High-end smart­phone wars about to es­ca­late

Lenovo’s Moto Z join­ing Sam­sung’s model to head off new iPhone re­lease

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By MASI masi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s high-end smart­phone mar­ket is ex­pected to see a fierce bat­tle in the fall as tech­nol­ogy giants Lenovo Group Ltd and Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics Co Ltd line up to re­lease their lat­est de­vices to com­pete with new iPhones, due to come out later this year.

The Chi­nese edition of Lenovo’s Phab2 Pro, the world’s first smart­phone to host ar­gu­mented re­al­ity ap­pli­ca­tions with­out the need of other ac­ces­sories, has been spot­ted on the web­site of China’s in­dus­try reg­u­la­tor, in­di­cat­ing that it will soon be launched in the coun­try.

The new de­vice, first un­veiled in June, is based on Google Inc’s Tango project and can host AR ap­pli­ca­tions such as play­ing vir­tual domi­noes on a phys­i­cal ta­ble and shoot­ing dig­i­tal ro­bots that in­habit users’ liv­ing rooms, just like the pop­u­lar Poke­mon Go game.

Lenovo de­clined to dis­close when it will re­lease Phab2 Pro in its home mar­ket. But pho­tos on the web­site of the Min­istry of In­dus­try and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy show that the new de­vice will be equipped with three rear cam­eras and one front cam­era.

Asource fa­mil­iar with Lenovo’s mo­bile busi­ness told China Daily that the Bei­jing-based firm will re­lease its Moto Z mod­u­lar hand­set in its home mar­ket at the end of Septem­ber, as part of ef­forts to re­vive its fal­ter­ing hand­set sales with highly dif­fer­en­ti­ated prod­ucts.

Moto Z has high-pow­ered mag­nets on its rear with which users can fas­ten ad­di­tional equip­ment, in­clud­ing ex­tra bat­tery power, speak­ers and pro­jec­tors.

The news came shortly af­ter Sam­sung on Tues­day launched the lat­est ver­sion of its large­screen Note 7 smart­phone to main­tain sales mo­men­tum.

James Yan, re­search di­rec­tor at Counter point Tech­nol­ogy Mar­ket Re­search, said Moto Z and Phab2 pro can eas­ily stand out in a crowded mar­ket where hand­sets look and work largely the same.

“Users in big Chi­nese cities will want to try them,” Yan said. “But they would be a niche rather than a mass mar­ket be­cause their fea­tures are too new and it will take a long time and re­sources to ed­u­cate con­sumers in small cities.”

“Also the Moto brand is, in fact, los­ing its ap­peal to Chi­nese con­sumers,” he added.

Lenovo said ear­lier it would step up re­search and devel­op­ment and build more re­tail chan­nels this year to re­gain the share it is los­ing to ri­vals Ap­ple Inc and lo­cal player Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co Ltd.

Jin Di, re­search man­ager at the re­search firm In­ter­na­tional Data Corp China, said Lenovo and Sam­sung’s new de­vices will have lim­ited im­pact on the sales of Ap­ple’s newiPhone.

“Ap­ple still dom­i­nates the pre­mium mar­ket,” Jin said.

“Though its China sales are in de­cline, its newly re­leased prod­ucts will re­main pop­u­lar thanks to its well-es­tab­lished brand im­age.”

Lenovo Chair­man and CEO Yang Yuan­qing holds up the new Phab2 Pro phone dur­ing the key­note ad­dress at the Lenovo Tech World event in San Fran­cisco.

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