Chinese smartphone maker ZTE sold the country’s first 5G-enabled smartphone on Monday ahead of a national rollout of 5G wireless networks this year, media outlet Jiemian reported.

Why it matters: The battle for China’s 5G smartphone market has intensified as smartphone makers scramble to offer cutting-edge devices.

  • Seven 5G handsets made by Chinese vendors such as Huawei, Xiaomi, and ZTE are in the pipeline after last month they received China Compulsory Certifications, a safety accreditation for products sold on the domestic market, from the China Quality Certification Center.
  • Huawei last month announced its first 5G smartphone, the Mate 20 X, for the Chinese market. The handset will formally go on sale on August 16, said the company.
  • Greater China, which includes mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, will account for 34.0% of global 5G smartphone shipments in 2023, according to research firm Canalys.

Details: The first 5G smartphone, ZTE’s Axon 10 Pro, was sold at a retail store of e-commerce firm in Beijing on Monday morning, said the report.

  • The ZTE smartphone starts at RMB 4,999 (around $720), and it supports only non-stand-alone networks, which still rely on existing 4G infrastructure for some functions.
  • The handset is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 mobile platform and a 4000mAh capacity battery with wireless charging support, China Daily reported last month.

Context: China is determined to build the world’s biggest 5G networks by making sure its state-owned carriers have access to bandwidth for 5G networks for nominal fees as well as inexpensive equipment.

  • China’s three major state-owned carriers China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom were granted commercial 5G licenses by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in June.
  • Following South Korea, the US, Australia, and the UK, China is expected to begin commercial use of 5G nationwide on October 1.

Wei Sheng

Wei Sheng is TechNode's feature editor. You can contact him at shengwei [at] technode [dot] com.

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