ZTE breaks into global smartphone elite on back of spectacular 300% growth

Chinese telecoms firm ZTE has broken into the global top five of smartphone providers for the first time, with the company's market share now a mere 0.5 per cent behind Taiwanese competitor HTC and just 1.4 per cent shy of Nokia.

ZTE enjoyed year-on-year growth of a whopping 300 per cent as it continues to satisfy smartphone demand in its native country with a range of affordable entry-level devices, as well as offering higher-end mobiles for the country's burgeoning leisure class.

"ZTE's great smartphone performance in 2012 in international markets has been a major contributor to our consistent expansion, and is a demonstration of the depth and strength of our R & D," said He Shiyou, ZTE's European Vice President.

"We have moved into the middle to high-end smartphone market with the recent launch of the ZTE Grand X in countries including China, Turkey and the UK, and we will continue to build our handset capabilities in the middle and high range sectors, while still delivering great lower-end smartphones like the ZTE Kis," Mr Shiyou added.

Can ZTE continue to grow in such a mind blowing manner? The company said it one more big launch planned for 2012, the ultra-thin quad-core Grand Era smartphone, while IDC ventured that the vendor had firmly established itself on its home turf and in emerging Latin American markets.

Its future growth, however, depends much on improving brand recognition in more established markets, with the data studying noting that "brand equity may prove to be an issue for ZTE in future." The Chinese company is still found in the "other" category in the US, despite posting a solid performance there as well.

Samsung is the global smartphone leader as expected, boasting a 32.6 per cent market share on the back of more than 50 million unit shipments in Q2 2012, according to recent data from global ICT market research firm IDC.

The Korean tech titan enjoyed impressive year-over-year growth of some 172 per cent as it reaped the rewards of its hugely successful Galaxy S3 mobile, cementing its market lead over bitter rival Apple in the process. The US company's growth was limited to a disappointing 27.5 per cent in Q2 2012, something boss Tim Cook blamed on fickle fan boys waiting for the iPhone 5 to arrive this autumn.

"Samsung and Apple have quickly become the global smartphone heavyweights though both employ somewhat different approaches to the market," said Kevin Restivo, a senior research analyst with IDC.