What kind of innovations do you expect from smartphones? Although people have been doubting whether Apple could maintain its momentum of innovation as it did with the early iPhones, we still expect more. The iPhone 6 saw massive sales through the support of millions of Apple fans in love with the iOS system and Apple’s flourishing app ecosystem. Samsung’s latest models, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, enthralled us with new materials, curved displays and LoopPay, while LG’s Flex 2 upended the traditional definition of flat-screen smartphones.

Though we’ve been overwhelmed by the innovations of smartphone makers at MWC, TechNode would like offer reminders of areas that shouldn’t be neglected. They remain the areas where users hope for most improvements.

1. Voice: Voice recognition is nothing new. Siri and similar technologies have long been applied in smartphones, raising our anticipations for more efficient human-machine interaction. However, most of us were disappointed. Siri may be a very powerful tool, but we still have to press the screen or button to trigger it. Besides the demand for increased voice recognition accuracy, existing voice recognition technologies rely on cloud services. So, will voice control become useless without good network connections?

2. Gestures and motions: As today’s indispensable digital device, smartphones aren’t sufficiently customizable. When you raise your phone to take a picture, does it open the camera automatically? If the phone is on standby, does it light up and unlock automatically? We believe there is still ample room to innovate.

These are the areas in which users expect further improvement. Analyses show utilization rate of voice command features remains quite low despite it being well known by the public. This is because existing services have failed to provide simple and effective solutions, rather than the lack of relevant demand or users’ low acceptance levels.

ZTE regained our attention when it released a new logo last year. We found little stood out in most of ZTE’s previous smartphones with an exception of Nubia which was used by China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan, but I want to give the thumbs-up to its latest smartphones, as released at the MWC – Star 2 and Blade S6.

ZTE Star 2 has optimized system-level voice control. The biggest highlight is that the phone can hear the voice demands of users without the need to tap any buttons first. Moreover, voice control orders can be processed locally, free from reliance on the cloud. At the same time, acoustic fingerprint technology enables the device to listen to only you. As a latecomer in B2C field, ZTE has invested heavily in voice control R&D and marketing. The smart voice control alliance headed by ZTE includes major companies like Baidu, AutoNavi, Nuance, Audience, NXP and Sensory, to promote the research and application of speech recognition technologies.

ZTE Blade S6 features Smart Sense – an intuitive and practical set of gestures and motion controls. The smartphone lights automatically when you pick it up. The EyeVerify function can unlock the smartphone by scanning your retina.

In face of fierce competition amongst domestic brands on hardware specs and prices, overseas manufacturers are seeking breakthroughs in design and material. ZTE has chosen a user-oriented path to foster more practical innovations.


Source: Gang Lu

Editing by Mike Cormack (@bucketoftongues)

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via lixin@sixthtone.com or Twitter.

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