Chinese manufacturer Meizu, which had to halt production of the (in)famous M8 iPhone clone back in October, isn't giving up the fight to become China's favorite homegrown smartphone. The company's CEO J Wong has indicated that he hopes the M8's successor, the M9, will be out by Christmas. The phone is reportedly now available for pre-order at retail stores in China.

Much as he did leading up to the launch of the M8, Wong has been teasing with images and screenshots from from the new phone on the Meizu bulletin board site. Unlike the M8 which ran a modified Windows CE 6, the M9 will operate on a customized version of Android 2.2. The design is still very iPhone-like, and we'll have to wait and see if Meizu faces the same reported resistance from Apple as with the M8. Note the distinctive Chinese seal logo in the corner (which reads 'Mei-zu'):

Wong is also ambitiously teasing images of a M9II. We like the fact that he's actively eliciting feedback from the public via the Meizu online forums though.

If the M9 avoids the legal issues of its predecessor then it should be well received in China. Pricing is said to be around US$370 for the 8GB model and $399 for the 16GB version.

There are conflicting reports about whether or not Meizu intends to sell mobile phones internationally, so for now, we can only conclude that there is a possibility.

If we consider the specs, Meizu's M9 could certainly win over a few fans who prefer to support a homegrown smartphone rather than a foreign import. I've heard the M9II's details are even more impressive, but I think it's a little early to discuss those.

M9 Specifications

ComponentSpecification CPU1Ghz Cortex A8-based Samsung S5PC110 DisplaySharp 3.54", 960x640 resolution, 16 million colors Graphic chipsetPowerVR SGX 540 Camera5 megapixels RAM512MB ConnectivityBluetooth, WiFi (WAPI), GPS, TV-out (via mini USB) Expansion slotMicro-SDHC

bbs.meizu.com (Chinese)