ZTE this week unveiled its latest smartphone, the Grand Memo, as it seeks to compete with the big boys at the high end of the devices market. However, while it waxed lyrical about the capabilities of the device itself, the Chinese vendor had only scant details on where and when it will bring it to market.

″ZTE still has a long way to go,″ despite having shipped 65 million mobile devices last year, double its 2011 figure, and growing smartphone revenues to 70% of total handset revenues, said He Shiyou, head of ZTE's mobile devices division, on Monday.

″We still have a gap compared to tier-one OEMs like Apple and Samsung,″ he said.

In order to bridge that gap it has identified a number of key focus areas, including working on bringing out high-end smartphones and developing its brand, He said as he presented the Grand Memo to the assembled media at Mobile World Congress.

″It is one of the best designed of ZTE's smartphones,″ he noted.

The LTE-capable 5.7-inch Grand Memo features a 13-megapixel camera, Dolby Digital Plus sound, a 3200mAh battery and 1080 HD video playback, amongst other things. It is based on the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system and runs on Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 800 processor.

The handset will be launched this year, ZTE said, but has yet to detail a rollout plan.

It will come to market first in China, then the company will look at the U.S. and Europe, explained Ying Xue, terminal director for the Telefonica global account at ZTE.

″In the third quarter of this year we will possibly have a plan to launch in Europe,″ she said.

Ying was at the event to present the ZTE Open, which will become the first smartphone to use the new Firefox operating system when it launches through Telefonica in Spain, Venezuela and Colombia this summer.

″It's ideal for young people,″ who want to experience the latest technology but have limited budgets, she said.

″We want to give more options to consumers,″ who to date haven't had the funds for a smartphone, agreed Carlos Fernandez Casares, director of devices at Telefonica, pointing out that in the Latin American markets in which Telefonica is present, fewer than 18% of mobile users have smartphones.

The company has yet to announce pricing plans for the device though.

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