China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) took the wraps off M701 and M601, two in-house developed low-end smartphones, to make inroads into handset sector.

Powered by Android system, M701 and M601 are priced at 1,299 yuan ($211.99) and 499 yuan, featuring 5-inch and 4-inch screens, respectively. The two smartphones support GSM, TD and WCDMA networks, which means that China Unicom subscribers also can use these two handsets. The two China Mobile branded handsets will be on sale in mid-August. The company also released accessories for the new products, including chargers and WiFi devices.


China Mobile is being accused of encroaching upon the businesses of hardware manufacturers, disturbing the harmony in industrial eco-system. But China Mobile defended that it is an international practice for telecom operators to develop handsets. A spate of international telecom carriers launched homegrown terminal products in the past decade, such as Verison, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Softbank, according to Tang Jianfeng, deputy manager of the company’s mobile terminal unit.

Tang emphasized that China Mobile’s hardware partners support the company’s move to release homegrown smartphones, because M701 and M601 avoided the clients of China Mobile’s cooperators to focus on low-end market. ZTE, Huawei and CoolPad, three major handset providers of the company, said that their businesses will not be affected by China Mobile’s new products.

China Mobile released low-end handsets to enrich the product lineup for its 2G network that still accounts for 70% to 80% of its total subscribers, according to Liu Qicheng, chief-editor of Low-end handset sector has been dominated by copycat manufacturers and neglected by mainstream smartphone makers. The release of China Mobile branded phones will put curbs the copycat phones rather than mount challenges to its partners, who are usually leading domestic phone makers.

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Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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