CES: ZTE hopes to make Android 'Blade' stick

ZTE isn't officially announcing its first U.S. smartphone at CES, but we did see the candidate, and found out a few things about what's to come.

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ZTE Blade, CES 2011
Looking for a U.S. home. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

LAS VEGAS--ZTE isn't announcing devices besides its tablets, but we were able to glean a few things during our meeting with the Chinese phone manufacturer at CES. Chiefly, ZTE is looking for a home for the ZTE Blade, an Android-powered smartphone that's already been released in Europe and Asia.

We took a look at the Blade--it has a 3.5-inch touch screen, and a 3.2-megapixel camera. In global markets, it currently runs Android 2.1 but should be upgradable to Android 2.2 (Froyo). Right now ZTE says it's in talks with major and regional U.S. carriers to find the Blade a home.

Design-wise, our first impressions peg it as run of the mill: black with some silver accents and a soft-touch back cover. It's certainly more of an entry-level device from what we could see, best suited toward casual or newer smartphone users.

More significant is that this would be ZTE's first smartphone in the U.S. market, just as the Blade was also the company's first smartphone in Japan. At this point, it's too soon to tell where the Blade will stick and if it's sharp enough to penetrate the U.S. market or at least give ZTE more mindshare among phone owners.

This CES also marks the first time that ZTE has reached out to the U.S. press, CNET learned. We take that as an indication of more ZTE smartphones to come.