Phones Take Center Stage at CES

Move over Nexus One: A slew of Android smartphones in all shapes and sizes invaded the show floor. Other phone trends we saw were affordable, yet stylish messaging devices for tweens and revamped versions of favorites from last year.

Samsung Galaxy Spica

The Galaxy Spica may sound familiar, because it's not exactly a new phone; it was launched overseas late last year. The Galaxy Spica is a revamped version of the Galaxy, Samsung's first Android phone. The Galaxy Spica, redesigned for the U.S. market, sports a 3.2-inch HVGA display, a speedy 800MHz processor (also seen on Samsung's Android-based Moment), and a 3-megapixel camera.

Like the Moment, the Galaxy Spica sports the vanilla Android 1.5 user interface, which might be a good thing if you're not a fan of Samsung's sometimes confusing TouchWiz 3D user interface. Carrier and price haven't been announced, but the Galaxy Spica is a GSM-capable phone so it will either go to AT&T or T-Mobile.

HTC Smart

While smartphone powerhouses like the Nexus One and the HD2 have stolen the show, HTC quietly announced the Smart. Running on Qualcomm's Brew platform, the Smart has some very smartphone-like capabilities. Like HTC's Android and Windows Mobile phones, the Smart features the Sense user interface, which users can customize to their liking with widgets and shortcuts to their favorite Web sites.

Other features include a 2.8-inch touchscreen, a full HTML browser, and a 3-megapixel camera. The Smart will launch in Europe and Asia in the first half of this year, but HTC did not disclose whether it will come stateside.

Saygus Vphone

Saygus isn't a recognizable name in the mobile world yet, but keep an eye on this rising company's Android-based Vphone. The Vphone features the company's branded video conferencing software. The CDMA Vphone can transfer video data at 18-22 frames per second over EDGE and up to 30 frames per second over 3G.

The Vphone has a 3.5-inch touchscreen, a 5-megapixel camera (in addition to the front-facing video camera), and a full QWERTY keyboard. The phone is a bit on the chunky side, but Saygus said that the Vphone weighs less than the Droid. In my hands-on time, I found the keyboard comfort above and beyond the Droid's; the keys are large and raised with bright backlighting. Pricing and carrier haven't been announced, but the Vphone is currently being tested on Verizon's network.

Samsung Corby

The cute Corby is targeted at younger, socially connected audiences and comes in four fun colors (yellow, white, pink, orange). The full-touch Corby features Samsung's TouchWiz UI, which can be customized with widgets. Users can also access their friend's Twitter and Facebook feeds and update their status with a built-in notification feature. The Corby lets users easily upload pictures snapped with the 2-megapixel camera to Picasa, Flickr, Photobucket, and other sites. Pricing and carrier haven't been announced.

Motorola Backflip

At the AT&T Developer Summit, Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha hinted at a new Android-based Motorola smartphone with "a unique form factor" will be coming to the carrier. Meet the Backflip: Motorola's third Android smartphone. What makes the Backflip standout is its reverse flip QWERTY keyboard as well as a touchpad behind the display.

The Backflip also boasts a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and an LED flash, video capture, 32GB of expandable memory, the full Android HTML browser and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The phone runs on Android 1.5 with Motorola's cloud-based Motoblur user interface. Pricing and carrier haven't been announced, but it is pretty apparent that the Backflip will be headed to AT&T.


A US version of the HTC HD2 has been hotly anticipated since its launch in Europe and Asia last Fall. At the Microsoft keynote, CEO Steve Ballmer announced the Windows Mobile 6.5 phone will be heading to T-Mobile this Spring. The ultra-thin HD2 has gorgeous 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen with multitouch support, and is powered by a speedy 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

Like every other high-end smartphone out there, the HD2 sports a 5-megapixel camera with dual flash, and Stereo Bluetooth support and Wi-Fi connectivity. Pricing and a launch date have not yet been announced.

LG Lotus Elite

Last year's LG Lotus, which looks strikingly like a make-up compact, gains Elite status with a 2.4-inch external touchscreen for e-mail, photo, texts and voice message access. The touchscreen is quite responsive and the menu is simple to navigate.

Open up this square clamshell and you get another 2.4-inch display as well as a full-QWERTY keyboard. The Lotus Elite sports Sprint's One Click user interface, a 2-megapixel camera and video recorder, stereo Bluetooth support and a microSD card slot that supports up to 32GB of external memory. The Lotus Elite will hit Sprint stores January 10 and will cost $100 with a two-year contract.

LG Rumor Touch

If you're familiar with the LG Rumor 2, you can probably guess what's new with the Rumor Touch. That's right, the Rumor Touch now has a 3-inch WQVGA touch display in addition to the slide-out QWERTY keyboard found on the previous versions. The Rumor Touch also has 3G support, which the previous versions were lacking.

The Rumor Touch has a 2-megapixel camera with video capture, a microSD card slot, and Google Search. Targeted at avid social networkers, the interface allows easy photo sharing on Photobucket, Facebook, and MySpace, and direct video upload to YouTube. The Rumor Touch will be available from Sprint on March 14, but a price has not been announced.

LG GW990

Another LG mystery phone is the GW990, which Intel CEO Paul Otellini showed off in his CES keynote. The LG GW990 is based on the Intel Moorestown platform and features a Linux-based Moblin 2.1 operating system.

Larger than your average smartphone, the powerful GW990 sports a 4.8-inch panoramic widescreen with 1024-by-480-pixel resolution. The GW990 supports 3D gaming and HD-quality video, which has got to be stunning on that monster screen. Headed initially for a European release, details regarding an exact launch date, pricing or carrier relationships have not been announced.

LG GT540

LG's second Android phone, the GT540, made a quiet debut on the show floor with little information regarding its availability, specs and price. The stylish, lightweight phone comes in a variety of attractive colors (white, pink, dark gray, and black) with textured backs and chrome finishing. What's notable about the GT540 is that it runs Android 2.0 as well as a few LG branded apps for social networking. The GSM phone will be launched in Europe initially, but LG did not disclose any other details.

Palm Pre Plus

Palm's more interesting announcements at CES were software-related, but the company also made two handset announcements. Appearance-wise, the Pre Plus is nearly identical to the original Pre except Palm nixed the Pre's single hardware button. Like the Pixi (and the Pixi Plus), the Pre Plus has a capacitive touch area below the screen with a light-up bar.

The Pre Plus comes with an inductive back battery cover so you can use the phone with the Touchstone charger out-of-the-box. The Pre Plus will land on Verizon on January 25, but its price has not yet been announced.

Palm Pixi Plus

As as the blogosphere predicted, the Pixi Plus will also come with Wi-Fi connectivity (the original lacked this feature). But other than that, the Pixi Plus is exactly identical to its predecessor. This update fits in nicely with Palm's other big announcement: 3G Mobile Hotspot. Customers will be to use their Pre Plus or Pixi Plus as a 3G Mobile Hotspot, to which they can connect up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices.

Pixi owners can also customize their phone to their liking with a new slew of stylish back covers. The new back covers aren't nearly as inspired as the California Artists Series that debuted with the original Pixi, but they are compatible with the Touchstone inductive charger. The covers will come in pink, blue, green, orange, and black. Like the Pre Plus, the Pixi Plus will debut on Verizon and the end of this month. Pricing for the Pixi Plus or the new back covers have not been announced.

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