Chinese electronics major Lenovo is all set to reveal another online-only smartphone brand - ZUK - that will run Android-forked Cyanogen OS, also used by Micromax subsidiary YU.
Android-forking is the process in which developers take a copy of source code from one software package (in this case Android) and start independent development on it, creating a distinct and separate piece of software.
With the launch of the new brand in the second week of May, which the company will call ‘ZUK-powered by Lenovo’, the company will have three range of smartphones in the country directed at different sets of consumers enabling it cover the entire spectrum of the market.
“The ZUK brand of products are specalised devices which will focus on consumers who are tech-saavy, hooked onto the Internet and wants to do more or experiment with their devices,” Anuj Sharma, head of product marketing at Lenovo India, said while explaining the sets of consumers for all the other sub-brands.
While Lenovo devices will continue to woo the mass market, Moto or erstwhile Motorola will focus on consumers who want newer technologies faster than any other in the market, Sharma explained adding that Lenovo will sell the Z1 smartphone under the ZUK brand.
Z1 was first launched in China in late September and was then moved to the international markets in December last year. The phone runs a separate user interface or operating system called ZUI in other markets and has specific features like the ‘pseudo keypad’ which Indian users will miss.
“We deceided to go with Cyanogen in India and hence the phone launch in India will be late as we were optimising the hardware with the software,” Sharma said adding that Z1’s Cyanogen performance will be better than in rival YU’s smartphones. The Z1 will come with Cyanogen 12.1 while the latest Cyanogen 13 will hit markets in mid-June.
“Users will have the option of updating to the latest nightly edition but we are going with 12.1 to maintain consistent performance in the device,” Sharma explained adding that the device will allow users to root the device without hurting the warranty clause.
Other hardware specifications of the device will include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 with Adreno 330 GPU, 3GB DDR3 RAM, 64 GB internal storage, dual-SIM with 4G-LTE support, 360-degree fingerprint reader with wet-finger support, 13-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilisation, USB-Type C charger and 5.5-inch display with 450 nits of brightness.
“We planned to go with the 801 chipset as it is one of the best mid-range processors now after 820 SoC has made it to the market. We also have included a cut-battery of 4,100 mAh for allowing longer usage of the device,” Sharma said justifying the specifications. He added that ZUK Z1, which is expected to be priced around Rs. 16,000, has tried to adress all the main concerns of the present day user which includes cutting down heating issues and allow longer usage of the device.
Currently, Micromax’s YU brand uses the Cyanogen OS. Back in 2014 Cyanogen had announced an exclusive partnership with Micromax that led OnePlus to remove the Cyanogen OS branding from its OnePlus One smartphones just ahead of the India launch. Cyanogen last year parted ways with OnePlus after several months of rough weather in their relationship, and the Chinese OEM has since been releasing smartphones with its own custom ROM - OxygenOS.
Lenovo’s ZUK team was formed in 2014 in China and is expected to soon release another device for China called the Z2 Pro which may not make it to other markets.