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Lenovo Adds Premium Smartphone in Challenge to Samsung, Apple

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Sept. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Lenovo Group Ltd., the biggest maker of personal computers, is adding a “premium” device to its smartphone lineup as it broadens its challenge to market leaders Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc.

The Vibe X smartphone with 5-inch (12.7-centimeter) display running Google Inc.’s Android 4.2 system will go on sale in China next month, with international sales to start in December, the company said in a statement ahead of a press conference at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin today.

Lenovo, which rose to become the second-largest smartphone vendor in China and the fourth-largest globally with a range of inexpensive handsets, now plans to move up the value chain with devices that can pose a more direct threat to Samsung’s Galaxy S4 or Apple’s iPhone. Lenovo in May released its flagship K900. The Vibe X expands that “premium smartphone portfolio,” the company said in the statement.

The iPhone 5 ranges from 5,288 yuan ($864) to 6,888 yuan in China, as much as double the price of Lenovo’s K900 IdeaPhone at 3,299 yuan. Today’s statement didn’t provide a price for the Vibe X.

The Vibe X runs on a MediaTek Inc. 1.5 gigahertz, quad-core processor, and its high-definition display uses Gorilla Glass 3 from Corning Inc., Lenovo said in the statement. The device is “as thin as a pencil” at 6.9 millimeters, and weighs about as much as five AA batteries at 121 grams, Lenovo said.

Top Five

The top five global smartphone vendors in the second quarter by International Data Corp.’s ranking were: Samsung with a 30.4 percent market share; Apple with 13.1 percent; LG Electronics Inc. with 5.1 percent; Lenovo with 4.7 percent and ZTE Corp. with 4.2 percent.

The Vibe X will be sold in markets where Lenovo’s handsets are currently available, and so it won’t be on sale in Europe, the company said in the statement. Besides China, Lenovo now sells devices in India, Indonesia, Russia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.

In China, Lenovo’s 12 percent of the smartphone market trails only Samsung’s 18 percent, research firm Canalys said last month. Lenovo plans to surpass Samsung for smartphone sales in the China market within two years, partly by opening a chain of company-owned retail stores where customers can experience the devices, Chen Xudong, Lenovo’s president of China operations, said in an interview last month

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Edmond Lococo in Beijing at elococo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net

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