When we looked at the ZTE hardware behind the Venture and Chaser for Virgin Mobile, we saw some pretty darn low-end devices. Producing handsets like those has let ZTE pick up more of the market for budget-priced smartphones, but the company isn’t looking to limit itself to just that niche. ZTE’s Lixin Cheng, President for North America, recently discussed the company’s plans to bring higher-end hardware to the US.
Even moving-up to manufacturing more capable handsets, ZTE still expects to keep costs low, hopefully helping to drive sales. The company is optimistic about its chances for growth in the US, and thinks that by 2015 these North American sales could account for the largest portion of its business.
Cheng didn’t have many specifics available on just what kind of hardware US high-end phones might feature, but LTE is a priority, and ZTE LTE smartphones should go up for sale in the States sometime in 2012. We were expecting the first such model to show up this year, but it seems that schedule’s been moved back.
If ZTE expects to make a dent in the US market, it’s definitely going to need to ramp-up its image. With so many of its phones sold without the ZTE name on them, it lacks the kind of brand recognition other smartphone manufacturers enjoy. Maybe this higher-end hardware will be just what the company needs to attract attention, but we’ll wait to see just what gear ZTE’s engineers come up with before forming any conclusions.