The Next Big Thing

ZTE aims for 'high-end' market with launch of Nubia Z9 Max smartphone

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 March, 2015, 1:23pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 April, 2015, 12:12pm

Chinese smartphone marker Nubia, which prides itself on the quality of its phone cameras, launched the Z9 Max this week with an aggressive claim: that it can shoot better photos than the iPhone 6.

The smartphone brand, a subsidiary of gadget manufacturer ZTE, is known for delivering high definition images with bright colours. China's First Lady Peng Liyuan was snapped using an older model, the Z7, to take photos during a visit to Germany last year.

Nubia hopes to go beyond just quality photos however. For its latest model, the firm hired electric-car maker BYD to make an aluminium shell that is lighter and stronger than previous phone bodies. The Z9 Max runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and supports two SIM cards.

"Chinese customers deserve high-end phones at an affordable price," said Nubia CEO Ni Fei at the product's launch.

"It should not be the case that only foreign brands occupy the high-end Chinese smartphone market."

The 16gb Z9 Max costs 2,499 yuan from the company's website. The phone retails for about half the price of an iPhone 6, but is around 25 per cent more expensive than rival Xiaomi's Mi 4 smartphone, which boasts similar stats to the Z9. Xiaomi's lower-end model, the Redmi, costs just 699 yuan.

"Our goal is to chase or surpass the iPhone's quality while selling at a price more affordable for our customers," Ni said.

Other major smartphone makers have targeted lower middle class Chinese and young people, Ni said.

Nubia's parent company ZTE sold more than 48 million phones last year, mostly low-price models. Ni said that his company sold more than five million phones in the same period and aim to sell double that in 2015.

"It's not that we don't want more market share, we want steady growth while we keep focusing on the phone quality," he said.

While China remains the company's most important market, Nubia is also exploring opprotunities in Southeast Asia, Turkey, Mexico and North America.

"After all, ZTE has done well in overseas markets. We can, too," he said.