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Lenovo to sell A7000 smartphone online in Asia

The Chinese maker of smartphones and PCs will partner with regional online retailer Lazada to sell its budget A7000 handset through flash sales.

Lenovo's wallet-friendly A7000 is set to hit Asia. Andrew Hoyle/CNET

May 12, 9.15 p.m.: Lenovo has provided an update on the pricing of the A7000 -- it will be S$229, not S$299. The story has been amended accordingly.

May 13, 8.30 p.m.: Lenovo and Lazada have updated that the launch dates are to pre-order the phone, the actual retail availability will take place from May 19 onwards depending on the country. See below for more details.

Lenovo is turning to online flash sales as it pushes its handsets in Southeast Asia, partnering with regional e-tailer Lazada to sell its latest budget phone, the A7000.

The partnership will see Lazada sell the A7000 phones in six countries in the region. Customers in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand will be able to pre-order the phone on May 12, while those living in Vietnam and the Philippines will be able to do so on May 13. While it's not the first time both companies have been working together -- they had previously worked together on a smartphone launch in Indonesia -- it's the first time Lenovo is hitting six Asian markets together with an online third-party retailer.

For actual retail availability, it starts on May 19 for Indonesia, May 20 for Malaysia, May 21 for Thailand and the Philippines and May 22 for both Vietnam and Singapore.

Announced back at Mobile World Congress in March, the Android Lollipop-equipped $169 A7000 packs Dolby Atmos sound and has a 5.5-inch HD screen (that's 1,280x720-pixels), 4G LTE and is powered by an octa-core MediaTek processor. It has a rear 8-megapixel camera and a front 5-megapixel shooter.

Speaking to CNET in an interview, Lenovo's executive director for its smartphone sales division Dillion Ye said Lazada was chosen as it was "number one in the Southeast Asia countries."

"For Lenovo's side of the deal, we can now focus on the innovative offerings, brandings and supply chain, so that we can fulfill orders in a more efficient and effective way," Ye added.

Lenovo's plan to go forward with flash sales mirrors Xiaomi's strategy of selling low cost handsets through online deals with limited stocks. Xiaomi has been very successful with this, climbing to the fifth position last year in global handset shipments. But to succeed, Lenovo will have to be able to turn its customers into fans, a move Xiaomi has credited for its success. Meanwhile, Lenovo, which had acquired Motorola Mobility in October 2014, will need to find ways to work the purchase into its favor. If Lenovo is keen on succeeding in the smartphone market, it may need to leverage the stronger Motorola branding to fuel its climb towards the top.

But Lenovo's online ambitions don't end there. The company will still have offline retail channels -- there are still plans on selling these phones in actual stores in the six Asian countries.

"There's no one else with a similar regional footprint," said Lazada CEO Maximilian Bittner. "If they use us as a one stop shop, we have one way of working across all markets, it makes life for Lenovo much easier." Bittner expects the phone will sell pretty well in Indonesia and Thailand, two huge markets where there's demand for budget devices.

Local pricing and availability for the Lenovo A7000 can be found on Lazada's country-specific sites. In Singapore the phone will sell for S$229 ($171), which is close to the announced price at Mobile World Congress.