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Chinese automaker Geely launches a high-end smartphone business – CNBC

Logo of Chinese automaker Geely Auto.

Zhang Peng | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China — Chinese automaker Geely Holding is jumping into the smartphone business after its founder set up a new company.

Hubei Xingji Shidai Technology Co. Ltd, founded by Eric Li, signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Wuhan Economic and and Technological Development Zone, to make mobile phones, according to Geely.

The company will be headquartered in Wuhan and will focus on “integrating global technologies and resources to develop premium smart devices including smart phones to global consumers,” Geely said in a press release.

Geely’s entry into smartphones highlights the automaker’s drive to tap into new areas which has seen the company venture into satellites and flying cars.

China’s smartphone shipments declined 17% year-on-year in the second quarter of this year, according to research firm Canalys. Globally, shipments grew more than 13%, IDC data shows.

As Huawei’s market share declined due to U.S. sanctions, Chinese rivals like Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo looked to snap up customers.

Geely is entering a cut-throat market and could face off against the likes of Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi in the premium smartphone category.

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The company has not given details about the branding of the phones or when they might launch but said that smartphones complement its automobile business.

Li said mobile phones and devices can act “as a pathway to greater automotive applications.”

“There is a close connection in technologies within intelligent vehicle cockpits and smartphone software technologies. The major trend in the coming future is to create user ecosystems across borders and provide users with a more convenient, smarter, and seamlessly connected multi-screen experiences,” he added.