ZTE loads up on Android, Windows and LTE with high-end devices

BARCELONA, Spain--ZTE made no pretense in its ambitions to become one of the top smartphone makers in the world with a new high-end Android smartphone called the Era, a new phone running Android version 4.0, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich. The company also announced a new Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone, the ZTE Orbit. The Chinese vendor also announced other smartphones and tablets.

ZTE used its press conference here at Mobile World Congress to announce eight new devices in total and once again signaled its ambitions to become one of the world's top three handset vendors by shipments by 2015. According to research firm IDC, ZTE was fifth in the world in the fourth quarter with 17.1 million total unit shipments, just behind LG's 17.7 million. However, at other times during the year, IDC ranked ZTE as No. 4, and Gartner ranked ZTE as No. 4 in the fourth quarter. "This is a new era for the ZTE brand," proclaimed He Shiyou, the head of ZTE's handset division.

Like its fellow Chinese vendor Huawei, ZTE is trying to establish itself as a premier device maker, moving beyond the mass market devices that have traditionally been its stock in trade. The most high-end device ZTE announced was the Era. The devices runs on the Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 version of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, and sports Nvidia's quad-core Tegra chipset with an Nvidia Icera 450 HSPA+ modem. The device, just 7.8mm thick, also has 4.3 inch qHD screen, 8 GB of memory, HD voice and Dolby sound. Like ZTE's other newly announced Android devices, it also features the new MiFavor user interface, which ZTE hopes will simplify the Android experience. ZTE said the Era will be launched in Europe and China in the second half of 2012, but did not say anything about the device coming to the U.S. market.

Additionally, ZTE announced the Orbit, its latest Windows Phone, which joins the previously announced Tania. The Orbit, like Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) Lumia 610, which was also announced today, supports the latest version of Windows Phone software, which will allow phones with as little as 256 MB of RAM to run Windows Phone. The new software should enable Microsoft and its partners to drive the price points of its Windows Phones down and push the platform further into emerging markets. The ZTE Orbit has 4 GB of memory, HD Voice and a 5-megapixel camera, and will be available in the second quarter.

ZTE also announced two quad-core tablets, the 7-inch T98 and 10.1-inch PF 100, which each powered by Nvidia's Tegra 3 chipset. The company also announced three LTE tablets--the V6, V8 and V96--all with Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) silicon. ZTE also unveiled two LTE Android smartphones and an UMTS tablet, with Qualcomm chips. ZTE was not specific about which devices will come to the U.S. market, but the company said it expects to bring LTE handsets to the U.S. market in the fourth quarter.

For more:
- see this ZTE Era release
- see this ZTE handset release
- see this ZTE Windows Phone release

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