Our recent musings about ZTE have centred around the dubiously named Nubia line the Chinese brand announced in October, with the debut Nubia Z5 having posed for the cameras just last week.
We said at the time it marked ZTE's intentions to have a real go at the premium end of the smartphone spectrum, but it turns out that's only half the story.
New ZTE global chief design director Hagen Fendler has revealed in an interview that the company will lift the lid on another high-end device at CES 2013 in Las Vegas next month, one that will stand alongside the Nubia brand but will not be part of it.
“It will kind of be a starting point of a new design era for ZTE,” Fendler promised in the ComputerWorld interview. “The Nubia brand is a second brand, which we use to address the high end in parallel to this activity.”
It's all part of the now-familiar story of a lesser-known brand among the mainstream pushing to raise its profile and take on the more established players.
We heard the same sort of thing from Huawei this time last year, though turning the promise into a reality has proved a little more tricky – as it normally is.
The success story they're all trying to emulate is HTC, a company that (like ZTE) initially enjoyed much of its success in the West as the manufacturer behind carrier-branded devices, including the debut Android handset the T-Mobile G1, before becoming established as a leading brand itself (largely thanks to that association with Android).
HTC has lost its way a bit since then, though, and it's largely that void created by the misfortunes not only of HTC, but RIM and Nokia too, that have left third spot in the global smartphone pecking order behind Samsung and Apple largely up for grabs.
On the global stage ZTE has already overtaken HTC to claim fourth place behind the top two and RIM, and is set to overtake the BlackBerry maker's market share anytime soon.
But it doesn't have much of a presence in the high-end market, and that's where most of the money is being made. To change that, ZTE is setting up a new European design centre in Germany, and Fendler suggests the upcoming premium offering will start to set the tone as to the kind of products it will be tasked with coming up with.
“Over time, we'll get a more and more consistent portfolio in our design approach,” he said. “And more and more, there will be a clear identity of what does it mean to have a product designed by ZTE.”