China unveils first Tibetan-Chinese dual language smartphone

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 October, 2013, 6:48pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 October, 2013, 1:12pm

Cellphone operator China Telecom has joined forces with handset maker Huawei to release the nation’s first Tibetan-Chinese dual language smartphone in Lhasa, capital city of Tibet Autonomous Region.

The new customised handset, developed from Huawei’s C8815 model, allows users to switch between two operating systems, one in each language, enabling dual language input and recognition, a China Telecom manager at its Tibetan branch revealed at the launch ceremony on Monday night, according to Xinhua news agency.

The smartphone will retail for 990 yuan (HK$1,252) at China Telecom stores in the Tibet Autonomous Region, according to Xinhua. An ordinary cellphone of the same model costs between 850 and 1,000 yuan on different shopping websites.

The joint development, which took four months to complete and included input from Tibet University, aimed to improve access to information for peasant communities, which account for 80 per cent of Tibet’s population of three million, a statement from China Telecom read.

The dual language smartphone would enable the extensive population scattered across the vast Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to freely access the latest technological, meteorological and disaster information from government, it said.

China Telecom first made the Tibetan language available for direct transmitting between end terminal devices in 2005.

More than 500 government officials, China Telecom employees, Tibet University faculty members and students took part in the launch ceremony.

Both Mandarin and Tibetan are officially used by government and taught in schools in the Tibet Autonomous Region, where ethnic Tibetan residents account for about 90 per cent of the population.