Guess who has an “advanced gaming smartphone” ready for release next week? Surprise, it’s ZTE…

ZTE Era Press ShotZTE has announced through Twitter that next week, at a special event in London, it will unveil an “advanced gaming smartphone,” a phrase it felt the need to capitalize to properly convey its excitement.

The tweet went on to say that the device would be “in our hands” that day, indicating that it’s not just a launch event, but a release event too.

If, beforehand, we had been quizzed on who was about to come up with an advanced gaming smartphone, ZTE wouldn’t have been our answer. It’s not that the company isn’t successful — at the end of last year, analysts at Gartner put it in fourth position in its worldwide smartphone market share chart — it’s that ZTE has yet to reveal itself as a big innovator.

The market is ready

Gaming is hugely popular on smartphones, but there aren’t all that many dedicated gaming phones out there. The Sony Xperia Play is the most obvious, modern device, then there were several failed attempts by Nokia in years gone by; but recently it has been accessory manufacturers who have been innovating in the mobile gaming world, with cool toys such as the iCade 8-Bitty and the Gametel.

The market is ripe for exploitation then, and ZTE is very keen to make a splash in the US and Europe, something it may achieve if the mystery device really is as advanced as advertised.

There’s also the hint that the phone will be available soon after the launch. This approach has proved to be successful for Apple and Samsung, and it looks like ZTE has been paying attention. In the past, ZTE has announced phones that never seem to go on sale — take the quad-core Era seen during Mobile World Congress as an example.

How advanced are we talking?

Exactly what will make ZTE’s phone so advanced isn’t known. Although it’s not stated, it’s almost certain the phone will run Android, but will it have physical controls like the Xperia Play? A joypad accessory? Or something truly exciting and new?

ZTE already has a good relationship with Nvidia, having used both the Tegra 2 processor and the Icera modem in the Mimosa X. Could the new phone use the Tegra 3 and its GeForce GPU, and have Nvidia’s TegraZone portal app pre-installed? If so, it’ll still need something extra to make it “advanced.”

If ZTE’s offering lives up to the hype, it’ll have beaten the newly PlayStation Certified HTC to the post, making us wonder why both it and Sony bothered to announce anything, if a device isn’t ready yet.

ZTE’s event will take place in London on Wednesday, July 18. We’ll keep our expectations realistic, but it’s difficult not to be intrigued.