China's ZTE plans UK smartphone invasion

ZTE Skate is successor to Orange San Francisco
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Chinese smartphone manufacturer ZTE is set to enter the British market with a range of devices marketed under the ZTE brand for the first time.

ZTE has long manufactured phones sold under other brands such as Orange UK's well-received Orange San Francisco, a budget Android smartphone that was notable for bundling a full-resolution screen while better known brands were flirting with low-res screens at the lower end of the market.

The manufacturer held an event in central London where ZTE announced a partnership with mobile device distie, Brightpoint UK. The firm also displayed an array of new handsets, documented with specifications and images by indie tech blog Tracy and Matt.

One of the new ZTE models is the ZTE Skate, a follow up on the Orange San Francisco, this time armed with a 4.3-inch screen and a faster 1GHz CPU. Other than that the Skate looks like a solid specced Android 2.3 Gingerbread-equipped high-end smartphone but it's likely to a price that will put pressure on big-name rivals.

ZTE's smartphones may well find a niche in the UK market among those keen to buy phones outright rather than play the two-year contract game to obtain one of the big-name brand models.

While ZTE is a little known consumer brand for now, it's worth noting that HTC too came from the same sort of white label background.

In fact ZTE makes rather a lot more phones than Taiwan-based HTC, having overtaken Blackberry-maker RIM to become the world's fifth largest manufacturer of mobile phones.

If it wasn't for pesky upstart Apple, they'd be fourth. Thems the breaks.

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