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CES 2013: Lenovo Expands Smartphone Push With New Handsets

Freelance Technology Reporter for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

Lenovo has unveiled six new smartphones as it seeks to upset the existing mobile handset apple-cart

Lenovo has expanded its smartphone portfolio as it seeks to upset the mobile handset status quo, however its devices will only appear in certain markets.

The six new smartphone models will initially be sold only in China and other “select global markets,” according to announcements Lenovo made 7 and 8 January at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Expanded Portfolio

That could mean that China-based Lenovo is launching the new smartphones on a limited basis to see how they sell around the world before bringing them into the United States and other major world consumer markets where they would compete with established market leaders such as Apple, Samsung, Google Android and others.

Neither prices nor carriers have yet been announced for the phones.

By releasing a full line of models, the company hopes to offer something for every potential user as it works to boost the sales of its smartphones, which it began selling in China in 2010.

“For smartphone users, one size does not fit all,” Liu Jun, senior vice president of the Lenovo Group, said in a statement. “We’ve learned from our customers, and we know they have many different, unique reasons for selecting Lenovo smartphones.

Lenovo’s new portfolio is designed for a wide range of customers globally, “with a phone for every user,” said Jun.

Lenovo’s flagship smartphone will be the K900, which includes a 5.5-inch full 1080p HD touch-screen with 400 pixels per inch and Gorilla Glass 2, according to Lenovo. The phone, which is just 6.9 millimeters (mm) thick, runs on an Intel Atom processor and is built into a housing made from a composite of stainless steel alloy and polycarbonate. The K900 also includes a 13-megapixel front camera with an F1.8 focal length lens, as well as a rearview camera. The K900 will debut in China in April and will spread to other markets soon after, said Lenovo officials.

The other five smartphone models from Lenovo include:

  • The S890 phone, which is aimed at consumers who want devices customised for the delivery of entertainment content. The S890 features a 5-inch, 960×540 HD screen and an 8MP auto-flash camera. The phone is 9.3 mm thick and weighs 6.2 ounces, giving it a small, nimble feel.
  • The IdeaPhone S720, which Lenovo is targeting as a multimedia workhorse for busy users on the go. The S720 includes built-in Dolby Digital Plus special camera software and a dual-core CPU for enhanced performance. The phone also includes a 2000-milliamp-hour (mAh) battery and a 4.5-inch 960×540 display, as well as an 8MP front camera and a 1MP rear camera.
  • The IdeaPhone P770 business smartphone, with a large and powerful 3500mAh battery and enhanced power-management software that can help deliver up to 30 hours of talk time between charges. The P770 also includes capabilities that allow it to serve as a charger for other devices, while easily sharing files and data secured by native antivirus software. The smartphone also includes dual Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) capabilities that allow users to move across networks around the world.
  • The A800 is Lenovo’s new entry-level smartphone, featuring a dual-core, 1.2GHz CPU and dual SIM slots for switching between data plans while travelling. The A800 includes a 4.5-inch FWVGA display and a 2000mAh battery.
  • The IdeaPhoneA690 is another entry-level smartphone, featuring a 4.0-inch 800-by-480 WVGA screen and dual SIM capabilities.

Mobile Focus

These five phones are slated to be offered for sale later in January starting in China with other markets to be announced, according to Lenovo.

Daniel Maycock, a mobile IT analyst with Slalom Consulting, told eWEEK that Lenovo’s broad foray into the smartphone marketplace is reasonable because sales of its core laptop and desktop computer products are dropping as users turn to tablets, smartphones and other more mobile computing platforms.

“To be a really competitive OEM, you have to have a mobile play,” said Maycock. And it also is understandable that Lenovo isn’t initially targeting its new phone line for US sales because competitors such as Samsung already have a strong presence and market penetration here, he said.

“Maybe Lenovo thought to go to places where companies like Nokia might have dropped the ball in the smartphone space, like in Asia,” he said. “I think there’s more opportunity there for them. They’re an Asian company. That’s just a better move for them if they want to get competitive to start.”

Still, though the US smartphone market is filled with companies such as Apple, Samsung, Google, Research in Motion, HTC, Nokia and others, plenty of potential room still exists for phones from Lenovo in the United States, Maycock said.

“Android and Samsung are the competitors to beat,” he said. “It makes sense that Lenovo would do this.”

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Originally published on eWeek.