Jan 4th, 2017

[UPDATE] An anonymous tipster has reached out and provided us with a screenshot of an email they received announcing that ZTE is performing a beta of said device. The email is dated from December 16th of last year, so it seems as though this has been on the docket for a while now and the beta tests are likely under way.

Previous report follows.

ZTE has been knocking it out of the park lately with their mid-range devices, the ZTE Axon 7 was easily one of the best mid-range smartphones of 2016. It’s still one of the best as we head into 2017, but what’s surprising is to hear the company is prepping to launch its own wearable this year, too.

The Chinese company has long been known for making budget devices to sell in the US, but now wearables will be added to that catalog. In a new interview with CNET, CEO Lixin Cheng confirmed that his company already has a US carrier partner lined up to help sell the watch, which will feature an LTE connection and can operate independently of its paired smartphone.

ZTE has a lot riding on this launch, too. Android Wear devices were somewhat stagnant in 2016, thanks to Google pushing back the release of Android Wear 2.0 until later this year. With a market that hasn’t responded to expensive smartwatches, ZTE may succeed with a cheaper and simpler device that features activity tracking and better battery life than previous devices in the same category.

ZTE’s CEO seems confident about the future of his company’s efforts with a smartwatch, as he stated “others did the experimentation for us” in reference to the spate of Android Wear devices that marked the first generation of wearables. He made specific references to the horrible battery life found in those devices, so here’s to hoping ZTE’s effort addresses those concerns.

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