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

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