Lenovo joins 64-bit Android smartphone parade with Vibe Z2

The 5.5-inch Vibe Z2 will first ship in China this month

Lenovo's Vibe X2 (1)

Lenovo's Vibe X2 (1)

Lenovo will ship a 64-bit Android smartphone, the Vibe Z2, later this month in China, rolling it out to other regions in October.

Lenovo joins HTC, which announced the Desire 510 last week, and Apple in offering a 64-bit smartphone, with more handset makers expected to follow in the coming months. The Vibe Z2 and Vibe X2, which are part of Lenovo's flagship handset line, were announced this week at the IFA trade show in Berlin.

The Vibe Z2 has a 5.5-inch screen, weighs 155 grams and is 7 millimeters thick, making it one of the company's thinnest handsets, said Keith Liu, director of smartphone marketing in Lenovo's mobile business group. It has a Qualcomm 64-bit Snapdragon quad-core processor.

"It is ready for the 64-bit compatible Android OS when it launches later in the year," Liu said of the Vibe Z2.

Google has released a preview edition of Android L, a 64-bit OS compatible with ARM's ARMv8 processor architecture. The benefits of 64-bit chips in mobile devices include faster video encoding and decoding, data encryption and decryption, and compression and decompression.

The LTE-compatible Vibe Z2 will be priced starting at US$429. It will first ship in China in late September and other regions in October. Lenovo has not previously sold smartphones in the U.S. and did not say whether the Vibe Z2 would be available in the country.

"At this point, we are still weighing our options about what smartphones we will sell in the U.S. market and when," Liu said in an email.

The Vibe Z2's other features include up to 32GB of storage, 2GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front camera. The smartphone has software features so that self-shot pictures of individuals, also called "selfies," turn out better.

The smartphone will be able to recognize gestures like a "V" sign or smile, and activate the camera shutter to take a photograph. The handset will also recognize blinking eyes and hold on a few seconds before taking a picture. Users will also be able to time the camera to wait for a few seconds before taking a selfie.

"We've mastered the art of the selfie with the [front] camera," Liu said.

Lenovo also announced the speedy Vibe X2 smartphone, which has a 5-inch screen and an 8-core, 32-bit processor from MediaTek.

The smartphone weighs 20 grams and is 7.27 millimeters thick. It has a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera.

The handset is LTE compatible and will be available this month for $399. It will first ship in China and then in other regions in October.

Lenovo was the world's fourth-largest smartphone maker behind Samsung, Apple and Huawei during the second quarter, according to Strategy Analytics.

The Chinese company is on track to complete its $2.91 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility acquisition later this year, which will make it the world's third-largest smartphone vendor, Liu said.

While Lenovo doesn't compete in the U.S., it is picking up market share in emerging countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and its home country of China, where smartphone shipments are booming, according to IDC.

Lenovo is mostly a presence in China, but wants to expand in international markets much like it did with PCs and more recently with servers, said Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates.

"Motorola Mobility gives them one piece of the pie. Lenovo wants to be a world-class provider of all things compute," Gold said.

Motorola Mobility has strong distribution channels and the 64-bit Vibe Z2 gives it a "halo" product comparable to high-end handsets from Apple and other major smartphone vendors.

"You've got to have some good hardware out there [to compete]," Gold said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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