The ZTE BlueWatch is the company’s first attempt at a wearable device that will communicate with an Android phone and it doesn't have to be a ZTE handset.
Currently in ‘post concept stage’, the BlueWatch is scheduled to launch in 2014 and there is still some work to do before it's ready to be worn around the wrist.
Unlike smartwatches like the Samsung Galaxy Gear and the Pebble, the BlueWatch lacks a touchscreen relying instead on four chrome buttons, three of which sit on the right side of the watch face to navigate menu screens. The 1.26-inch e-ink display is smaller than most watch displays thanks to the thick surrounding black bezel.
The BlueWatch includes a backlight for increased night-time visibility and a magnetic charging point that requires a proprietary dock to power up the 235mAh battery. It's immediately obvious that the Pebble is the design inspiration for the BlueWatch, though the body is thicker and slightly more bulky than Kickstarter-funded timepiece.
Compatible with smartphones running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or above, the BlueWatch syncs over Bluetooth 3.0 or 4.0 to see incoming phone calls, emails, and view social network notifications from the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Powering the performance is a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 processor and 128KB of RAM with 1024KB of internal flash which on the whole doesn't sound all that impressive.
Jumping into the main watch menu screens, you can adjust watch faces, access a stopwatch and there's Find My Phone support if the smartphone goes walkies. The other key feature is the ability to track runs though it's not clear whether third-party apps will be supported like the Magellan Echo smart running watch does for instance. The pedometer is really the only built-in feature on the watch so literally everything else is entirely dependent on being connected to a smartphone.
Smartwatches and wearables are launching from all angles and while the ZTE BlueWatch looks to be a solid smartphone companion, there's little to suggest it will be the best of the bunch. Most of the features already appear on current smartwatches and the design has clearly been borrowed from the Pebble. There's still time for things to change, although we have a feeling that this is as close to the finished article and as it stands it's pretty forgettable.
Read more: Razer Nabu smart band hands-on