ZTE plans high-end smartphones for the US in 2012

Chinese phone maker ZTE has expressed its plans to introduce high-end smartphones for the US market sometime in mid-2012. The company has been more well known for its low-end devices such as those offered contract-free through Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS as well as from major carriers such as AT&T.

In an interview in Hong Kong with the Wall Street Journal, ZTE's North American president, Lixin Cheng, revealed that the handset maker is planning to offer a high-end smartphone compatible with 4G LTE networks that would arrive sometime near the middle of next year. Cheng believes that the US will be the largest market for ZTE's handsets by 2015.

The high-end ZTE smartphone is expected to have features similar to the iPhone but priced slightly below it. Despite being much lesser known, ZTE has been seeing significant growth, having grown to a 5 percent share of global cellphone shipments in Q3 of this year. It's cellphone shipments (including both smartphone and feature phones) surpasses that of Apple and ranks fourth in the world.

Much like HTC, ZTE has been making private label devices for other companies and carriers and will be stepping out with its own brand in the US for the first time when its high-end smartphone launches next year. The company also makes mobile hotspots and USB wireless dongles for carriers like T-Mobile and Verizon. It is still in talks with the carriers regarding the new high-end device, which will run either Google's Android or Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 mobile operating systems.

[via LA Times]