ZTE’s crowd-sourced smartphone is in trouble

The ZTE Hawkeye was hailed as a fantastic new direction for the mobile industry as the Chinese firm paraded its innovative, fan-designed phone in front of the media at CES 2017. Thing is, all is not well in the ZTE fan camp. 

Cooked up under ZTE’s Project CSX, which gave fans the opportunity to design and pitch their ideal smartphone to the manufacturer with one winning design getting built, the Hawkeye was born with eye-tracking tech and an adhesive back which can stick to any surface. 

Thing is, fans invested in the project thought they’d be getting a flagship smartphone, but it turns out ZTE has put the two key features into a more mid-range offering – leading to mass disappointment. 

The ZTE Hawkeye is currently listed as having a 5.5-inch Full HD display, Snapdragon 625 chipset, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, 3,000mAh battery, fingerprint scanner, dual rear cameras (13MP+12MP) and an 8MP front snapper. 

Among the top grumbles are the mid-range chipset, relatively small battery size and lack of network band support for many carriers and countries.

One change only

Stuck with the $199 price point on the Kickstarter campaign, ZTE can’t give the handset a total spec overhaul, so it’s instead committed to upgrading one aspect of the phone. 

To decide what gets upgraded it’s given its community the choice of a Snapdragon 835 chipset, a larger 3,500mAh battery, stock Android or 'other' with voters able to leave comments on what they'd like. 

At the moment the Snapdragon 835 is winning, although several comments are calling for 4GB of RAM, a smaller screen and more internal storage. 

Head to the Kickstarter page for the ZTE Hawkeye and the scale of the trouble is clear to see. It’s nowhere near its $500,000, having raised just under $35,000 at time of writing from 182 backers in just 19 days. 

With 26 days left of the campaign it looks unlikely to reach its “all or nothing” funding goal.

Via PhoneArena

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.