PC maker Lenovo on Jan. 5 introduced its LePhone smartphone, expected to launch in China in the first half of 2010.
LePhone runs Google's Android operating system, has Qualcomm's Snapdragon chip set, packs in WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access)-based 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS connectivity, and has a particularly slim frame: just 12 millimeters, or 0.47 inches.
The display is quite large-3.7 inches, with a resolution of 800 by 400 pixels-and includes gesture-based navigation. In all, it's an oblong slab of a phone. Phone Scoop reported Jan. 6 that a 3-megapixel camera, a 3.5-mm audio jack and integrated Twitter and Facebook applications are all on board.
"Lenovo has made phones for Asian markets before; they just haven't been as well publicized or as competitive," Avi Greengart, an analyst with Current Analysis, told eWEEK. "What they launched yesterday has many of the same high-end features as Google's Nexus One by HTC. It's a bit thicker but still feels good in your hand, as it is nicely rounded."
The Nexus One is 11.5-mm thin. The iPhone, to compare, is 12.3 mm, and the Motorola Droid is 13.7 mm.
In November, PC maker Dell also announced it had joined the smartphone space, with the introduction of the Mini 3, a touch-screen phone also running the Android OS. The Mini 3 debuted on the China Mobile network before heading to Brazil's Claro.
"The difference between Dell's announcement and [Lenovo's] is that Dell was able to secure U.S. carrier distribution; the Lenovo phone is still aimed at China," Greengart said.
On Jan. 6, AT&T announced that it would bring the Mini 3 to the United States in the first half of 2010 and that the offering would be exclusive.
Analysts have called Dell's success in the smartphone space a "matter of managing expectations."
The same appears to apply to Lenovo. Rory Read, Lenovo president and chief operating officer, told Reuters, "Smartphones are just emerging in China, so we have an opportunity to very quickly gain share and grow very rapidly."
Hewlett-Packard is the leading holder of global PC market share, followed by Acer and, very close behind it, Dell, and then Lenovo. The move to fourth place is a significant one for Lenovo, which ranked eighth in 2003.