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Chinese Companies Signal Cellular Intentions

LAS VEGAS – Chinese companies came to International CES to signal their intentions to take a larger share of the U.S. cellular market.

TCL stepped up its U.S. portfolio of Alcatel One Touch smartphones and tablets (see p. 10), while Huawei went to the show to underscore its transition from a low-end to a high-end cellphone supplier with three phones, including the world’s first smartphone with 6.1-inch screen and the company’s first Windows 8 phone.

ZTE sought to burnish its high-end credentials, launching its most sophisticated smartphone, the 4G LTE-equipped Grand S with quad-core 1.7GHz CPU, Android OS and 5-inch 1080p display.

Computer and tablet maker Lenovo unveiled multiple handsets, including its flagship K900 smartphone with 5.5- inch 1080p IPS screen and Intel Atom processor. It will be available in China in April, but U.S. availability is uncertain.

Said a Lenovo spokesman, “Lenovo is focusing first on developing its brand, ecosystem and channel in new markets. Once conditions are suitable, we will be ready to bring Lenovo’s world-leading smartphones to the U.S. and all other markets that apply.”

An Oppo smartphone also put in an appearance, though at the booth of Qualcomm, the phone’s chip supplier. An Oppo spokesperson in China declined to comment on whether the company, which markets Blu-ray players in the U.S., plans to bring the Oppo Find 5 to the U.S. That model features 5-inch 1080p IPS screen with 441 ppi density.

Here are the details on the products:

Huawei: The company’s first Windows 8 phone, the Ascend W1, will be available in China and Russia this month, followed by the U.S., Eastern Europe, Middle East and other countries at unspecified times.

The Windows handset features a 4-inch 480 by 800 IPS LCD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core 1.2GHz processor and Adreno 305 GPU. The 10.15mmthick phone comes with 1,950 mAh battery to deliver 470 hours of standby time. Additional product details were unavailable.

The company offered plenty of details about its two Android superphones. One sports a 720p 6.1-inch screen, while the other features a 5-inch 1080p screen. Both models have a quad-core 1.5GHz CPU, Android 4.1 OS, back-sides that curve from side to side for a comfortable grip, and very-high-capacity batteries, with the 6.1- inch Ascend Mate promoted as offering the highestcapacity cellphone battery in the world at 4,050 mAh. That battery delivers more than 22 hours of talk time or 14 hours of web browsing or more than 10 hours of video playback, said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group.

The company is talking with U.S. carriers to bring the superphones here, he said.

The 6.1-inch Ascend Mate is a 9.99mm-thick device with 1GB RAM, 8GB memory, 64GB MicroSD slot, 4,050 mAh battery, 1,280 by 720p HD screen resolution, and such features as Magic Touch technology, which enables the touchscreen to be controlled by gloved hands.

The Mate’s Floating Windows technology lets users display two screens at once for multitasking. Guiding Wizard technology is an “augmented reality” turn-byturn navigation app that superimposes directional arrows at pictures of intersections or buildings.

The Mate also features one-handed user interface, positioning the virtual dialing keypad and QWERTY keyboard to the left or right of the big screen.

The Mate will be available in the U.S. with 4G LTE. It wasn’t known whether the second superphone, the Ascend D2, would be available here in an LTE version. The version shown at CES featured GSM/HSPA+ technology.

The Ascend D2 features 1080p display with 443 ppi pixel density to exceed that of the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III. Its 3,000 mAh battery offers twice the capacity of the iPhone 5’s battery to deliver two-day power in normal use, Yu said.

The D2 also features such step-up camera capabilities as 13-megapixel capture, f/2.2 aperture, backside illumination and high dynamic range (HDR). It also has a rugged metal chassis said to offer “full protection from dust and liquid sprays,” according to company literature.

Lenovo: The company’s flagship smartphone, the K900, features 5.5-inch 1080p IPS screen and measures only 6.9mm in thickness. It’s powered by an Intel Atom processor.

The K900 is one of the first smartphones in the world to combine a 5.5-inch IPS display with 1080p resolution with more than 400 ppi. The display uses Gorilla Glass 2.

Intel hasn’t released complete specs for its smartphone processor.

The phone also features F/1.8 focal-length rearcamera lens, making it the first smartphone to offer such a wide aperture for low-light picture-taking, the company said.

The K900 smartphone will be available beginning in April in China.

Oppo: The Find 5 is an Android 4.1 phone with 5-inch 1080p IPS screen with 441 ppi pixel density. The unit features 4G HSPA+42 in the U.S. AWS and 850/1900MHz bands, quad-core 1.5GHz CPU, 2GB RAM, and ability to record video at 120 fps.

ZTE: The company introduced the 4G LTEequipped Grand S, an Android phone with quad-core 1.7GHz Android phone, 5-inch 1080p display and 6.9mm-thick chassis.

Executives called the phone the world’s thinnest quad-core LTE phone with 5-inch FullHD display.

The phone will launch first in China in the late first quarter or early second quarter, and the company is in discussions with U.S. carriers to launch the device.

The Android 4.1 phone is the company’s first cellphone with 1080p display and the company’s thinnest phone to date, executives said during the show.

The display features a pixel resolution of 440 ppi, exceeding that of the 326 ppi iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy SII, the company said.