ZTE promises LTE and high-end U.S. smartphones in 2012

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Chinese vendor ZTE intends to make a big splash in the U.S. market next year with the release of LTE and high-end smartphones, according to a senior executive.

ZTE plans to unveil a high-end U.S. smartphone in the middle of next year, according to Lixin Cheng, president of the ZTE's North American region. "By 2015, we expect the U.S. to be the largest market for handsets for ZTE," he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Cheng said ZTE is in talks with all four Tier 1 carriers about the high-end phone, and that it will likely either run Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android or Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone.

"With a similar feature set [as the iPhone], ZTE can offer an alternative," Cheng said, adding that the phones would still be "more affordable" than the iPhone, though he did not say how much cheaper. The iPhone sells for around $700 before carrier subsidies.

ZTE, which has been stymied in its efforts to crack the U.S. network infrastructure market, has found more success through its device business, as has larger Chinese rival Huawei. However, so far ZTE's smarphones have only been launched by Tier 2 U.S. carriers. 

In the third quarter, ZTE shipped 18.5 million handsets and captured 4.7 percent of the global market as the world's No.4 handset vendor, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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