The smartwatch market isn't looking promising for companies considering the proposition of crafting a smartwatch, but that isn't stopping Chinese manufacturer ZTE from entering the smartwatch market. ZTE USA chairman and CEO Lixin Cheng said that the company is preparing an Android Wear smartwatch running Android Wear with LTE capabilities that provide freedom from the traditional Bluetooth, smartphone-tethered experience. As for LTE connectivity, the company has already secured a US carrier with which to provide the feature. I presume the carrier in mind here is T-Mobile, since ZTE has released a T-Mobile/Metro PCS - exclusive smartphone, the ZTE ZMAX Pro, for its customers. T-Mobile owns MetroPCS and MetroPCS is a virtual network operator, for those who want to know. ZTE would likely launch its smartwatch with a GSM carrier, which, in the US, would refer to either T-Mobile or AT&T.
As for the timing, ZTE says that LTE connectivity and poor battery life were early problems, but that "others did the experimentation for us," Cheng said in an interview with CNET before the start of CES 2017.
True, it is the case that other companies have inaugurated LTE on Android Wear, specifically LG with its LG Watch Urbane LTE, the first Android Wear smartwatch to feature LTE connectivity. There were early battery problems with Android Wear, though most AW smartwatches can get up to 36 hours on a single charge at this point. We're betting that Android Wear 2.0 will bring additional battery improvements to Google's wearables platform along with standalone apps, greater watch face customization, smart reply, an on-screen keyboard, and so on.
Google also intends to launch its own Android Wear smartwatches without the Pixel branding of its smartphones or any Google branding whatsoever and in cooperation with OEMs as was the case with the former Nexus smartphone series.
This isn't ZTE's first foray into smartwatches, with the company having launched the ZTE BlueWatch in 2014, Smartwatch W01, and the Axon Watch with its TencentTOS+ platform back in 2015. The company launched the Mamorino smartwatch for kids in Japan early last year. The Mamorino is the first smartwatch worldwide to feature Voice Over LTE (or VoLTE). The upcoming ZTE smartwatch will be the first to run Google's platform, Android Wear.
We can bet that the ZTE smartwatch will run Android Wear 2.0, but it won't be released until later this year.