Lenovo hones smartphone strategy, launches LTE Vibe Z

Lenovo hones smartphone strategy, launches LTE Vibe Z

Summary: Lenovo's Vibe Z is the company's smartphone headliner at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but really plays into a broader effort to target emerging markets.


Lenovo on Thursday launched the Vibe Z, its first LTE smartphone that's the lead for a set of new devices.

However, you won't be seeing the Vibe Z in developed markets. Lenovo is the No. 3 smart connected device maker and has navigated the post PC era better than its rivals. Using China as its home market, Lenovo has become a smartphone player, added tablets and sells four devices every second.

For instance, the Vibe Z will start at $549 and will be available in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the Philippines. To go with the Vibe Z, Lenovo launched the S930, a 6-inch screen smartphone; the S650, a 4.7-inch device, and the A859, which Lenovo describes as a 5-inch tweener smartphone.

lenovo vibe z


Lenovo has launched smartphones in 18 countries in the last two years and the S930, S650 and A859 will launch in those locales. On a conference call, Lenovo execs didn't reveal any concrete plans to take devices to the U.S. The company would have to establish carrier relationships to really compete with the likes of Samsung and LG in the Android wars. Lenovo's primary relationships in the channel revolve around the enterprise and retailers and PCs, but there's no reason why the company couldn't make smartphone headway in more developed markets.

lenovo vibe z strategy


For now, Lenovo's plan goes like this:

  • Solidify leadership in China in smartphones and tablets;
  • Expand in emerging markets with smartphones while working on the infrastructure to scale further;
  • Become a tablet player outside of China.

In that context, Lenovo's smartphone moves are part of a broader effort and product cadence that revolve around emerging markets.

Among the moving product parts:

  • The Android-powered Vibe Z operates on GSM/UMTS, has 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 and has a 7.9mm titanium body and full high-def screen to go along with a 13 megapixel rear camera. The smartphone is powered by Qualcomm's 800 quad-core 2.2GHz chip.
  • The S930 has a silver body and fabric-ish rear cover like the Vibe Z and has a 1280x720 touch screen. The S650 has a 4.7-inch 960x540 display. Both phones have MediaTek quad-core processors. The S930 starts at $319 and the S650 is $229 to start.
  • Lenovo's A859 comes in black and white, runs Android 4.2, has a 1280x720 IPS screen and starts at $219.

Topics: Mobility, Lenovo, Smartphones, CES

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Low-cost for developing markets

    Seems to me that the Nokia Lumia running Windows Phone 8 is highly competitive. High-end OS and a hardware price of -- in the UK -- of about GBP 100 (with contract).
  • Nokia Lumia

    Yes all 142 people that have purchased a Nokia Lumia running Windows 8 agree with you.
    Gary Conrad
    • Spectacular growth

      Last year we always read about "both people that had windows phones". So this is 7100% improvement. Take that Android! :)
    • Let's see, if I can get a Windows phone for $80...

      here in a developed country (which I did from Amazon in the US), and they could not keep them in stock, I suspect way more than 142 have purchased the Lumia line (my family has 5 now). Why wouldn't I or anyone else want an $80 Windows phone, rather than a $500 iPhone (or a $200-$600 Android phone)? When the world figures out the economics, I suspect it will be way more than the "7100%" growth sarcastically posted by another! The basics of smartphone usage/needs are easily met by a Windows phone: calling, text, email, browsing.
      • Low-cost WP

        "...calling, text, email, browsing" and a lot more!
    • Amost sure this DAS01 is a comment bot, Gary...

      If you check the comment and the user name it doesn't seem to be in any context with the article, it's just Windows Phone spam from a a bot or a paid shill.

      Regardless, he (or she or it) should have mentioned which Lumia device, since the 9** and 10** aren't competitively priced against Android and the likes of Moto X, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Notes are beatting the crap out of them.

      On the other hand the 5** have performed slightly better, since the are under USD$200 devices and people who opt them don't expect much from the Windows Store.

      In those price ranges, WP makes a lot of sense being a über feature phone whose tiles are a welcomed paradigm shift for those accustomed to Series 90 Nokia phones. They don't even need to care to add new apps, since the built in ones offer much of the functionality needed.

      Alas, at that price range, I don't think it makes a business case for Microsoft or Nokia, unless they start using Android board specs.
  • Specs gap

    Smartphones are obviously already a commodity. I have seen that the biggest contributor to performance differential is the amount of RAM. Unfortunately, this is the key item often left out of the specs by reviewers. From my survey, the main cost-cutter when targeting so-called emerging markets is the RAM. I suspect the maximum RAM you'll see in these Lenovo phones is 1GB. Why make phones that have all the bells and whistles but grind to a halt very quickly as they run out of memory?
  • Armchair sneerers

    Looks like Gary and paul2011 are armchair sneerers. They have no idea what they are talking about, nor have they, I expect, ever tried using a Windows Phone 8 properly, if at all.

    The WP OS is undoubtedly a considerable distance behind the 2 market leaders, but has already exceeded 10% market share in some European markets. It is, in fact, an excellent and reliable communications device with excellent integration with MS systems in the cloud and on the desktop computer, and that is what matters to many people. You can even get some decent games and other apps for it... oh, and in the Nokia version you get a really good, free satnav system...

    So, it is not lagging behind Apple and Google in these departments. No, the MS store does not hold ten zillion apps (many of which are rubbish or outdated anway), though it is growing.

    But then maybe the sneerers' only measure is the size of the app store, the rather immature "who can urinate further" consideration.
  • Diehard Lumia fan

    Since June of 2012, we have been diehard Windows phone users. My daughter and I started with the Lumia 900; in December of last year I upgraded to the 920; this December we upgraded her phone to the 1520 phablet. (I was very tempted to add the Nokia 2520 tablet to my Christmas list, but needed an exercise machine more.) Each time I think of going back to the iPhone or an Android--I was really tempted by the htc One--I stop. I have had experience with both and I and my daughter just prefer the Windows os. I am so glad I didn't go with the status quo. There are definitely perks to being a maverick.