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Lenovo-backed Zuk isn’t messing around, launches the Cyanogen-powered Z1 in Europe

You may not have heard of smartphone startup Zuk, but you’ll almost certainly heard of one of the company’s that’s backing it — Lenovo. Publicly revealed at the end of June, Zuk’s first phone — named the Z1 — was teased with talk of cool specs, a sleek design, and a low price. On August 11, the phone was officially revealed at a launch event in Beijing, where it was confirmed there will be two versions of the Z1, and the good news is, one will be sold internationally.

Updated on 10-13-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in news the Z1 is on sale through Amazon

On sale in Europe with Cyanogen installed

Unlike many of its Chinese competitors, Zuk is quickly making a play to grab a share of international smartphone sales, and just a month after its release in China, it has gone on sale in Europe through both eBay and Amazon. On the outside, the phones are identical, but there’s a big difference between the two when it comes to the software.

Zuk has chosen Android 5.1.1 with its own ZUI skin for the edition sold in China, where it retails for 1800 yuan, which is around $280. However, the good news is Zuk has promised its operating system will be updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow before March 2016. The phone is sold through an Apple Store-like online store, which you can visit here.

The global version uses Cyanogen OS 12.1 — the Android-based, Google-free operating system initially preferred by OnePlus — onboard, and it’s now for sale through Amazon in Europe. In the UK, the phone costs £280 (about $340), or 300 euros in Spain, Italy, Germany, and France. While Google’s not directly involved with Cyanogen, the international Z1 phone comes with Google Play and other Google services installed.

Metal chassis, and strong specs

The Zuk Z1 may not be the most visually exciting phone on sale, but we like its minimalist simplicity, and applaud the decision to use an aircraft-grade aluminum for the chassis. The rear cover is made from plastic though. It’s sold unlocked, ready for use with any GSM network, and is compatible with a range of 4G bands. A dual-SIM card tray is hidden in the side of the phone.

What about the other specs? The Z1 has a 5.5-inch IPS display with a 1080p resolution, and is powered by a Qualcomm 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB of RAM. It’s not the most recent chip from the company, but Zuk says it’s more power efficient, and of course, there will be no concerns over the Z1 getting a little hot and bothered under strain. Zuk’s not messing around with a feeble amount of internal storage space either, and has squeezed in 64GB for you to fill.

If this is all sounding similar to the OnePlus 2 (aside from the choice of processor), then that feeling of deja-vu will continue. The Z1 has a fingerprint sensor built into the home button below the screen, which can be used to unlock the phone, as a back button, or even activate the shutter when taking selfies. A big 4100mAh battery sounds almost too good to be true, and Zuk has opted for the latest USB Type-C connector to recharge it. Finally, there’s a Sony 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization on the rear, and an 8-megapixel camera above the screen.

We’ll keep you updated with all the Z1 news right here, so check back often.

Next page: Read the rumors leading up to the Zuk Z1’s official announcement

Read all the rumors regarding the Zuk Z1 from before its announcement below

It’s expected to be called the Z1 — no, not that Z1 — and in late July, Zuk CEO Chang Cheng has posted the first picture of the Z1 smartphone, in the form of a render, on his Weibo social network page. It shows the lower half of the device from the rear, and appears to suggest the back will be covered in glass, with a 2.5D curve. The Type-C reversible USB connection — already previously confirmed by the company — is also on display, alongside an Apple’s style speaker grille, and evidence of a metal chassis.

ZUK Z1 Phone TeaserWhat about the phone’s specs? It’s possible CyanogenOS will be one of the standout features. Cyanogen, which until recently was the OS-of-choice for OnePlus, provides an Android experience without Google’s involvement.

It’s not just Lenovo that’s behind Zuk. It’s also being backed by Qihoo 360, a Chinese software company that specializes in mobile security products. The Zuk phone’s website says the OS will have a custom user interface over the top, called ZUI, which could be related to Qihoo’s own Android-based OS that may not end up being used on its QiKU/Coolpad-developed phones.

The website goes on to reveal the phone will have a fingerprint sensor in the home button, will use the new USB Type-C connection, and have a battery with a capacity in excess of 4000mAh. Other possible specs include 3GB of RAM, 64GB of internal memory, and 4G support. Major specs like the screen size, resolution, and processor aren’t known yet, but rumors put them at 5.5-inches, 1440p, and the Snapdragon 810 respectively. The price, also according to rumors, is expected to be the equivalent of $320.

Zuk has announced on its Weibo social networking page that it will hold an event on August 11, where it will likely show the Z1 off for the first time. We’ll keep you update on all the news between now and then, so make sure you check back.

Previous updates:

Updated on 10-13-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in links to the Zuk Z1 store, phone prices, and news of an Android 6.0 update

Updated on 08-14-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in new images of the international Zuk Z1 smartphone, seen above in white

Updated on 07-24-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in the first picture of the Zuk Z1, posted by the company’s CEO.

Updated on 07-24-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in the first picture of the Zuk Z1, posted by the company’s CEO.

Article originally published on 07-20-2015

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Andy Boxall
Senior Mobile Writer
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
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