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Verizon Wireless Offers Budget Phone From ZTE

Salute handset marks first-time partnership with the Chinese-based telecom firm.
Verizon Wireless has introduced the Salute from ZTE USA, in its first collaboration with China’s largest telecom manufacturer. The Salute is a lightweight, slim slider handset and is being marketed as a low-budget, easy-to-use phone.

It has a 2.4-inch QVGA (240 x 320 pixels) screen and weighs 3.95 ounces. The Salute’s battery life provides 240 minutes of talk time and it also comes with a 1.3 megapixel camera, voice commands, speakerphone and Bluetooth headset. Other services include text, picture and voice messaging, mobile email, mobile web email and chat and the Bing search engine.

The phone provides a single point for accessing social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, as well as over 50 news, sports and entertainment feeds. The Salute also comes installed with Backup Assistant, an application that saves and updates a copy of the phone’s address book to a secure website; and VZ Navigator, which lets users receive voice turn-by-turn directions.

The Salute is the first handset ZTE USA is selling through a major U.S. carrier, which company executive vice president Jeff Ji said was a significant achievement. ZTE USA has also supplied handsets to MetroPCS Communications, which requires no contracts. The carrier said it is making aggressive strides to move into the U.S. handset market and is working on both CDMA- and GSM-based wireless smartphone devices. ZTE USA is also reportedly in talks with T-Mobile USA and Sprint Nextel Corp.

The phone retails for $19.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate at Verizon Wireless stores and online at www.verizonwireless.com. It is also available for free on Wirefly.com with a new, two-year Verizon Wireless account.

Besides handsets, ZTE also provides other telecommunications equipment and network products in over 140 countries. It had revenues of over $8,820.7 million last year. ZTE was the eighth largest handset vendor in the world in the second quarter, according to ABI Research.

A Verizon Wireless spokeswoman declined to comment on the significance of the ZTE USA partnership, saying, “Our relationship with our vendors we consider confidential.”

ZTE USA was effusive about the partnership. “The Salute is a major milestone in ZTE’s plans to establish its presence in the U.S. It delivers the functionality consumers are demanding in a stylish, affordable, and easy-to use-device,’’ said LiXin Cheng, CEO, ZTE USA, in an email.

“Our partnership with Verizon Wireless is a key to ZTE USA's handset business and we believe ZTE's competitive cost structure, innovation, and continued investment in R&D prepares us to become a major player in the U.S. market," he added.

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