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Chinese smartphone brand ZTE, favourite of China's first lady, to unveil bezel-less device

ZTE expected to unveil the much-anticipated Nubia Z9 later this month

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 March, 2015, 2:57pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 March, 2015, 6:50pm

China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan has not been seen with her smartphone in about a year, but if she stays loyal to the brand she was last seen using publicly, she may have a bezel-less phone to dazzle the public soon.

Shenzhen-based ZTE, a leading mainland telecommunications equipment maker that has rapidly expanded its smartphone business in recent years, is slated to unveil a brand new edge-less smartphone at the end of the month.

It remains to be seen whether former PLA singer Peng, wife of Chinese president Xi Jinping, will decide to stick with ZTE, a homegrown technology brand strongly promoted by Beijing.

Peng hasn't always been a ZTE fan, during a state visit to Mexico in 2013, she was snapped using an iPhone 5. The incident caused intense debate online, with many commentators questioning whether China's First Lady should use a foreign brand, especially when electronic devices pose such high potential security risks. 

In March last year, Peng was photographed using the ZTE Nubia Z5 mini at a soccer match in Germany.

This week, Nubia, a smartphone line under ZTE, posted an invitation to a press launch on its official Weibo page, showing a large number "9" along with the date March 26, leading some bloggers to assume it would be the launch of the new device. The device had been expected to debut at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, but fans were left disappointed. 

While ZTE has yet to officially reveal its new smartphone, some images purporting to be the new Nubia Z9 have surfaced online in recent weeks, showing surprisingly thin edges around the device’s screen.

A ZTE representative declined to comment further on the highly anticipated new smartphone.

Pre-release speculation and leaks suggest that the new smartphone will most likely be a high-end device with a display of 5.5-inches or larger, a QHD or 2K (2560 x 1440) resolution screen and a bezel less display. The smartphone is expected to be powered by Qualcomm's 8 Core Snapdragon 810 chipset which supports 64-bit applications.

ZTE has not yet confirmed any of the rumored physical design or hardware specifications of the Nubia Z9. There is also little details about pricing and availability of the Nubia phone, though the device is most likely to be initially available only in China.

Global brands including Apple and Samsung have launched new smartphone models in recent months. In Barcelona this month, Samsung unveiled its metal and glass Galaxy S6 and a sleeker, curved Galaxy S6 Edge, pitched directly against the hugely popular Apple iPhone 6.

According to industry consultancy IDC, Samsung’s market share in smartphones in China in the second half of 2014 dropped from 11 per cent to just 7.9 per cent, while Apple's market share rose from 5 per cent to 12.3 per cent thanks to the introduction of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Leading the pack still was Xiaomi, another Chinese homegrown technology star with global ambitions, though its market share dropped to 13.7 per cent from 14.8 per cent towards the end of 2014.