Which Phones Generated the Buzz at the CTIA 2011 Show?
Even though Google and Samsung canceled the much-anticipated Android Ice Cream Sandwich event, quite a few enticing phones appeared at the CTIA show this week. New trends included Windows Phone Mango devices, handsets from Chinese manufacturers, and interesting prepaid phones. Read on.
HTC Titan (AT&T)
True to its name, the HTC Titan has an impressive 4.7-inch display. I also like how sharp the Super LCD is--even for its larger size. Powered by a single-core 1.5GHz processor, the Titan ran smoothly during my quick hands-on.
The coolest features in the Titan are the software enhancements in the 8-megapixel camera. It can natively take photos in panoramic mode (which stitches together multiple images into one widescreen shot), and it gives you a Burst Shot mode for capturing fast action. Pricing and availability for the Titan have not been announced, but we're hoping that it will hit shelves in time for the holidays.
Pantech Pocket (AT&T)
In the past, Pantech has released mostly feature phones and messaging non-smartphones on AT&T. The Pantech Pocket, in contrast, not only runs Android 2.3 but also supports AT&T’s HSPA+ network. The 4-inch TFT SVGA display has a 600-by-800-pixel resolution with a 4:3 aspect ratio. The wider display gives the phone the appearance of a very small tablet.
The display quality can’t compete with, say, the looks of Samsung’s Galaxy S II Super AMOLED Plus, but Pantech isn’t exactly trying to compete with such higher-end phones. The Pocket's screen is bright and crisp nevertheless, and the size is ideal for browsing the Web and running apps.
HTC Radar (T-Mobile)
The Radar ships with Windows Phone Mango, Microsoft’s update to its mobile platform. I got a chance to play with the Radar at the show, and was impressed by its design. Like most of the high-end HTC phones out there, it has a solid yet attractive unibody aluminum build.
What makes it stand out, however, is its all-white color scheme. The white hardware is quite striking against the bold colors of Mango. The other notable thing about the Radar is that it is the first Mango phone to support T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 4G network. Pricing and availability have not been announced.
Motorola Atrix 2 (AT&T)
The Motorola Atrix 2, which is obviously the follow-up to the original Atrix, was one of the more intriguing phones at the show. Like the first version, the Atrix 2 has a dual-core processor and supports AT&T’s HSPA+ network.
It sports a slightly larger, 4.3-inch display (the original had a 4-inch screen) with a higher, qHD (960-by-540-pixel) resolution. It can capture 1080p HD video, too, and like the original Atrix it supports the Motorola Lapdock accessory. The Motorola Atrix 2 will cost $100 with a two-year contract from AT&T. --Armando Rodriguez
Huawei Ascend II (Cricket)
The Ascend II runs the Android Gingerbread OS, and carries a 600MHz processor. It has a 3.5-inch HVGA display as well as a 5-megapixel camera. Although the specs aren’t exactly mind-blowing, the phone is quite stylish, with sleek curves and a black-and-white color scheme.
It’s no speed demon, but running a vanilla version of Android Gingerbread (that is, one without a custom-built overlay) seems to keep it running smoothly. This prepaid phone is currently available for $180 with no contract.
On the first day of the show, Huawei--which doesn't have a large presence in the United States--held a press conference to outline its plans to expand in the U.S. mobile market.
Samsung Captivate Glide (AT&T)
Remember the 2010 Samsung Captivate? It’s back, but now with a keyboard and HSPA+ support. The Samsung Captivate Glide runs Android 2.3, sports a 4-inch Super AMOLED display, and runs an Nvidia Tegra 2 1GHz processor.
Also from Samsung is the DoubleTime, which oddly runs the older Android 2.2 OS. With its pink-and-white color scheme and flip-phone design, it seems targeted toward younger users. Unfortunately, the Captivate Glide wasn’t at the show, so I couldn’t give it a test drive. Pricing and availability for both phones have not yet been announced.
Samsung Stratosphere (Verizon)
The Stratosphere is Verizon’s first 4G LTE slide-out keyboard phone. Usually I’m a fan of keyboard phones, but the Stratosphere left me underwhelmed. The keyboard slider mechanism wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked, and the phone's plastic body is a bit on the beefy side.
Aside from those design shortcomings, I found the Stratosphere to be pretty solid. The Super AMOLED 4-inch display looks great, and the single-core 1GHz processor made the phone's interface seem fast and responsive. The Stratosphere runs Android 2.3 with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, which people either love or hate.
The Stratosphere is $150 with a two-year contract, and it will be available in-store and online on October 13.
HTC Sensation XL (Europe and Asia only)
PCWorld loved the original HTC Sensation, so I was excited to get my hands on its sibling, the Sensation XL. Like the Titan, the Sensation XL has a 4.7-inch WVGA display, perfect for watching movies or browsing the Web.
Similar to the HTC Flyer, the Sensation XL has a largely aluminum body with some white accents. The most notable feature of the Sensation XL is that it has Beats audio-optimization software, which greatly enhances sound quality and can detect when you have Beats headphones plugged in for much richer audio. The difference in audio quality is huge when you switch the Beats optimization on and off.
Unfortunately, HTC has no plans to release the Sensation XL--or any rebranded version of it--in the United States. --Armando Rodriguez
Samsung Transfix (Cricket, prepaid phone)
In the past year, other prepaid carriers, such as Boost Mobile and MetroPCS, have stepped up their game and offered more smartphones without contracts, particularly Android-based phones.
The Transfix, one such prepaid phone, has a full-QWERTY slide-out keyboard, which seems to be a trend for Samsung at this show. The Transfix runs Android 2.3, also known as Gingerbread. It has a 3.2-inch touchscreen, a 3.2-megapixel camera, and an 800MHz processor. The Transfix is available now for $180 from Cricket.