ZTE sub-brand Nubia pins hopes on Ronaldo-themed Z11 Max

The Cristiano Ronaldo edition smartphone comes after a number of Chinese smartphone brands, including Nubia and Huawei, have appointed world-class soccer players as brand ambassadors to boost presence and sales.

ZTE sub-brand Nubia on Tuesday rolled out its latest Z11 Max smartphone, which will be released as a limited edition etched with the Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Nubia Z11 Max comes with a 6-inch full-HD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3, a 16 megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, dual-tone LED flash, and an 8 megapixel front camera. The smartphone is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor paired with 4GB of RAM, and backed by a 4000mAh battery, with an official starting price of 1,999 yuan ($304), according to a Tencent report.

The standard edition will be available in China from June 16. A limited variant edition which comes with Ronaldo's photo laser-engraved onto the phone's back alongside his autograph will also be available from June 18. The special edition will come at an extra 300 yuan, starting at 2,299 yuan ($350).

It's the Chinese firm's first smartphone model that takes advantage of its recent investment in May when it appointed Ronaldo as its global brand ambassador.

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nubia.com

It is hard to quantify how much impact the cooperation with Ronaldo will bring about to Nubia, as it is a long process to build up brand awareness, Nubia's head Ni Fei told told Sohu after the new smartphone launch.

"Despite Nubia [having been] created over three years [ago], people still feel we are a niche brand. We've earned some awareness, but it is not big enough, and we've decided to break the bottleneck," Ni said in the report.

Nubia's decision to hire Ronaldo came just months after the largest Chinese smartphone brand Huawei announced Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi as their global brand ambassador.

Earlier reports suggested Huawei needed to pay between 5-6 million euro ($5.7-6.8 million ) a year to Messi. Nubia didn't disclose its size of its likely sky-high contract with Ronaldo.

Nubia sold 5 million and 10 million smartphones in 2014 and 2015, respectively, but the target of the company has been shifted to lift average selling price (ASP) of products rather than concentrating on sales, according to the Sohu report.

Instead of releasing budget phones priced below 1,000 yuan ($152), Nubia plans to launch more smartphone handsets targeting the mid-to-high-end market, with pricetags of 3,000 yuan ($457) or above, the report said.