ZTE, the Chinese telecoms equipment maker, has struck a deal which will see Canadian operator Telus exclusively sell one of ZTE's handsets.
The deal is a minor coup for ZTE as represents the first time a phone manufacturer from mainland China has directly offered a device for sale in Canada.
The handset model, the ZTE D90, has been recognised for its innovative design, winning the Red Dot Product Design Award from Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen, a Germany design association.
The ZTE D90 operates on Telus' high-speed CDMA EVDO network and features a 1.3 megapixel camera with zoom, Bluetooth support and Fastap “hot keys”, a feature that enables one-click access to many mobile data services, applications or contacts right from the home screen. For example, you press and hold “M” to get the messaging function.
Handset models come and go with amazing speed, and EngagingChina has no plans to exhaustively document all the handset deals made by China's mobile phone industry.
Nevertheless, this deal with Telus is significant as it is ZTE's first contract in North America and the Chinese firm presumably hopes it will lead to similar deals with other North American carriers and maybe even a big Tier One US carrier.
North America is regarded as the most difficult market for Chinese handset makers to break into and the move is a significant milestone in ZTE's overseas expansion. Last year, ZTE signed a deal with Telus covering EVDO data cards but this handset contract has a much greater symbolic value.
ZTE scored a similar coup in 2006 when it struck a deal with BT, the UK operator, to supply handsets for a mobile TV service. The service used the DAB-IP broadcasting standard, which has seen little interest from operators outside the UK. BT scrapped the mobile TV service last month — see this Red Herring story.
More ZTE stories in EngagingChina here.
Elsewhere on the mobile front:
Sign of the times. Nokia chose a fashion show in China to unveil its latest range of handsets, the Prism collection. Needless to say, the Prism collection — which currently comprises just two models — is aimed at “style-conscious consumers” and has a “signature diamond-cut design, featuring sharp angled lines, geometric patterns and graphic light-refracting colours.” I can see China's fashion victims queueing up at the shops for this one, but those in the west will have to wait as, interestingly, it is being launched first in China with no confirmed release date for Europe yet. More in this Wired story.