China Unicom, the 2nd largest carrier in China, is releasing a self-branded smartphone before the end of 2010. The Uphone, constructed with Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp., will be their first self-branded smartphone device.
Their intention for the Uphone is that it will draw customers to data plans on their 3G network. Like their competitors, China Unicom is suffering from waning profits on voice calls. They are hoping to increase their revenues by shifting consumers over to more expensive data contracts with smartphones.
The largest Chinese carrier, China Mobile Ltd. already sells a self-branded smartphone, called the Ophone. You might have noticed the theme here; the carriers seem to be picking up on the marketability of the iPhone, which has made a huge splash as China Unicom's exclusive device.
There is currently no additional pricing or technical information, but we anticipate that it will be an Android device. Both ZTE and Huawei have enjoyed increasing popularity and international recognition for their recent forays into low-cost, high-function smartphones, like the Huawei U8150 IDEOS.