$300 Cyanogen-powered ZUK Z1 coming to Europe, US in September

A new budget smartphone with high-end specs is set to arrive next month.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
The ZUK Z1 running Cyanogen 12.1.
Image: Cyanogen

ZUK, the Chinese hardware startup backed by Lenovo, has unveiled a new version of its Cynaogen OS-powered Z1 for the international market.

The device, set to go on sale this September, will give consumers outside of China a taste of the ZUK's Z1 smartphone. The company says it has taken two million pre-orders for the Chinese version of the device since it began accepting them a week ago.

The international version of the Z1 also showcases Cyanogen on high-end devices - an area of the market it was absent from following its split with OnePlus earlier this year and setback with the Alcatel Onetouch Hero 2+. The handset, shelved shortly after its release, was meant to mark Cyanogen's hardware debut in the US this summer.

The international Z1 will be largely the same as the Chinese version and, judging by its specs, it's likely to give the OnePlus 2 a run for its money, particularly if ZUK can do a better job of distributing its handsets to consumers than OnePlus has with its much-maligned invite system.

The international edition Z1 will feature a 5.5-inch full HD display, 4100 mAh capacity battery, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB RAM, 64 GB storage, and to top it off, a reversible Type-C port and fingerprint sensor. ZUK went with a 13-megapixel main camera and eight-megapixel selfie shooter.

The device will also ship with the Android Lollipop-based Cyanogen OS 12.1. According to ZUK, it will go on sale in Europe, America, southeast Asia, and the Middle East from this September, with a starting price of $299.

ZUK says that it has struck a partnership with Amazon to "further reduce the cost as well as improve the customer experience" of the Z1, but it's not clear whether it intends to sell the handset on Amazon, or as Cyanogen partner Blu has previously said, use Amazon's app store instead of Google Play to deliver apps for the device.

Borrowing from Xiaomi's marketing, ZUK said that it has sold 40,000 handsets on the first day it kicked off sales in China, on August 18.

The Z1 arrives as Lenovo, along with rival Android handset makers, struggle for profitability in the smartphone market. The company last week announced it was laying off 3,200 people, five percent of its total workforce. Lenovo said it would restructure its smartphone development, production and manufacturing businesses to simplify its merged operations with Motorola.

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