A few days after the Salute showed up on Wirefly’s website as the first ZTE phone for Verizon Wireless, the companies today made their official introduction of the phone. The $19.99 phone is available today at Verizon Wireless Communications stores and online.
As the price implies, it’s a basic phone designed for those consumers who don’t want a bunch of features they don’t ever plan to use. However, it does come with a 2.4-inch QVGA screen, 1.3-megapixel camera, slider design and supports various Verizon Wireless services like VZNavigator, Family Locator, Social Beat, Bing Search and Backup Assistant.
ZTE USA has been trying to make headway with U.S. Tier One operators, and this marks its first announced deal. The company also has been a supplier of handsets to no-contract carrier MetroPCS Communications.
“It is a significant achievement for us,” says Jeff Ji, executive vice president at ZTE USA whose responsibilities include the Verizon Wireless account. “We believe Salute will fill a market need.”
ZTE USA says it is committed to expanding its presence in the U.S. market. Steps include more local hiring, investment and eventually what it hopes will be a range of wireless devices through a variety of carriers.
Ji says ZTE is working on both the CDMA and GSM flavors of U.S. wireless but would not comment further as to when it might supply a smartphone to a U.S. Tier 1 carrier. ZTE has put resources into the development of the Android and Windows Mobile platforms but isn’t announcing new.
The $19.99 price is after a $50 mail-in rebate and with a new two-year contract. The phone is offered free on Wirefly.com with a new Verizon Wireless account.
Meanwhile, ZTE is making news in the infrastructure space as well. The company was ranked as the leading vendor of CDMA base stations by IDC. In a research note, IDC said that by the first quarter of 2010, ZTE had shipped a total of more than 250,000 base stations, allowing the Chinese company to claim the No. 1 spot in the CDMA market with a global share of 30.3 percent.
While the IDC report notes that CDMA is alive and well, ZTE also says it was the first vendor to launch the CDMA/LTE dual mode system, enabling operators to plan for an easy migration to LTE in the future.