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Huawei releases pricing for new smartphone, tablet

Huawei is hoping products with strong feature sets but lower prices will attract consumers

Chinese manufacturer Huawei announced pricing details for an Android smartphone and tablet on Monday, hoping to gain traction in an intensely competitive mobile marketplace with devices that have strong feature sets but are cheaper.

Huawei has long specialized in so-called "white label" devices that carry other companies' brands. But the latest devices -- including its recently launched Blaze smartphone -- will carry Huawei's name, said Mark Mitchinson, Huawei's vice president for the U.K. and Ireland.

Huawei also decided to open a design center in the first quarter of next year in London that will specialize in building products for the European market. Mitchinson said London is the best place to attract top designers.

Huawei's tablet, the MediaPad, runs the Android 3.2 "Honeycomb" operating system. It has a dual-core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm processor and a 7-inch LCD capacitive touchscreen as opposed to its predecessor, the Ideos S7, which had a resistive touchscreen in its first version. The MediaPad's screen has 1080p resolution, and the device weighs 390 grams.

There are two versions of the MediaPad: one that supports Wi-Fi b/g/n and HSDPA+ at 14.4 Mbps, and one that supports just Wi-Fi. Huawei said the battery will last six hours. It has a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel autofocus camera on the back that can record HD video. The device also has an HDMI port. The MediaPad comes with Facebook, Twitter, Let's Golf and Documents To Go preinstalled.

It will be available early next year in the U.K. from retailers and operators. The Wi-Fi version will cost around £275 (US$440) not including VAT (Value-Added Tax), which is 20 percent in the U.K. By comparison, the cheapest Apple iPad is £399 -- including VAT -- for a 16GB, Wi-Fi-only version. Mitchinson said Huawei is still in discussions with operators on which ones will carry the device.

The MediaPad launches with Huawei's Vision smartphone, which will be available from the U.K. retailer Phones 4U by Dec. 25. It is expected to cost about £25 a month with subsidies from operators. Huawei expects to confirm operators early next year.

The Vision runs the Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" operating system and has a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM 8255 processor. It also has a 5-megapixel autofocus camera with an LED flash and takes 720p resolution video. The Vision is Wi-Fi and HSDPA capable. The phone is 9.9 millimeters thick and weighs 121 grams. It will come in three colors: silver, rose-gold and charcoal grey.

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