ZTE announced today that its next few smartphones will ship running the Google Now Launcher, offering the only out of the box stock Android experience available outside of Google’s own hardware lineup. Starting with the Blade Vec 4G, ZTE’s new handsets will join Nexus and Google Play Edition devices in running a pure version of Android.
The Blade Vec 4G launches in Hong Kong on July 24, and offers a Snapdragon 400 processor, a 5-inch 720 x 1280p display, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and a 2300mAh battery. ZTE doesn’t reveal its plans for other upcoming smartphones, but says it’s working closely with Google.
With every other Android phone-maker offering their own unique take on the mobile OS, selling devices with the unmodified software could actually help ZTE stand out from the pack. It might also mean quicker Android updates in the future similar to Google’s Nexus lineup. At the same time, it’s an easy way for ZTE to save some money it might have otherwise spent developing its own software and apps.
When Android originally launched it was definitely lacking in some key areas, and phone-makers like Samsung were able to step in and improve on the software early on. At this point though, Google offers a fully-formed operating system. Skins on top of Android are becoming more annoying than helpful, and ZTE’s decision may just mark the start of a broader trend in the industry.