For some time now ZTE has been running a program to crowdsource the ideas for smartphones. The basis for this is to collect the ideas of consumers in order to best build the kind of device that consumers want. Some may actually disagree with this philosophy, but it's one that ZTE has taken to its extreme with their crowd sourced X (CSX) program, where X stands for any physically possible mobile device that consumers can dream up.

ZTE's CSX program is now beginning to show results with the announcement of ZTE's first crowdsourced smartphone, the Hawkeye. Given that this is a very experimental way of developing a smartphone, ZTE is departing from their standard methods for development and distribution. They've set up a Kickstarter campaign, which for the time being will also serve as the storefront for buyers to purchase the phone. Right now the goal is set at $500,000 USD, and with each phone priced at $200 it appears that ZTE hopes to sell at least 2500 units, which seems feasible even for a very niche device.

The two primary features of the Hawkeye phone that came from consumer input are the ability to navigate the interface using eye movement, and the inclusion of an adhesive case that allows the phone to be attached to surfaces. It's worth noting that Samsung has implemented eye-tracking to control the UI in the past, and it hasn't worked out well due to problems with tracking, eye strain, and the general lack of sense in moving a smartphone UI around with ones eyes. The adhesive case is being billed as a convenient feature, and while I don't really see the use of it, it's obviously something that was proposed to ZTE and supported by enough users that it was chosen to be put into production. Until now there hasn't been much detail about the Hawkeye stacks up internally, but we now have an idea of what the specs look like, and I've included those below.

  ZTE Hawkeye
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
8 x 2.0GHz Cortex A53
Display 5.5" 1920 x 1080
Size / Mass 156.4 x 75.8 x 7.9mm
Battery 3000 mAh
Rear Camera 12MP + 13MP
"Optical Zoom"
Front Camera 8MP
Storage 32GB
I/O USB Type-C connector, 3.5mm audio, dual SIM, NFC
Fingerprint Scanner Yes
Software Android 7.0 Nougat
Price $199 USD

As you can see, there are still some details missing, but the available specs give a good idea as to where the ZTE Hawkeye sits in the market. As of right now there are no true photos of the Hawkeye, partially due to the fact that ZTE is still crowdsourcing ideas regarding the design, including the color choices and the materials to be used, although that latter part will obviously be limited to a degree by the cost of the phone. The cover image for this article is a concept render, and you may have already noted oddities like the fact that it only has a single rear camera when the Hawkeye is supposed to have two.

Anyone interested in buying the ZTE Hawkeye can check out ZTE's Kickstarter campaign. It's priced at $199 USD, and ZTE states that they plan to have it available in September of this year, but that date is subject to change. They also caution that they may not be able to deliver the eye-tracking and adhesion features in a satisfactory manner, which could lead to the device being cancelled. In the event of the phone's cancellation, buyers will be entitled to a ZTE phone of equivalent price, with there seemingly being no option to have the contribution refunded instead.

Source: ZTE Kickstarter

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  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    What about the Xperia Z Compact line, which has a larger screen (4.3" - 4.6") with higher resolution (1136*640 vs 1280*720) but is only 14% larger in front surface area.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Friday, January 20, 2017 - link

    many in the small phone niche claim even the SE is pushing it for one handed use. The x compact is too large.

    and at least now, the x compact doesnt have flagship specs like the iphone, and has much worse battery life. it doesnt really compare.

    now the z5 compact, OTOH, was better. but still too large.
  • moozooh - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    There is Sony Xperia Compact line, but the last model that was universally considered great and small (4.3") was Z1 Compact, that is, the first one. For instance, Z5 Compact has an all-plastic body and is larger to the point where controlling it with a thumb becomes inconvenient (4.6"). X Compact isn't waterproof and has a weaker SoC than Z5C for some reason, despite a year gap in release dates. Z1C was the only one that wasn't a compromise.
  • R7 - Saturday, January 21, 2017 - link

    Actually X Compact IS waterproof. It just isn't advertised and covered by the warranty. Search youtube - there is proof of it being waterproof.

    Regarding SoC i would say SD625 that XC uses is more powerful than the aging 810 in Z5C. Defenetly more powerful than SD801 in Z3C and Z1C. So i would not get too upset about it.

    The main weakness is battery life. Z3C that i own is still one of the best of all time with 101h rating (accoring to GSM Arena). Compared to 70-80h on newer compacts. I don't know why that's the case tho considering the newer SoC-s are supposed to be more power efficient and the battery capacity is largely the same.

    Anyway i think Z3C was and still is the best in the series. It has it's problems too like the super fragile back glass but nothing outstanding. Would i have liked it to be 4,3" or even 4,0"? Hell yes. But in the absence of competition 4,6" will do.
  • bug77 - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    A device sold in 2500 (or so) units will surely get speedy updates. /s
  • fanofanand - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    It seems odd that the enthusiast community would dream up an 8x A53 setup *yawn*. I'm sure they had to in order to get the price below $200, but I would think an extra $30 would be worth it to step up to 2 x A73 and 2 x A35. That seems like the best of all worlds with no excess of cores, 2 power efficient cores to run the UI and 2 powerful cores for everything else. Seems to work well for Apple with just the 2 powerful cores....
  • Meteor2 - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    Absolutely... mind you, are there any SoCs out there with 2xA72 and 2xA35 (I'd say A73 is too new to be in the wild yet). I've not seen any A35 SoCs yet which seems odd given how long ago it was announced...
  • Trixanity - Thursday, January 19, 2017 - link

    No A35 SoCs to my knowledge but the Kirin 960 has been out for months and it's got 4 A73 cores and 4 A53 cores, so it does exist in the wild through the Mate 9 and all its variants.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Friday, January 20, 2017 - link

    "What seems to be counter-intuitive is that ARM sees the A35 not as a successor to the A53, but rather a replacement for the A7 and A5"

    there isnt much of a reason for the a35 to be in smartphones (as interesting of an idea that is). Performance would probably be too poor. Better off waiting for a 53 replacement.

    That being said, a a73/35 config would probably give amazing battery life.
  • Meteor2 - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    Who on earth asked for 8xA53s??

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