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Asian mobile giants go ultra fast in race for smartphone pie
by Staff Writers
Barcelona, Spain (AFP) Feb 26, 2012

Asian mobile telecom giants Huawei and LG on Sunday launched a new generation of ultra rapid smartphones, in a race to catch up with market leaders Apple and Samsung.

China's Huawei touted its new Ascend D as the "world's fastest smartphone", as it boasts a quad core processor, double that of other smartphones which are using dual core at the moment, making them at least twice as rapid.

"We are proud to ... introduce a world first at the 2012 Mobile World Congress with the Ascend D quad, the fastest smartphone," said Richard Yu, Huawei Device chairman, on the eve of the industry's biggest fair in Barcelona.

"We've listened to people's top demands from smartphones: speed, long battery life, high quality visual and audio capabilities and a compact lightweight handset," said Yu, saying that the phone met those requirements.

The new handset marks a major push by the Chinese maker to market its brand in the high-end smartphone market.

Previously better known for devices targetting the low-end market, the group is now in the process of transforming its target market.

"The advent of the smartphone has changed the industry significantly. Five years ago, if you say that you're using an Apple phone, that's hard to imagine," Huawei Device's chief marketing officer Shao Yang told AFP.

"Two years ago, Samsung phones were not as successful as they are now. But through its Galaxy series, it has satisfied consumers' demand," he said.

He noted that while the regular mobile phone's market had been fully exploited, there was a large market opportunity for the smartphone.

"With the transformation of the smartphone market, we see an opportunity," he said.

World wide smartphone sales grew 53.5 percent in 2011, and made up 34 percent of all mobile handsets sold in the year, said Informa Telecoms and Media research agency.

It estimated that over a billion people would own a smartphone by 2013.

LG, the world's third biggest mobile phone maker, also sought to get a firmer grip on the smartphone market with a new quad core phone, the Optimus 4xHD.

But beyond a speedy phone, the South Korean giant also previewed a "tabletphone".

With a touch screen of five inches, the Optimus Vu is sized as "a product that is in between" a phone and a tablet", said Daniel Hernandez, the group's marketing director for Europe.

The phone, which is now available in the home Korean market, will arrive in Europe in the last three months of 2012, he added.

LG is not the first to move towards bigger smartphone screens. Fellow South Korean Samsung in October launched the Galaxy Note, which also has the same intermediate format.

"We think there is a market, because it's a product that replaces the tablet and the smartphone at the same time," said Hernandez.

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