Meet the Chinese smartphones

February 13, 2013: 9:00 AM ET

China is the world's largest mobile market. Now its manufacturers want a piece of America's consumers.

By Kurt Wagner, reporter

130212171024-huawei-w1-phone-340xaFORTUNE -- It's no secret that China is a hotbed for mobile growth, particularly when it comes to smartphones. In fact, China is currently the top smartphone market in the world, accounting for 26.5% of all smartphone shipments last year, according to IDC. Not surprisingly, the country is home to a number of up-and-coming phone makers, energized by enormous mobile growth. Three of the world's top five smartphone manufacturers -- Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo -- are from China, according to research from Canalys. The question is, can Chinese smartphone success translate to the U.S.?

Korean phone maker Samsung is proving Asian suppliers can find the U.S. profitable. Samsung's Galaxy S III is successfully fighting Apple's (AAPL) iPhone for market share both domestically and abroad. (The S III outsold iPhones globally for the first time in the third quarter of 2012.) Plus, the company's clever advertising campaign mocking those waiting in long lines for the iPhone has proven that Apple's hold on American consumers isn't unassailable.

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If the most recent CES conference was any indication, Samsung will be joined shortly by numerous Chinese competitors. Huawei, ZTE and TCL, another Chinese phone maker, have all announced plans to bring phones to U.S. markets in 2013. (ZTE is keeping its product lineup a mystery, according to a company spokesman.) Lenovo is the only member of the group which said that it would not be bringing a smartphone to the U.S. this year. So what can we expect from such devices? Here's a closer look:

Phone: Huawei W1
Maker: Huawei (pronounced WAH-way)
Release Date: 2013

The Huawei W1 is the company's first Microsoft (MSFT) Windows 8 smartphone, and while the phone made an appearance at CES, the release date and available carriers are still under wraps. The phone is not remarkably slim compared to competitors (nearly 10.2 mm), but it does come in a variety of colors and boasts a whopping 470 hours -- that's nearly 20 days -- of 3G standby time. Other key stats: 4-inch touch screen; 5.0 megapixel rear-facing camera; 0.3 megapixel front-facing camera; 720P video recording.

Phone: ONE TOUCH Idol Ultra
Maker: TCL Communication
Release Date: 2013

TCL makes Alcatel (ALU) ONE TOUCH devices that have already been in the U.S. market for years, but its 2013 smartphone lineup boasts four new devices: the ScribeHD, Idol Ultra, Idol, and M'Pop. The Idol Ultra is pegged by TCL as the "slimmest smartphone yet," coming in at 6.45 mm thick. (By comparison, the iPhone 5 is 7.6 mm thick.) The Ultra Idol will also be operating on a Google (GOOG) Android OS. Other key stats: 4.7-inch HD display; 8.0 megapixel rear-facing camera; 1080P video recording.

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