The Next Big Thing

Chinese video streaming site LeTV launches bezel-less smartphone with live TV features

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 April, 2015, 5:59pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 April, 2015, 12:09pm

LeTV, one of China's largest video streaming websites, has made its first foray into the country's crowded smartphone market with the launch of what it calls its "superphone".

At an event in Beijing, chief executive Jia Yueting introduced the new products with a trailer that borrowed from Apple's famous 1984-inspired video targeting Microsoft's Windows operating system.

"Apple used their innovation to break Microsoft's monopoly. But today Apple monopolises the market with less innovative products," Jia said.

"LeTV will create a new ecosystem and a new 'super phone'."

This isn't the first time Jia has gone after Apple, last month he posted a promotional image for the new LeTV smartphone comparing the US tech giant to the Nazis. He later apologised, saying he only meant "that open-ended technology ecosystems are more beneficial to consumers".

The Le Superphone has a bezel-less 5.5 inch screen, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with 4GB of ram, a 21-megapixel camera, and a 3,000 mAh battery. Jia said it was a "high quality phone".

LeTV claims the smartphone is also the first in the world to use the reversible USB Type-C connector, the same as used on Apple's new Macbook.

The company's Android-based operating system EUI will "connect users with TV and films and the internet at the same time," Jia said.

Users can press a "Live" button at the bottom of the screen at any time to immediately start viewing streaming live TV, or swipe down to see a selection of TV shows and movies tailored to the user's viewing preferences.

Jia said that customers who pay a 1,500 yuan (US$250) service fee for LeTV's video-streaming and other services will be able to get the handset for free.

Founded in 2004, LeTV is the only Chinese video streaming website to have gone to IPO. According to company statistics, more than 50 million users visit the sight every day, while its market value is estimated to be upwards of 40 billion yuan (US$6.43 billion).

As well as the smartphone, Jia also announced plans for two other high-tech devices, an LeTV virtual reality helmet, and a Le Supercar which can be controlled via a users smartphone.

The company made major investments in a Silicon Valley-based research and development centre in December 2014, with more than 100 researchers working on new high-tech products.