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The Next Big Thing

Chinese firm Nubia launches 'bezel-less' Z9 smartphone after copyright dispute with Huawei

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 May, 2015, 11:40am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 May, 2015, 12:32pm

Rising Chinese smartphone maker Nubia has launched its high-end model Z9 – which comes without a bezel – in Beijing, emphasising its new touch ID and camera technology.

Attention on the launch is high as it comes after Nubia, whose parent company is ZTE, one of the two largest homegrown telecoms equipment makers in China, accused rival Huawei two weeks ago of stealing its core camera technology.

“The heated competition in the smartphone business is all about patents and technology. We need to protect our copyrights,” Felix Fu, Nubia’s senior vice-president told the South China Morning Post.

He says copycats only take “a second” to rip off a firm’s technology – but insisted those copycats will not win in the long run.

“Our act is a good thing to encourage the industry to innovate and protect [their] patents,” he said.

Lawyers representing Nubia said that the Huawei P8 and the Honor X2 smartphones added certain features based on Nubia’s key technology – which they deem a copyright violation.

Despite the legal tangles, Nubia is battling for a leading position on mobile cameras and other technologies.

The new bezel-less model Z9, coming without the typical frame, highlights so-called Frame interactive Technology (FiT), which enables special functions using integrations between the user’s hands and the phone.

For example, the technology allows users to take photos automatically, when two thumbs and two forefingers hold the frame of the phone.

Its Three in One (TiO) technology converts three buttons of power, volume and touch ID into one.

It runs on Nubia’s UI 3.0 system and supports two SIM cards.

“Our inspiration comes from our customers and their desire to break restrictions and even design their own smartphone. They want simple, faster and interactive features,” Fu said.

The 32gb Z9 Classic costs 3,499 yuan (HK$4,429) and the Z9 VIP costs 4,499 yuan from its official website.

It is 30 per cent cheaper than a 16-gigabyte iPhone 6, which is in high demand in China. Apple’s first-quarter report showed that it topped the Chinese smartphone market with 26.1 per cent market share.

Nubia sold five million smartphones last year and it has set a goal to double sales this year.

The company is currently promoting experience shops, where customers can try the gadgets before purchase.

“We aim to build 300 experience shops in large Chinese cities by this summer and 1,000 around the country by the end of the year,” Fu said.