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ZTE's expands Windows Phone family with low-end smartphone

Orbit is ZTE's contribution to Microsoft's campaign to lower the cost of Windows Phone smartphones

ZTE continues to push Windows Phone with the launch of the Orbit, a cheaper phone that aims to expand the market for Microsoft's smartphone OS.

So far, Microsoft and its partners haven't been able to sell large volumes of smartphones based on the OS, but the arrival of a generation of new products, including the ZTE Orbit, aims to change that. See all MWC News.

"The plan is simple: bring Windows Phone to lower price points to increase sales," said Francisco Jeronimo, research manager at IDC.

The smartphone has a 4.0-inch screen with a resolution of 800 by 480 pixels, and a 5-megapixel camera. It has 4GB of storage and 512MB of RAM, and is powered by a 1GHz processor from Qualcomm.

ZTE didn't announce its price, but the company has made a name for itself by producing low-cost smartphones. The smartphone will start shipping in the second quarter.

At the low end of the market, the Orbit will have to compete with Nokia's Lumia 610, which has 3.7-inch screen with a resolution of 800 by 480 pixels. The 610 has more storage capacity, at 8GB, but it only has 256MB of RAM, according to a Nokia data sheet.

Microsoft is also making changes to the Windows Phone operating system to allow it to run on cheaper smartphones with 256MB of RAM.

The Nokia 610 will cost €189 (US$250) without subsidies and will also begin shipping during the second quarter. The price is more aggressive than expected, according to Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight.

Global shipments of smartphones running Windows Phone in the fourth quarter grew 36 percent compared to the previous quarter, to reach 2.7 million units (including 900,000 from Nokia), Strategy Analytics said last week.

In comparison, Apple sold 37 million iPhones to become the biggest smartphone vendor in the world during the fourth quarter, Strategy Analytics said.

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