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MWC 2015 – Why ZTE And Its Smartphones Are Here To Stay

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Chinese manufacturer sees differentiation as the key to gaining market share

Samsung and HTC dominated the MWC 2015 agenda with their new flagship smartphone releases, but there are growing signs that these established companies may soon face a stiff challenge from growing rivals.

ZTE had probably the most visually stunning booth at the show, showing off the its wide range of new mobile devices, and the company told TechWeekEurope this was only the beginning of its attempt to grab control of the smartphone market.

zte grand s3Eye-catching

The company showed off three new devices at the show, marking its biggest entry yet at MWC. Top of the range was the Grand S3 (pictured left), a premium smartphone featuring a 5.5in Full HD display, a Snapdragon 801 2.5Ghz processor, 3GB of RAM, 16MP rear camera and 3100mAh battery, putting it level with many of the top devices on the market today.

What really makes it stand out though, senior director of technology and partnership strategy marketing Waiiman Lam said, are some nifty new interface features, including a revolutionary eye-scanning biometric technology which does away with the need for passwords. In what ZTE says is an industry first, the Eyeprint ID software creates a unique biometric portrait of a user by scanning the patterns of blood vessels in their eyeball, which can then be used to authenticate and unlock the device.

“There are other biometric ways of getting in to your device…but we believe eye scanning is one of the most secure, if not the most secure,” Lam says, noting that some facial recognition systems can be tricked by a video or printout of a user’s face.

“A password by itself is not secure,” Lam says, “but even if I knew your eye shape, I couldn’t use this!”

zte star 2Premium

Also on display was the Star 2, another high-end device featuring system-level voice control which allows you to interact with your device at any time via a set of pre-determined commands. Described as a premium device ideal for enterprise users or consumers looking for an eye-catching device, the glass-bodied Star 2 is set to launch to European markets at the CeBIT show later this month.

Lastly, there was the Blade S6, which Lam describes as a ‘mass-market premium device’. Featuring a curved design and feel, it was the world’s first device to run Android Lollipop out of the box, and also features a Snapdragon 615 chipset, making it an appealing prospect at just $249.

“It might not be the high-end, but we make sure that the experience is no different, in terms of performance,” Lam added.

Choices, choices

But why should consumer choose one of ZTE’s devices over one from Samsung or HTC?

Lam says it’s down to a number of factors that consumers consider whenever they go out to buy a new smartphone, something the company is keenly aware of as it does a lot of consumer surveys to find out what makes them tick.

Primarily, what attracts consumers is an appealing design, alongside features such as a good battery life or detailed camera, but often these are too similar between devices.

“What we think ZTE is good at is differentiated features,” Lam says, highlighting unique services such as the Star 2’s built-in voice control as something that will help the company’s devices stand out from the crowd.

“We have the technologies, we have the security features, we have the voice control…they’re innovative, and we think they’re different from all the other guys on the market.”

ZTE’s challenge is now to crack the European market, which Lam hopes will be aided by the impressive range of new devices.

“The European market as a whole is very important for ZTE,” he notes, “especially for 2015. We are definitely going to do a lot more – we made a lot of progress last year in the European market and our results are pretty good. This year we’re going to do more.”

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