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Three Asus ZenFone models hit Taiwan stores on Tuesday

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Asustek (華碩電腦) today will launch a trio of the Intel-powered ZenFone 4-6 in Taipei, although the target market will be China and the direct competitor will be mainland-based rising smartphone star Xiaomi Technology.

According to local reports, high-ranking executives of Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信), Taiwan Mobile (台灣大哥大) and Far EasTone (遠傳) will appear at the product launch for ZenFones, showing support for the personal computer maker.

Pricing for the local market has yet not been revealed.

Unveiled in January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Asustek's three new ZenFone models start at just US$99 and come in screen sizes of 4-6 inches to target mainstream buyers.

The Zenfone 4 was announced at US$99 for a 4-inch display and an Intel Atom Z2520 1.2GHz dual-core processor, while the ZenFone 5 will go for US$149 for its 5-inch IPS panel with a resolution of 1280x720, a dual-core processor and an 8-megapixel camera.

The relatively higher-end ZenFone 6 starts at US$199 and sports an advanced 6-inch touch screen and 13-megapixel camera, the company announced.

Despite the affordable cost of its new models, smartphones look likely to remain a drag on Asustek's business this year as the PC vendor struggles to reach its break-even shipment scale of 5 million units amid fierce competition, according to a recent report by CLSA Ltd.

The Hong Kong-based brokerage forecast Asustek will ship 3 million smartphones in 2014 with lingering losses and an operating margin of minus 7 percent. It gave the stock an “outperform” rating and set a price target of NT$324.

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