ZTE's Grand S II smartphone to get U.S. carrier support

LAS VEGAS--ZTE's new flagship Grand S II smartphone will be backed by a U.S. carrier sometime in the first half of 2013, according to a senior ZTE executive.

Chinese handset and network gear maker ZTE unveiled the Grand S II here at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show. The device is the most noteworthy of a range of products the company announced. In an interview with FierceWireless, ZTE USA Lixin Cheng said the phone, along with the nubia 5S and nubia 5S mini phones, will be coming to the United States. He declined to say which carrier or carriers will sell the phones, and also declined to provide pricing or availability information.

The Grand S II runs Android 4.3 and sports a quad-core Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 800 processor, a 5.5-inch full HD, 1080p display, a 13-megapixel camera and a 3,000 mAh battery. However, the phone's voice recognition software is its key feature; the software lets users wake up the phone, take photos and navigate in driving mode. Additionally, the phone can be trained to recognize just one specific user's voice, as is the case with the Moto X from Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Motorola Mobile.

ZTE recently broke off its smartphone operation into a separate business group led by Executive Vice President Zeng Xuezhong, who was previously in charge of ZTE's operations in China. Cheng said the new unit does not yet have a goal in terms of smartphone shipments for 2014, but that the company is going to me more squarely focused on the consumer experience and innovating faster.

ZTE previously set a goal to be the world's third largest handset maker by shipments in 2016. Cheng noted that in 2012, ZTE shipped a total of 40 million smartphones, and he said that ZTE is "much more confident we are well on track to achieve that goal" of being the No. 3 handset maker in 2016.

Here at CES, ZTE also announced its first smart watch, the BlueWatch, which features a built-in pedometer, and records and analyzes data, especially biometric information. The watch tethers to a smartphone via Bluetooth, enabling on-wrist control of calls, photography, and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Cheng said the BlueWatch is aimed at the Chinese market but that ZTE will bring wearable computing devices to the U.S. market. However, Cheng said OEMs face challenges in wearables. One route is to make the devices accessories to phones, and another is to create wearables with their own connectivity independent of phones. The key thing, he said, is to create value for customers. "If we cannot continue to solve that challenge and make clear the value to consumers, I believe massive adoption won't be coming," he said. Cheng said it might take one and a half to two years for wearables to take off.

For more:
- see this CNET article

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