In a sea of identical-looking smartphones, imagine a new device. A wearable smartphone, with a long, flexible display that wraps around your wrist, lets you use real apps, make phone calls, and even take selfies.

And this is no dream, it’s real: ZTE’s sub-brand Nubia showed off this very device at the consumer electronics show IFA.

Sound good? You may want to take a look at it first.

The prototype, named Nubia Alpha (Nubia-α) seemed to work just fine… but it’s not really the functionality that’s the problem here, right?

Whether you want to call it a wearable smartphone or a huge smartwatch, it’s big and bulky. There’s a wide band that wraps around the display and a thick body that stores the camera and other components.

Chinese netizens are not impressed by its look. “It looks like a menstrual pad,” Weibo users say.

Weibo users have not been kinda to the Nubia Alpha, but... can you blame them? (Picture: Nubia)

The company hasn’t made the specs public at the show or online, and it was apparently kept behind glass at the show. But even though they didn’t let people touch the prototype, Nubia claims that it will go on sale in China by the end of this year.

Launched in 2012 by ZTE, Nubia was aimed at reaching the high-end market with the ability to take great photos. It came in the spotlight in 2014 after China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan was spotted using a Nubia phone to take pictures at a football match.

ZTE spun Nubia off as a separate company -- but still retains the majority of shares, with founder Li Qiang saying “Nubia is part of the big ZTE family.”

The company pledged to join Apple and Samsung in the global top five -- but has fallen far short of that goal. In the last quarter of 2017, ZTE, including Nubia, only shipped 9.4 million smartphones. The world’s current 5th biggest smartphone vendor, Oppo, shipped 30.7 million.

It hasn’t given up though: Yesterday Nubia launched its new “AI flagship” Z18, which used the “water droplet” notch, a new trend that’s forming among Chinese smartphone makers that don’t have 3D facial recognition for a smaller notch.

The Z18 costs US$412 with mid-end specs (it runs the Snapdragon 845 chipset with 6GB to 8GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of storage), but boasts AI capabilities in photos and voice recognition.