November 18, 2010 / 4:25 AM / 7 years ago

China Unicom to launch own-brand smartphone by year-end

HONG KONG (Reuters) - China Unicom, the country’s No.2 mobile operator, said it will launch an own-brand smartphone series by the end of this year to draw more business to its 3G data network.

The Uphone would be manufactured by Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp, but pricing details and production numbers had not yet been set, Zhang Zhijiang, head of China Unicom’s technology department, said on Thursday.

“We haven’t set prices yet because the phone will only be released at the end of this year,” Zhang said.

China Unicom is the only mobile operator authorized to sell Apple Inc’s iPhone in China. Bigger rival China Mobile Ltd also sells a self-branded smartphone, which it calls the Ophone.

While the iPhone has grabbed global headlines, ZTE’s and Huawei’s smartphones, most based on Google Inc’s free Android operating system, are quietly gaining a reputation for their functionality at lower costs.

Like their peers in mature markets, all of China’s three mobile operators are trying to attract customers to their data networks to fuel growth as revenue from voice calls falls amid rising competition and mobile phone penetration rates.

Reporting by Huang Yuntao; Editing by Chris Lewis

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