Lenovo hones smartphone strategy, launches LTE Vibe Z

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.
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