updated 07:20 pm EDT, Sun March 20, 2011
ZTE says WP7 testing but dismissed by Microsoft
ZTE's UK mobile division head Wu Sa in an interview on Friday hinted that his company had been shot down by Microsoft for trying to make too cheap a Windows Phone 7 device. The executive confirmed that it had been testing WP7 phones in its labs but suggested that Microsoft hadn't been happy with their speed. In talking to the WSJ, he chafed at Microsoft's demand for a consistent hardware and software experience and hinted that he wanted prices to go lower.
The design wasn't completely ruled out, he said, but no plans were in place.
ZTE has built its reputation in the past year on making feature phones and smartphones more accessible to its native China, where lower average incomes and a leaning towards prepaid service have hurt pricier rivals. Its share has been gaining at Apple and Nokia's expense, in large part through cheap Android phones.
The company's tendency to opt for cheap parts will have backfired with Microsoft, however. It demands at least a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, a 480x800 or sharper capacitive touchscreen, 8GB of storage, and at least a five-megapixel camera. ZTE phones like the Skate we tested often deliberately undercut these specs to lower the price, even if it means poor frame rates or otherwise hurts the experience.
The company is still early in its days as a truly independent phone maker. Like HTC, it previously thrived almost exclusively on phones rebadged for someone else. Just this past year, it was selling devices like the Orange San Francisco that made no superficial mention of ZTE. Phones like the Skate are an attempt to establish ZTE as its own brand and give it greater clout for making phone deals.