason to believe that with the benefit we are bringing to the carrier and the consumer in the UK market that we will see a lot more growth in our handset business next year. By next year you will start to see a lot more handsets through ZTE in the UK market through more tier one carriers.”