Baidu confirms plans for low-cost smartphone

Chinese search giant announces handset, Changdong H5018, will be manufactured by Foxconn and distributed in conjunction with China Unicom, and will be powered by Baidu's operating system with 100GB storage on Wangpan.

Baidu has announced plans to launch a low-cost smartphone, marking its entrance into China's mass smartphone market.

The smartphone, Changhong H5018, is manufactured by Foxconn and released in cooperation with China Unicom, and will sell for less than RMB 1,000 (US$158.28), the company said in press statment released Tuesday. It did not say when the device will be released, but noted that the phone can be purchased through designated channels in China "in the very near future".

The announcement confirms reports last month that the Chinese search giant had engaged Foxconn in talks regarding a low-priced handset.

The H5018  will be powered by Baidu's own mobile operating system (OS), Yi, and will be the first mobile device to run the company's Cloud Smart terminal platform. It will also come with 100GB of cloud storage on Wangpan, China's equivalent of Dropbox and Google Drive.

"The Baidu Cloud Smart terminal platform is a crucial step in Baidu's overall cloud strategy in the mobile Internet sphere," Jing Wang, Baidu's vice president of engineering, said in the statement. "It is not only meant to create a high-quality, smart mobile experience for users, but also, more importantly, it will significantly lower manufacturing costs for many mobile manufacturers and cooperating partners."

Baidu's entrance into China's low-cost handset market will see it competing with local phone manufacturers Huawei, ZTE, HTC, Lenovo and Xiaomi.

Its CEO Robin Li earlier this year identified mobile as an important growth channel. The company last year also announced a partnership with U.S. hardware maker, Dell, to develop tablets and smartphones based on the Yi OS.