Cheng Lixin, ZTE's president for North America, said that the company plans to launch high-end smartphones for the U.S. in 2012.

Previously, ZTE was best known for making low-end phones and for being a broadband integrator. The announcement marks its entry into the high-end phone market, where it will face competition from smartphone giants like Apple, HTC, and Samsung.

Cheng believes it is a rare opportunity for ZTE to enter the U.S. high-end phone market. The company expects the U.S. to become its largest consumer market by 2015.

Though Cheng did not disclose many details about the new smartphones, the company's new products may use the Android and Windows phone operating systems based on its existing product line. For pricing, he said with similar features as iPhone, their new products will be more affordable. He also revealed the company is talking with the four major carriers in the U.S. about the phones.

During the third quarter of 2011, ZTE's phone sales in the U.S. achieved a year-on-year increase of 157%, showing strong growth momentum, said Cheng.

ZTE already has a presence in the U.S. market, but they only released phones of the lower-end variety, and are available on pre-paid networks, like Boost Mobile, MetroPCS and Cricket Wireless. AT&T is the only major national network that carriers ZTE handsets.

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