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
RAM 3GB
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"
PDAF
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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  • Flunk - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    Wow, I read "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" and thought: gimmicky eye navigation feature that doesn't work and massive lint problem.

    Am I so cynical that I can't understand how great this phone is? Or are the people they're asking for ideas idiots?
    Reply
  • Valantar - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    That was exactly what I thought when I first read of this.

    Eye navigation is an utterly brain dead idea - simply because it _forces_ you to actually look away from what you're doing in order to navigate. It's so stupid I can't even think of a fitting simile of something equally stupid. It's like ... tying your legs together to walk more efficiently?

    Of course, as an accessibility feature, this has its uses - and as such, should be available on _all_ phones. Making smart devices more accessible to those with various handicaps is a worthy goal, after all.

    Also, self-adhesive backing? Why not just convince one of the bajillion makers of "gecko pads" and the like to start making phone cases? Then you could get whatever phone you like, and still have it covered in _all_ the dust. (Also, a case is actually removable and washable, unlike most phones' backs.)
    Reply
  • SharpHawk - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    > Of course, as an accessibility feature, this has its uses - and as such, should be available on _all_ phones. Making smart devices more accessible to those with various handicaps is a worthy goal, after all.

    Making "all" phones more expensive for everyone for the sake of making them more accessible to a vanishingly small percentage of the population is not a worthy goal, quite the opposite.
    Reply
  • Valantar - Wednesday, January 18, 2017 - link

    Eye tracking, at least in decent lighting conditions, should be feasible through software with standard FFCs of reasonable quality. It's the software that's lacking. And if Google actually made the effort to integrate this into Android (as they've done with countless other "expensive" concepts) it would essentially be free.

    Also, arguing against accessibility features because of "cost" does place you in the running for "ableist a**hole of the year." Congratulations. You might consider checking your privilege ever so slightly, perhaps from time to time considering the perspectives of people different from yourself. Your apparent ideological stance that "tech is for the able bodied and/or the rich" has some inherent logical, philosophical and ethical flaws. Just saying.
    Reply
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    The stickiness is not built into the phone, it's a removable case, as is stated quite plainly on the KS page. Reply
  • Hinton - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    I wonder whether the feature is named after Stephen Hawkins, or that its just random that he'll find such a feature usefull.

    The adhesive will keep the phone stuck to his dashboard, when he's doing corners.
    Reply
  • K_Space - Friday, January 20, 2017 - link

    >Am I so cynical that I can't understand how great this phone is? Or are the people they're asking for ideas idiots?<

    I think people were being funny/sarcastic or whatever word you want to use; do you remember the RRS David Attenborough naming fiasco?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RRS_Sir_David_Attenb...

    ZTE were the idiots for actually falling for this!
    Reply
  • lefty2 - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    adhesive case is a great idea. Just stick a bit of velcro on one side and you can hang it off your jumper Reply
  • dstarr3 - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    "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"

    And as we know, customers always know exactly what they want.
    Reply
  • BedfordTim - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    To be fair there are niches which clearly exist but aren't filled.
    As an example the only small high spec phone is the iPhone 6SE. There is nothing like it running Android despite the iOS version selling extremely well.
    Reply

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