CTIA 2012: Latest News in Mobile Phones and Tablets

May 4 05:22

CTIA 2012 Preview: New Phones, More Debate Over Spectrum

CTIA 2012 in New Orleans starts May 8.
CTIA 2012 in New Orleans starts May 8.
CTIA 2012 kicks off next week in the Big Easy, and PCWorld will be at the show to bring you all the latest mobile news from New Orleans.

Unlike Mobile World Congress (MWC) or even the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), CTIA is more of a U.S.-focused gathering for the wireless industry. Here's what we know so far.

Some New Phones

Samsung Galaxy S III
Samsung Galaxy S III
With a lack of press conferences from the major handset makers, we're unlikely to see any flagship phones launching at CTIA this year. Samsung just announced its Galaxy S III phone, after all. We probably won’t encounter U.S.-branded Galaxy S III phones quite yet; those are expected to debut this summer, but no exact dates have been given.

A clutch of interesting HTC phones, such as the HTC One X and the HTC Titan II, have already come out this year, but you can expect even more from the Taiwanese handset maker.

4G LTE at CTIA 2012
The HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE, for example, briefly appeared on Verizon’s site, but quickly disappeared. Luckily, a few blogs caught screenshots before Verizon could take the specs list down; the Droid Incredible 4G LTE reportedly has a 1.2GHz processor, a 4-inch Super LCD screen, and 1GB of RAM. Another model, the HTC EVO 4G LTE, is scheduled to make its debut on May 7.

Huawei, Kyocera, LG, and ZTE all have booths on the show floor, so we might see a few new phones, or phones that were announced at CES or MWC and now have U.S. and carrier branding. Two new companies that specialize in inexpensive handsets--Plum and Unnecto--also will be present.

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On the flip side, many of the major handset makers and companies will be absent from the show. Neither RIM nor Sony will attend the show. Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, and Samsung won’t have booths, nor will Sprint. And Apple will not be at CTIA either--but that’s no surprise.

Where Are the Tablets?

At last year’s CTIA, we saw a number of new tablets introduced, in conjunction with carriers. This time around, the tablet rumor mill has been suspiciously quiet. Most likely, we may hear of a carrier launching one of the many tablets already introduced at CES 2012 or Mobile World Congress.

Asus Transformer Pad TF300
Asus Transformer Pad TF300
Many of those tablets--such as the Acer Iconia Tab A200 and Iconia Tab A510, the Asus Transformer Pad TF300, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0--have already launched individually as Wi-Fi-only models, but none have been announced with mobile broadband service.

Some manufacturers appear to be sitting out the tablet wars for now. HTC, which hit it big at last year’s CTIA with the Sprint EVO View 4G/HTC Flyer, appears to be taking a break from the tablet game, as the company hasn't announced a new tablet since last year’s model.

Samsung already announced that its next Galaxy Tab 2, the 10.1-inch version, will ship May 11. But we’ve not heard any hint of what’s happening with a U.S. launch for Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 since it debuted at MWC in February.

The Great Spectrum Debate

Jim Cramer of 'Mad Money'
Jim Cramer of 'Mad Money'
The CEOs of the Big Four carriers--Ralph de la Vega of AT&T, Dan Hesse of Sprint, Philipp Humm of T-Mobile, and Dan Mead of Verizon--will sit down with Jim Cramer of CNBC's Mad Money show for a roundtable discussion.

Will the gloves come off over spectrum availability? The Big Four carriers have all lobbied for more spectrum--the government-issued radio waves that carry your texts and phone calls from your phone to someone else's. The discussion between the CEOs of T-Mobile and Verizon should be especially interesting, as T-Mobile attempted to block Verizon’s proposal to purchase unused mobile spectrum from four cable companies.

Sprint might also officially announce the timing for its 4G LTE rollout. The carrier previously declared that initially it will be launching LTE in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, and San Antonio.

CTIA officially starts on Tuesday, May 8. Right now the rumor mill is quiet regarding new phones and tablets, but shows always hold a few surprises. The news will start flooding in on Monday, the day before the show opens. Check for all of the latest news and hands-on impressions of new mobile technology from CTIA 2012.

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May 7 10:35

Verizon's HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE Makes its Debut

HTC and Verizon kicked off CTIA 2012 in New Orleans with the arrival of the HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE. This is the third member of the Droid Incredible family, after the Droid Incredible 2 and the original Droid Incredible.

According to Verizon, the Droid Incredible 4G will be available in the next few weeks, but pricing has not yet been announced.

As the name implies the Droid Incredible 4G LTE hooks into Verizon’s 4G LTE network. It has a 4-inch Super LCD display with a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor. It also has a microSD slot, which supports up to 32GB of memory.

While the Droid Incredible 4G LTE has many specs similar to HTC’s One line of phones (which includes the One X, One S and One V), this is one big difference. Those phones don’t have expandable memory.

The Incredible 4G also runs Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), the latest version of Android with the HTC Sense 4.0 user interface. We saw HTC Sense 4.0 on both the HTC One X and the HTC One S and had some mixed feelings about it in our reviews. While HTC Sense adds some nice aesthetics to Android, the animations and widgets can feel a bit busy and overloaded at times. My colleague Armando Rodriguez also noticed that it slowed down Android 4.0 in his review of the HTC One X.

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May 7 03:38

Samsung Focus 2: First Impressions of a $50 Windows Phone

AT&T's Samsung Focus 2 Windows Phone
AT&T and Samsung Monday showcased the latest Windows Phone, the Samsung Focus 2, in an old colonial mansion in New Orleans’ Garden District during CTIA 2012.

But you don’t have to be a part of the upper crust to own this phone: The Focus 2 will be $50 with a new two-year contract with AT&T. The smartphone will be available starting on May 20.

The Focus 2’s glossy, all-white design contrasts nicely with Windows Phone’s bright, bold colors. The phone is quite thin and light (about 0.43 inches thick), though it feels a bit on the plasticky side. Its 4-inch Super AMOLED screen might seem small in comparison to some of the giant phones we’ve seen (like the gargantuan Samsung Galaxy Note, for example), but the display is large enough for comfortably browsing the Web and running apps.

The 5-megapixel camera on the Focus 2 takes decent pictures, although I noticed that the flash completely blew out the details of my photos. You can also record up to 720p HD video (not 1080p, however; only dual-core phones can support that resolution).

The Metro interface on the Samsung Focus 2 Windows phone
The Samsung Focus 2 runs on AT&T’s 4G LTE network, which was quite speedy here in New Orleans. Like all Windows Phones, the Focus 2 comes with Microsoft Office Mobile, SkyDrive (cloud storage), XBox Mobile, Bing Search, and other Microsoft apps. Performance-wise, the Focus ran smoothly in my test without any stalls or freezing.

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