Voice control on this ZTE phone works without data, even when the phone is locked

ZTE announced the Star 2 smartphone, the latest to feature its comprehensive voice activation and control system, which operates even when the phone is locked or without a data connection. The sleek, aluminum framed device is slim at just 6.9mm, and uses the latest version of ZTE’s MiFavor 3.0 user interface over the Android OS.

We’re getting used to controlling devices with our voices, thanks to the Moto X and new Android Wear smartwatches, but it’s not always very fast or accurate. ZTE boasts its voice recognition feature has a 90 percent success rate, even when used in noisy environments, and a fast, 1.2 second average response time.

What can you tell the Star 2 to do? Interestingly, you can unlock the phone by talking to it, and the phone will recognize your voice. You can then ask it to make calls, open apps, play music, take photos, or reply to messages. Some voice controls operate without making you unlock the phone first, because it already knows your voice, so simply asking to phone a contact by name is enough to initiate a call.

ZTE’s voice controls make driving safer

ZTE also updated its driving mode to include the new voice control system, making it possible to use the GPS, reply to messages, answer calls, or control music without physically interacting with the phone. What isn’t mentioned is the Star 2’s language support. Currently destined for China, it’s not clear whether the Star 2 is as adept at listening to English, as it inevitably will be with Mandarin.

Moving on to the hardware, the Star 2 has a 5-inch, 1080p touchscreen covered in Gorilla Glass 3, encased between thin, 1.18mm bezels, and wrapped in an aluminum alloy frame. A quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor with 2GB of RAM powers the device, and there’s 16GB of internal memory onboard. A wide-angle, 5-megapixel selfie camera sits above the display, and a 13-megapixel camera is found on the rear.

ZTE put the Star 2 on sale in China for the equivalent of $400, and says it will announce wider international release dates in the near future. It’ll have the Star 2 on display during CES 2015.