Huawei unveils flagship Ascend P1 S Android phone, hopes for U.S. distribution

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LAS VEGAS--Huawei took the wraps off its newest flagship smartphone, the Ascend P1 S, at the Consumer Electronics Show here, proclaiming its intentions to take its Ascend brand to the United States as well as the European market.

Huawei's Ascend P1 S

The Ascend P1 S runs on the Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 version of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform and sports a dual-core 1.5 GHz Texas Instruments OMAP processor, but the most striking feature of the device may be its thickness. The Ascend P1 S measures just 6.68mm thick, making it even thinner than Motorola Mobility's (NYSE:MMI) Droid Razr, which measures 7.1 mm. The device also sports a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED 960 x 540 touchscreen with Corning Gorilla Glass, 8-megapixel BSI rear-facing and 1.3-megapixel HD front-facing cameras and has support for UMTS and HSPA+ networks on 850/900/1700/1900 and 2100 MHz bands. The Ascend P1 is essentially the same device, but comes in at 7.69mm thick.

Huawei, which has been trying to make strides in its device business in the U.S. market in the absence of progress for the network infrastructure side of the house, said it is aiming the Ascend P1 S at the high end of the market to show that Huawei can compete with the likes of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung. So far most of Huawei's U.S. handset and smartphone sales have been through flat-rate players Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) and MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS). However, Huawei also scored device deals in the fall with AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) with the Impulse 4G and T-Mobile USA with the T-Mobile SpringBoard tablet and the T-Mobile Sonic 4G Mobile Hotspot.

At a press conference introducing the devices, Richard Yu, the chairman of Huawei Devices, said that the company is currently talking with U.S. carriers about carrying the Ascend P1 S, and that it will hopefully be in the U.S. market by the middle of the year.

Huawei's Richard Yu

Given the spectrum bands its supports, the device could end up on AT&T or T-Mobile. Yu also noted, as Huawei did in the fall, that the company intends to release LTE smartphones this year. Huawei said it expects the Ascend P1 S to launch in Europe by the end of March. Yu said the exact price will be determined by Hauwei's carrier partners, but that it will likely be $400 before carrier subsidies.

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