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Unlocked-Phone Market Attracting Freetel To CES

Japanese cellphone maker Freetel, established in 2013, will go to CES to bring its unlocked entry-level GSM devices to the U.S. in the first quarter.

Ian Chapman-Banks, former head of Motorola Asia, is one of the executives leading Freetel. 

The company will make its North American debut with three phones available online at and Amazon. Future distribution plans include retailers, MVNOs and carriers, a spokesperson said.

Freetel positions its phones as offering Japanese craftsmanship and high-end devices at affordable price points.

The company’s first product, Priori, is promoted as the first low-end smartphone in the Japan market. Since then, the company launched 12 mobile phones “that offer all of the features and functions that today’s consumer needs to access content, share images, capture selfies and more with a truly affordable price tag,” the spokesperson said.

Details of the first three phones for North America were not revealed, but the company offers a mix of Android and Windows 10 Mobile phones. The Android 5.1 Samurai Kiwami, for example, features 4G, 6-inch display, octacore processor, 3GB RAM, and 21-megapixel main camera. The Windows 10 Katana 1 features 4.5-inch display, quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, and 4G, while the Katana 2 Windows 10 Mobile phone steps up to 5-inch display and 2GB RAM.

The company’s U.S. offices are in West Chicago, Ill. Headquarters are in Tokyo.