Chinese smartphone manufacturer ZTE endured arguably its toughest year yet in 2018, having spent the majority of it crippled by severe sanctions issued by the United States Department of Commerce.
While the company ultimately managed to evade even more serious repercussions through a complicated combination of lobbying interlaced with cooperation with a number of federal agencies, it soon found itself surrounded by even more hostilities as Congress deemed it a national security threat, having specifically named it alongside Huawei as a company that can't do business with the stateside government moving forward, not even by association.
Things were looking grim, especially after its state-controlled majority-owner decided to pull the plug on its ZTE episode several months back. However, seemingly against all odds, ZTE managed to mount a comeback for the ages and by some stroke of luck, incredible managerial skill, or both, the worst now appears to be behind it.
Moving forward, ZTE may not be able to count on any significant opportunities in the U.S. wireless segment, though the diversified nature of its business model allows it to compensate for that problem to a degree. The Shenzen-based firm is hence now placing a larger focus on its consumer electronics unit, particularly the market segment that suffered the most during its phase of corporate crippleness - Android flagships dependent on heavy and consistent R&D investments.
Cue the Axon 10 Pro 5G, an incoming variant of the recently launched phablet designed to communicate with the next generation of wireless networks. Not just those powered by ZTE-made infrastructure, mind you; the whole beauty of the 3GPP's existence and the very concept of standardization is that virtually any network built in accordance with the comprehensive Release 15 specification authored by the consortium will be capable of supporting ZTE's newest premium device.
Both the Axon 10 Pro and its 5G-ready model were announced at the 2019 iteration of Mobile World Congress in late February as ZTE used the industry's largest trade show in Barcelona to signal it's far from being done with the mobile market. However, up until now, the ultimate edition of the handset was without a release window more precise than "first half of the year." ZTE now clarified on that timing to confirm it's indeed targeting the very end of that period, announcing that the Axon 10 Pro 5G will be hitting the store shelves in June.
Germany will be either the first country to receive it or part of its initial rollout wave, though it's still unclear how wide of a market is ZTE targeting. In other words, the company has yet to indicate whether it intends to launch its first consumer-grade, mass-produced Android smartphone in the United States. Following this week's executive order signed by President Trump that forbids all American companies from collaborating with firms officially labeled as national security threats, it's uncertain if ZTE would be able to legally organize an Axon 10 Pro 5G launch even if it wanted to.
As for Europe, the handset is set to launch at a starting price of €599 ($668), whereas the 5G-enabled model that also doubles the amount of the former's storage space to 256GB is set to carry a recommended price tag of €899, i.e. just over $1,000.