ZTE turns to LTE to regain ground in smartphones

Nearly half of ZTE's smartphone shipments in 2014 will be LTE devices, according to the global head of the Chinese vendor's mobile device business.

Zeng Xuezhong told reporters at a press conference on Thursday that at least 40 per cent of smartphones shipped by the company will be LTE units. Xuezhong said the company aims to ship 60 million smartphones during 2014, some 20 million more than in 2013, and predicted increasing sales of the devices in China thanks to an improved product mix in the country, Reuters reported.

Europe remains one of ZTE's main smartphone markets, alongside the U.S. and Japan, Xuezhong said. However, the vendor noted in its 2013 annual report that China is set to be a major market for LTE equipment and devices, as the country's three main operators deploy next-generation networks.

ZTE's results, issued Wednesday, show the company returned to profitability in 2013, after recording its first-ever annual loss in 2012. The company made a profit of 1.36 billion yuan (€158 million/$218 million) in 2013 compared to a loss of 2.84 billion yuan in 2012, but revenue fell 10.6 per cent in 2013--the biggest drop in the company's history, Reuters stated.

Recent figures from Gartner ranked ZTE as the world's number five mobile phone vendor in 2013. However, it has slipped out of the top five in terms of global smartphone shipments, with domestic rival Lenovo now moving up the charts.

ZTE pledged to improve the competitiveness of its mobile devices through a mix of hardware leadership, and development of software and services designed to improve the user experience on its devices. It plans to launch devices featuring "higher levels of intelligence" and will also begin focusing on wearable devices, the company stated in its annual report.

The company also said it was the "world's fastest-growing provider of 4G solutions in 2013", and that it will continue to seek fresh contracts for the technology in 2014, while also continuing to pursue 2G and 3G network upgrades and expansion contracts.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see ZTE's 2013 results release
- see this Gartner release

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