ZTE's BlueWatch brings Pebble-like features to China (hands-on)

Trends rule at CES, and one of the biggest themes we've noticed before the show even officially begins is wearables. Smartwatches, HUDs/glasses and fitness trackers are popping up all over the place, and ZTE is hoping to be part of the excitement by showing off a prototype of its upcoming smartwatch known as the BlueWatch. It's due in the first half of this year in China, but the company isn't ready to discuss details on expanding it outside the country yet. The early model we saw was admittedly not a final unit, so we won't make final judgments on the device just because of a few tweaks that still need to be made (as you can see in the above image, the unit we demoed suffered from bleeding lights underneath the display and wasn't as bright as we'd like). There was, however, one particular thing that stood out to us when we played with it.

While we're not going to call it a Pebble clone, the BlueWatch at least has quite a few similar traits. It uses a small e-paper display, tethers via Bluetooth, it features the same trio of buttons on the side to help you navigate the UI and it boasts three watchfaces and a menu setup that Pebble fans will feel eerily at home using. Additionally, you'll notice a home button on the left, next to a magnetic charger port. Of course, it's not all alike; the BlueWatch uses a different build and non-detachable wristband. Since the device doesn't have a SIM, it doesn't take calls; however, you'll be able to receive notifications, use the pedometer and check on your social networks like Twitter and Facebook. We're still awaiting word on more opportunities for third-party developers, but at the moment it doesn't seem quite clear. As we're currently seeing a beta product, we have a feeling that we could see a few enhancements in several areas as the project develops.