ZTE’s handset business is mainly dependent on operator channels, devices supplied through this channels are therefore built according to operator specifications. But the manufacturer has taken a new direction with its Nubia brand. Nubia’s flagship device, the Z5 hit the market in 2013 but Nubia CEO, Ni Fei says the sales volumes were not up to expectations. The Z5s and Z5s mini followed in late 2013, these 2 were sold through China’s JD.com where both models got a combined pre-order of 3.5 million units.
Nubia takes ZTE out of the low-cost consumer market and its strategy to break into the high-end market includes selling directly to the customers. This has worked for Apple in the US and Xiaomi in the Chinese market. US operators however recognize ZTE for the production of low-end smartphones, Nubia CEO Ni Fei cites a perception gap. “Our discussions with the US operators didn’t go well,” he says. “There was a mismatch. We couldn’t change their mind. After all, nobody knew who Nubia was.”
The company’s unannounced smartphone Nubia X6 runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 chip and can support all modulation schemes in all frequencies by switching the SIM card. For high resoluiton images, the X6 has a Sony 13 Megapixel CMOS image sensor which allows the user to edit the image elements in real time.
ZTE has its own chipset, “WiseFone” which integrates LTE modem with the CPU and it is built on 28-nm process. Ni Fei cites this as a back up plan in case Nubia handsets should the company want to switch from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipsets.