PCWorld is reporting that Chinese manufacturer ZTE is planning on introducing Android powered superphones as part of their portfolio in 2012. One of the key reasons for this move is penetration in the United States.
ZTE is currently the fourth largest manufacturer of mobile phones by shipment in the world. Until now they’ve specialized in basic phones, feature phones and low end Android devices.
More after the break
ZTE was first introduced in the United States through prepaid national carrier Cricket Wireless with the ZTE Score. The ZTE score was the first Cricket Wireless phone in their Best Buy peg hook program putting them in most of the United States.
ZTE quickly followed up with another low end smartphone on AT&T called the AT&T avail and the ZTE Warp on Boost Mobile. The Warp is the closest thing they have to a high end Android device. The quality of ZTE devices is comparable with other more established OEM’s like HTC and Samsung in that category of devices (prepaid). It’s not that ZTE makes bad hardware but their high number of phones sold worldwide is based on their saturation at lower price points in other parts of the world and in emerging markets.
There have been rumors that ZTE is also working on an Android tablet that we may see on one or more of the tier one carriers in the U.S.
ZTE was founded by an ex Chinese military officer, Ren Zhengfei, which prompted them being singled out alongside Huawei in an intelligence investigation by the U.S. government. So far those claims seem unfounded.
We expect to see ZTE unveil their first flagship Android superphones at either CES in January or MWC in February of 2012.