Lenovo could be the Android smartphone maker to watch, as it moves closer to finalizing its purchase of Motorola Mobility from Google by year's end and keeps pounding out new smartphone designs with cutting-edge technology.
On Thursday, Lenovo unveiled two smartphones at IFA in Germany. The Vibe X2 and Vibe Z2 will be sold first in China in October, then in many other countries outside of North America. The X2, unlocked, will sell for $399; the Z2, unlocked, goes for $429.
Separately on Thursday, Motorola is holding an event in Chicago where it is expected to unveil its next Moto G smartphone, the new Moto X+1, and the Moto 360 round-faced smartwatch.
The China-first strategy for the Lenovo phones will build on the company's ranking as the top smartphone seller in China. Lenovo already sells more smartphones than it sells PCs, which is saying something: Lenovo has been the world's top seller for PCs for 21 quarters in a row.
Even though the X2 and Z2 may never be sold directly in the U.S., Lenovo is clearly expecting Motorola smartphones to give Lenovo success in the states. Lenovo would not discuss plans for U.S. smartphone sales in a recent interview, but did say it expects to close the $2.91 billion Motorola acquisition by the end of 2014.
Lenovo is currently the No. 4 smartphone supplier globally, with 5.2% of the market, according to Strategy Analytics. Samsung is the biggest with 25%, followed by Apple with nearly 12% and China's Huawei with 6.8%. Behind Lenovo, another Chinese manufacturer, Xiaomi, ranks No. 5, with 5.1% of the market.
The X2 and Z2 smartphones seem to have plenty to offer, even if they aren't coming to the U.S. The X2, with a 5-in. display, uses a new Media TEK LTE-capable True8Core processor, making it the first smartphone to do so. It comes with a 5-megapixel front camera and a 13-megapixel rear camera.
The Z2 has a 5.5-in. display with 1280 x 720-pixel resolution. It is also Lenovo's first 64-bit smartphone, powered with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 64-bit quad core 1.4GHz processor. Both new smartphones ship with Android 4.4 KitKat, but the Z2 will be able to take advantage of Android L and future versions that support high-performance 64-bit computing. The Z2 also has a powerful 3,000 mAh battery and a 13-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front camera.
Both phones will support LTE speeds.
Lenovo also announced a ThinkPad Helix 2-in-1 Ultrabook with an 11.6-in. display. It can function as a tablet or a laptop, among other configurations, and weighs just 1.8 pounds. It runs Windows 8.1 Pro and an Intel Core M processor. There's also a fingerprint reader and a smart card reader to serve business users. Models will start at $999 and be available in October.
This story, "Lenovo Preps for Smartphone Growth With Two New Handsets" was originally published by Computerworld.