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Salute is a Verizon-ZTE first

ZTE reveals the Salute from Verizon as its first U.S. cell phone with a top-tier carrier. The Chinese company also shares its ambitions for growth.

ZTE Salute
ZTE's first phone with a top-tier carrier--ever.

It's been confirmed that for the first time, Verizon Wireless is teaming up on a cell phone with China-based mobile device manufacturer ZTE. The debutant in question is the ZTE Salute, which we first heard about on Friday, and which is indeed being billed as an entry-level, easy-to-use vertical slider phone. It features a 2.4-inch QVGA (240x320 pixels) screen, a 1.3-megapixel camera, voice commands, and speakerphone. It also handles text, picture, and voice messages, and is Bluetooth-compatible.

The Salute includes a variety of Verizon services, including VZ Navigator with turn-by-turn directions, the Bing search app, social-networking tools through Social Beat, a family locator tool, and a backup assistant. The Salute weighs 3.95 ounces and has a rated battery life of 240 minutes of talk time and nine days of standby time.

The ZTE Salute is already available from online retailer It will also available on Verizon's Web site and in select Verizon retail stores for $19.99. If the phone's reception goes over well, we might even see Verizon offer the Salute in more stores.

The Salute isn't just ZTE's first phone with Verizon; it's ZTE's first cell phone with any top-tier U.S. carrier. The device manufacturer, which has offered handsets for MetroPCS, certainly has its sights set on further expanding into the U.S. market and making deals with other top-tier carriers. To that end, ZTE is beginning to hire locally, and is expanding its research and development in the U.S., Jeff Ji, executive vice president at ZTE USA, told CNET. ZTE earned about $8.8 billion globally last year, Ji said.