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ZTE’s Axon Watch is no longer a prototype, but annoyingly is still only headed to China

The exciting Axon smartphone, developed by ZTE, is already on sale and was something of a mystery before that point. Now we know the flagship product is only the first in a line of new mobile devices from ZTE under the Axon name. The company announced a smartwatch called the Axon Watch that it will release in China, and here’s what you need to know about the interesting wearable.

Updated on 10-12-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in final specs, and a release date for the Axon Watch

First revealed in July, ZTE waited several months before officially announcing its final release date, then in October it stated eager buyers would be able to purchase it online from October 27. It’ll be sold through the MyZTE online store, and is only available in China for now — mainly due to the Tencent-backed operating system.

Related: Read our hands-on experience with the ZTE Axon Watch

That’s right, the Axon Watch doesn’t run Android Wear, or not exactly. It’s one of the first to run Tencent’s TOS+ operating system. China’s Tencent announced TOS+ in May, and confirmed it would be working with ZTE — among other manufacturers — at the time. Images showing the OS operating on a circular smartwatch appeared soon afterwards.

The Axon Watch also has a circular screen, measures 1.4 inches in diameter, and is covered in Gorilla Glass with a sapphire coating. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor is inside, and the Watch has 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage memory, and connects using Bluetooth 4.1. A 300mnAh battery provides the energy, and the whole watch has an IP67 rating to keep it safe from moisture and dust.

It’s part of a joint project between ZTE and Tencent — a huge Chinese Internet company that owns everything from media services to the WeChat messaging app — and can be operated either with gestures on the touch-screen or by voice. Wearers will be able to review fitness and health data, and it runs a range of apps including ones for taking phone calls and sending messages, including those through Tencent’s WeChat and QQ social network.

ZTE Axon Watch Close

Tencent’s TOS+ is based on Android, but due to Google’s services not being widely available in China, neither it nor Android Wear are suitable for use there. Forked versions like TOS+ are common, and Tencent has also developed its own smartphone operating system called TOS. When ZTE initially announced the Watch in July, it also mentioned a Mini version of the Axon phone would be added to the growing range in the future, but didn’t discuss specifics. The device became official in October.

Related: Read our hands-on with the gorgeous, and high-spec, Axon smartphone

Returning to the Axon Watch, in its current form the device will inevitably stay in China. However, because ZTE hasn’t released an Android Wear smartwatch internationally yet, the Axon Watch may give us a sneak peek at its plans for the future.