Phones 4u to launch own-brand handsets in 2013, possibly with ZTE

It has been revealed that Phones 4u is planning to launch its own brand of handsets in 2013, which may be built by ZTE.

An interview with John Whittle, commercial director, and Scott Hooton, chief commercial officer, at Phones 4u published in Mobile World, ZTE’s in-house bi-monthly magazine, provides the details.

When the Phones 4u pair were asked if they had considered launching own-brand phones, Hooton is quoted as saying: "We are planning it. Probably halfway through 2013."

"We may do that in conjunction with ZTE," Whittle then adds, suggesting that the details aren't finalised.

Own-brand handsets are nothing new. Mobile networks in the UK have a history of offering OEM hardware at cheaper prices than conventionally branded devices, such as the Orange San Francisco II, a rebadged version of the ZTE Blade II.

In many cases, it’s ZTE or Huawei - another potential partner - behind such devices. A few years ago, HTC was also manufacturing a lot of OEM hardware, such as the O2 XDA Orbit, before successfully launching under its own brand.

Phones 4u also announced recently that it was lining-up to launch Life Mobile, its own virtual mobile network (known as an MVNO) running on EE, promising attractive prices, as well as 4G later in 2013, which would make an ideal pairing for affordable own-brand handsets from ZTE.

The interview was published in December 2012, but thanks to Ben Wood who spotted it and shared on Twitter. We'll be sure to bring you all the details of any new launches from Phones 4u.