The so far China-only smash hit intends to cater to Western geeks in around two months, running a highly customizable iteration of Android-based CyanogenMod.
Building a new smartphone brand from scratch, and keeping its business limited to the web, doesn’t exactly fit with recent Lenovo restructuring actions meant to cut costs and improve the company’s profitability across the numerous industry segments it’s currently involved in.
Yet “startup” ZUK could be exactly what the doctor prescribed for Lenovo’s struggling mobile department. Forget “high-profile” Motorolas, the Z1 racked up over 2 million pre-orders in China in just one week with minimal marketing and virtually no history of brand awareness. How could there be any when the subsidiary was barely established in May 2015?
Realizing the value of striking while the iron is hot, the world leader in PC sales ordered the immediate expansion of the ZUK Z1. Still, it takes time to secure distribution, even online, and crank up mass manufacturing, so the 5.5 incher will see daylight in as-yet unannounced international markets around mid-October.
That’s not so bad, and fans of Android personalization should rejoice upon hearing they’ll be treated to Cyanogen OS 12.1 software outside of China. As if the similarities between ZUK and OnePlus weren’t profuse already.
Of course, the OnePlus 2 starts at $329 in a 16GB configuration, whereas the ZUK Z1 is priced at the Yuan equivalent of $280 with 64 hefty gigs of internal storage space. Also, Lenovo’s daughter outfit somehow managed to shave a millimeter off the 2’s profile while boosting the battery capacity to 4,100 mAh. And the selfie camera provides an impressive 8 megapixel sensor.
On the not so bright side for ZUK, its first ever flagship packs a dated quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor. But the 3 GB RAM, fingerprint recognition technology, reversible USB Type-C connector and even the 13 MP dual-LED flash rear cam are top-of-the-line. So yeah, if it goes on sale stateside at sub-$300, jump on it as soon as you can.