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ZTE has announced the launch of a new entry-level handset for the UK market, the Blade III. With a 4-inch WVGA screen, Ice Cream Sandwich and a 1GHz processor, it's not what you'd call a cutting-edge smartphone, but ZTE is hoping some cheap and cheerful pricing will help it shift stock on launch partner Virgin Media.

Virgin's Pay As You Go prices start at a very reasonable £79.99, and the Blade III is also offered for free on contracts starting at just £18 per month (or £13 for Virgin Media cable subscribers). The Blade III first went on sale in Nordic territories late last year, priced considerably higher than the asking price on Virgin Media, so Brits looking for an inexpensive handset may want to give it a look over.

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We've got today's press release, along with a full spec sheet, after the break.

ZTE Blade III arrives in the UK to follow up on the Success of its Predecessors

Featuring a 4-inch screen, 5MP camera, expandable memory and Android 4.0, the Blade III brings big value to the big screen experience

6 February 2013, London, UK – ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ), a leading global provider of telecommunications equipment, network solutions, and mobile devices, has launched the ZTE Blade III 4-inch smartphone in the UK.

Promising an even sharper multimedia and gaming experience than its predecessors, the Blade III can be purchased in store or online from Virgin Media from today for £79.99 PAYG* or from £13 a month**.

The latest addition to the successful Blade family, the ZTE Blade III features a larger screen, memory capacity of 2.5GB which can be further expanded with a 32 GB memory card and Android 4.0, providing a smooth user experience at a modest price point.

“We paid close attention to user feedback when designing the Blade III. It is the first smartphone in its price range with a 4-inch touch screen and Android 4.0 and is very well suited for the UK market. We believe that the ZTE Blade III will bring a quality mobile experience to a larger UK audience,” said Kalam Meah, Account Director, ZTE UK.

The expanded storage memory of the Blade III offers extra space for music, apps, pictures and games while the 4-inch WVGA touch screen and upgraded operating system provide a sharp multimedia experience. The 5 megapixel camera with autofocus, and support for video and audio standards including MPEG4 and AAC+ makes it easier and more fun to watch movies, use social networks and listen to music. This, combined with the sleek body and modern design of the phone prove that ZTE is delivering on its promise of better performance for money.

Jamie Heywood, director of mobile at Virgin Media said, “With expandable storage and the most affordable 4 inch screen on the market, the ZTE Blade III offers customers plenty of smartphone bang for their buck. The Blade III is a great addition to our range and when combined with Virgin Media’s ‘Premiere’ tariff which offers unlimited data and calls from just £21 per month, it’s proof that you can go big with your smartphone without breaking the bank.”

ZTE previously partnered with Virgin Media to launch the ZTE Tania Windows Phone and two Android phones: the Grand X and the best selling ZTE Kis (in black and white). The ZTE Blade III has also been launched in key European countries including Germany, Spain, the Nordics and Eastern Europe amongst others. The Blade lll will also be launched in other European countries soon.

Key specifications of the Blade III

-  4 inch WVGA (800x480) 65K TFT capacitive touch screen
-  Weight: 130 gram
-  Size: 120.5 x 63.5 x 10.85mm
-  1GHz Qualcomm MSM 7227 A processor
-  Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
-  Memory: ROM 4 GB, ca 2.5GB accessible to the user, RAM 512 MB
-  Supports Micro SD memory card up to 32 GB 
-  5.0 MP AF camera with 4 x digital zoom
-  Mobile standards: HSDPA (7.2Mbps) /HSPA/HSPA+/UMTS/GSM/GPRS/EDGE
-  Audio standards: MP3, AAC, AAC+, midi, AMR-NB
-  Video standards: MPEG4, H.263, H.264
-  Wireless communications standards: Bluetooth™ 2.1, A2DP1.2, GPS, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
-  Battery capacity: Li-ion1600 mAh
-  FM radio

ZTE is the 4th biggest handset manufacturer in the world according to IDC, a leading provider of global ICT market research and advisory services.

About ZTE

ZTE is a publicly-listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions with the most comprehensive product range covering virtually every telecommunications sector, including wireless, access & bearer, VAS, terminals and professional services. The company delivers innovative, custom-made products and services to over 500 operators in more than 140 countries, helping them to meet the changing needs of their customers while growing revenue. In 2011, ZTE’s revenue increased by 29 per cent to USD13.7 billion. Its overseas operating revenue grew 30 per cent to USD 7.4 billion during the period, accounting for 54.2 per cent of overall operating revenue. ZTE commits 10 per cent of its annual revenue to research and development and has leadership roles in several international bodies devoted to developing telecommunications industry standards. ZTE is committed to corporate social responsibility and is a member of the UN Global Compact. The company is China’s only listed telecom manufacturer that is publicly traded on both the Hong Kong and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ). For more information, please visit