ZTE to join the smartwatch frenzy

Word has it that the Chinese smartphone maker is planning to launch a low-cost smartwatch.

ZTE's upcoming smartwatch is said to be like others on the market, such as the Fitbit Force, Pebble, and Samsung Galaxy Gear (left to right). Sarah Tew/CNET

ZTE appears to be looking to drop the price of smartwatches by making its own low-cost version of the wearable gadget.

The Chinese tech company plans to unveil a smartwatch in the beginning of next year, according to The Wall Street Journal. This gadget will be similar to other smartwatches already on the market, like Samsung's Galaxy Gear, but designed for a more money-conscious crowd.

"We are focusing on the mainstream market," Lu Qianhao, ZTE's head of handset marketing strategy, told the Journal.

ZTE is known for its affordable smartphones, like the ZTE Source, which retails for about $220 and the ZTE Overture that costs $150. According to the Journal, the company's upcoming smartwatch will only be compatible with ZTE's smartphones, but that could change after the device's launch.

Tons of tech companies have jumped into the smartwatch craze over the last year. Samsung launched its Galaxy Gear in September, and Pebble recently started selling its version of the wearable. Other devices from makers such as Sony, Martian, and Qualcomm have also popped up, along with ongoing rumors that Apple is developing an iWatch and Google is readying its Google Now. Those smartwatches already on the market cost anywhere from $150 to $350.

According to the Journal, ZTE's smartwatch will first be available in China and then could be launched in the US and European markets.

CNET contacted ZTE for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.

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