ZTE wants the public’s ideas for its next smartphone

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ZTE is China’s second-largest telecommunications company, behind Huawei

Electronics giant ZTE wants the public to help design one of its next mobile phones.

The company has launched a website where people can submit their ideas and vote on those of others.

Initial proposals have included a solar-panel case, a second screen that can rotate 360 degrees, and a modular design to connect with keyboards and games controllers.

ZTE has promised to release the “crowd-sourced” phone in 2017.

Known as Project CSX, the initiative was first announced in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Submissions officially opened on 3 August, and ZTE’s community website now features a growing list of ideas proposed by the public.

One user believes the phone should include a “desktop mode” that turns it into a rudimentary PC, while another says ZTE should build a phone dedicated entirely to Pokemon Go.

But the smartphone manufacturer has laid some ground rules to curb impractical ideas.

“Of course, there are always rules and restrictions to any competition. The most important thing is that the product that we end up building follows ZTE’s mission,” said Jeff Yee, vice-president of technology planning at ZTE.

“It must be a mobile product, technically possible by 2017 and be affordable to the general public.”

The initiative was a “bold approach for the industry that demonstrates how ZTE keeps consumers at the heart of everything”, said Lixin Cheng, chief executive of ZTE USA.

But one smartphone expert believes the crowd-sourcing project comes with caveats.

“I’m sceptical that Project CSX will create something the world has never seen before,” said Nick Wood, assistant editor of Total Telecom.

“One reason being, the final device has to be affordable, which probably rules out expensive upcoming features that require new manufacturing techniques like flexible screens.”

Mr Wood said there was a pronounced homogeneity to smartphone designs, with many of the most popular phones adopting the same slate shape with similar camera and storage specs.

“Genuine, eye-catching innovation in smartphone hardware is the exception rather than the rule,” he said.

ZTE is China’s second-largest telecommunications company, after Huawei.

Based in Shenzhen, the corporation is known for its smartphones, but it also makes semiconductors and other products.



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