ZTE sells China’s first 5G smartphone ahead of network launch

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ZTE booth at the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai 2019. (Image credit: TechNode/Shi Jiayi)

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 Suning.com 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.