A Chinese firm known for its crystal-studded handsets launched a phone amid rising competition for high-end users by the country's mobile operators.
Qiao Xing Mobile launched a thin touchscreen in its Veva line of handsets targeted at wealthy, fashion-sensitive "professional women" during a glitzy dinner event. Ultra-thin models in short black dresses pretended to use the new phone as they paraded on a catwalk to thumping dance music at the event. Multiple Chinese celebrities were in the audience.
Qiao Xing did not reveal the handset's price, but its past handsets have sold for between 2,000 yuan (US$293) and 3,000 yuan. It offers one gold-plated handset for almost 5,000 yuan.
Luxury phones account for a minimal portion of China's handset market, but winning over their users is vital for China's mobile carriers as they launch 3G networks, said Ji Wei, an analyst at IDC.
China's three big carriers are heavily subsidizing handset purchases to attract users to 3G. High-end users willing to pay for value-added services will give a carrier needed returns on its investments, Ji said.
The new Qiao Xing handset, which is available with crystal lining, does not support 3G, but the firm said it plans a line of 3G phones.