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ZTE turns to Kickstarter to see if people want a hands-free, sticky phone

Smartphone maker ZTE came to CES armed with new smartphones and Axon 7 Nougat upgrade plans, but perhaps the most interesting announcement is one that needs a little help getting off the ground. Dubbed the Project CSX Phone, ZTE is turning to Kickstarter to deliver its first crowdsourced phone to the masses.

Back in August, ZTE enlisted the help of its Z-Community to craft the next-generation smartphone, and their efforts finally came to fruition this week. After several rounds of voting representing 176 different countries, ZTE has unveiled the Hawkeye phone, which includes two unique features that users apparently demanded: hands-free scrolling and an adhesive case.

According to the company’s Kickstarter page, the two marquee features were submitted by a team of four creative designers who won the Project CSX competition. The scrolling feature uses a high-resolution front camera to track iris motion and translate it into gestures, while the sticky backside is actually a case that needs to be applied when you want to adhere the phone to something.

ZTE

The Hawkeye phone’s adhesive case lets you stick it to a surface when you don’t have any hands free.

If that sounds weird, the rest of the phone is likely to be pretty standard. ZTE is very light on the specifics, but it will include a 5.5-inch full-HD display, dual rear cameras with enhanced image and zoom capabilities, hi-fi audio, a large battery with quick-charging capabilities, a fingerprint sensor, and a pair of SIM slots. And while the phone will ship with Nougat, it’s not planning to ship until September 2017, at which point Android O will likely be available.

If you want to support the project, it’ll cost you $199 for shipping anywhere in the world. ZTE is seeking a $500,000 goal to bring the phone to market.

Why this matters: While it’s an interesting idea to build a crowd-sourced phone and deliver it via a crowd-funded site, the features here don’t seem like anything to get too excited about. Samsung tried the eye-scrolling thing with the Smart Scroll on the Galaxy S4, but it was more of a lame gimmick than a killer feature. And while the ability to stick to walls could come in handy, needing to attach a case to use it seems clunky. And that’s if it even it raises enough money to get made.

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