Spreadtrum, a manufacturer of mobile chipset platforms for smartphones and feature phones, has expanded its partnership with Facebook so that Android users outside of China will be able to access the social network on its hardware.

The fabless semiconductor company, whose chips support 2G, 3G and 4G wireless connectivity standards, will now collaborate with Facebook both on platform testing and software optimization before the release of any future app updates.

The partnership will help to accelerate the availability of Facebook’s new features and also ensure a high quality user experience for device manufacturers that use Spreadtrum’s platform.

Spreadtrum already offers Facebook as a pre-loaded app as part of its turnkey smartphone platform. It’s a solution that combines the device’s processor, basic software, operating system and reference design, making it far easier for hardware manufacturers to design new products and release them to the public.

The new partnership, which means that Spreadtrum can offer the pre-loaded Facebook app outside of China, is particularly important because the firm works with a number of hardware manufacturers which are based in China, but export their devices to overseas markets such as Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa and India.

Vaughan Smith, vice president of Mobile Partnerships and Corporate Development at Facebook, said the social network was pleased to be working with Spreadtrum, and hoped to deliver a “high quality application experience” for consumers who are buying a smartphone for the first time.

“Working with Spreadtrum will extend Facebook’s reach in emerging markets, leveraging the rapid shift from feature phones to smartphones that is now taking place globally,” he said.

Spreadtrum launched its low-cost Android smartphone platform last year, and said today that it hopes to ship between 80 and 100 million smartphone chipsets in 2013 that support EDGE, WCDMA/HSPA+ and China’s TD-SCDMA communications standards.

The partnership will no doubt benefit both companies. Spreadtrum now has a much closer relationship with Facebook, thereby improving its offering to handset manufacturers and hopefully attracting some new customers in the process. Facebook, meanwhile, is able to rollout better apps to a larger number of people, improving the quality of its services and gaining new users in the process.

Expect Facebook to engage in more hardware collaborations, especially with manufacturers operating in emerging markets. Nokia’s Asha 205, unveiled last November, is one such device and even features a dedicated Facebook button.

Image Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages