ZTE launches Android 2.3 smartphone, promises LTE tablets

Skate is the latest addition to ZTE's portfolio of low-cost smartphones. It has a 4.3-inch screen and runs Android version 2.3, the company announced at Mobile World Congress on Monday.

The Skate will be ZTE's flagship smartphone when it starts shipping globally in May. Screens over 4 inches in size are proving a popular element on other smartphones at Mobile World Congress, including the Samsung Galaxy S II and LG Electronics' Optimus 3D.

Where the Samsung and LG phones come with a 1GHz dual-core processor, ZTE has instead gone with an 800MHz processor to keep the cost down. At 120 grams, the ZTE smartphone weighs about the same as the Samsung device.

Most of the Skate's other specifications are also fairly basic by today's smartphone standards, including a 5-megapixel camera, A-GPS (Assisted-GPS) and Internet access using HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) at 7.2M bps (bits per second). What the Skate will eventually cost remains to be seen: ZTE isn't announcing any pricing before operators that will sell the smartphone weigh in.

At Mobile World Congress, ZTE also announced plans to launch a tablet running Android 3.0, the version optimized for tablets, in the third quarter. It will have a 10.1-inch screen with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels.

Before that, in the second quarter the company will start shipping tablets that will be able to access the Internet using either WiMax or LTE (Long-Term Evolution). Operators are now rolling out LTE networks using a variety of different frequency bands. On top of ZTE's list is the 700MHz band used by Verizon Wireless in the U.S. and the 2.6GHz band used in Scandinavia.

When it comes to smartphones equipped with LTE the company is taking a wait-and-see approach, but might launch a phone this year, according to a spokesman.

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