The major carriers took the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week as an opportunity to expose network plans and unveil a boatload of new devices. Here’s a quick snapshot of carrier announcements from the show:
With recent reports from The Wall Street Journal pointing to an iPhone announcement from Verizon Wireless tomorrow, AT&T has every reason to stay on top of its device portfolio. The emphasis this year was on 4G and AT&T announced a couple of new devices that will run on its HSPA+ network, which has been deemed worthy of the 4G label.
Motorola ATRIX 4G: The Atrix smartphone runs on Android 2.2 and comes packing a 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, high-res qHD display, 5-megapixel camera, HD Video capture and playback and Qik video chat. But perhaps the Atrix’s most unique feature is its ability to dock with a laptop or PC. This device is slated for launch in the first quarter of 2011.
HTC Inspire 4G: A 1GHz 2.2. Android smartphone with a 4.3-inch super LCD display, next-gen HTC Sense with cloud services, an 8-megapixel camera and HD video recorder. This device is slated for launch in the first quarter of 2011.
Samsung Infuse 4: AT&T is calling the Infuse its thinnest smartphone at 9mm. The Infuse comes running Android 2.2 on a 1.2 GHz Hummingbird processor. The Infuse’s touchscreen is a 4-5 inch Super AMOLED Plus monster. The phone also features an 8-megapixel camera, HD video capture and playback, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The Infuse will be available sometime during the second quarter of 2011.
HTC FreeStyle: AT&T’s first Brew MP-powered quick messaging device. AT&T says that all of its quick-messaging devices from here on out will be based on Qualcomm’s Brew MP platform.
Tablets: AT&T said it will launch two LTE-capable tablets in the summer of 2011 but gave no specifics on those devices.
Network: AT&T says that it has deployed HSPA+ to virtually 100 percent of its mobile broadband network. Perhaps more significantly, the carrier announced that it will accelerate the rollout of its LTE network build, to be largely complete by year end 2013. AT&T plans to begin its launch of LTE service in mid-2011.
Verizon Wireless came to CES with 38 LTE markets up and running, which necessitated some big device announcements at the show. No one should have left disappointed, especially if reports that an iPhone announcement is coming tomorrow. Things are looking up at Verizon Wireless in 2011.
HTC Thunderbolt: The Thunderbolt is an LTE-capable Android 2.2 smartphone that comes running a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor. It features a 4.3-inch WVGA touchscreen, Skype integration with video calling and a new version of the HTC Sense UI.
LG Revolution: The Revolution features specs similar to those of the Thunderbolt. The LTE-capable Revolution features a 4.3-inch touchscreen, 5-megapixel camera, 1GHz processor and HD video capture and replay.
Samsung 4G LTE smartphone: The Samsung 4G LTE smartphone (name pending) runs Android 2.2 operating system and features a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen display, 1GHz processor, rear-facing 8-megapixel camera with LED flash and front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera.
Motorola Droid Bionic: The Droid Bionic is LTE-capable, comes with a 4.3-inch qHD (540 x 960) display, dual-core 1GHz processor, 512MB of DDR2 RAM, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and front-facing camera for video chat.
Tablets: The star of this year’s Verizon Wireless CES announcements had to be the Motorola Xoom tablet, which comes running the new Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system. The Honeycomb user experience was built specifically for tablets and improves on Android favorites such as widgets, multi-tasking, browsing, notifications and customization and features the latest Google Mobile innovations. The Xoom boasts a dual core processor with each core running at 1 GHz, a 10.1-inch widescreen HD display and front- and rear-facing cameras.
Sprint was perhaps the least visible of the carriers at CES, announcing just one WiMAX-capable smartphone and a high-profile tablet.
HTC Evo Shift: As the 16th WiMAX-capable device from Sprint, the HTC EVO Shift follows in the footsteps of the HTC EVO 4G, adding a sliding qwerty keyboard. The HTC EVO Shift also boasts Android 2.2, a 5-megapixel camera, 720p HD camcorder and a 3.6-inch capacitive touchscreen display with pinch-to-zoom capability.
BlackBerry Playbook: The BlackBerry 4G PlayBook is expected to be available from Sprint in the summer. The new Playbook features the new BlackBerry tablet OS, 1 GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, Wi-Fi, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Adobe Mobile AIR and support for HTML5.
Of all the carriers, T-Mobile USA was the most aggressive at CES in its rhetoric, embracing its self-proclaimed status as a “challenger.” T-Mobile attacked AT&T with some snappy new advertisements and made some pretty fair comparisons between its HSPA+ network and Verizon’s LTE technology. The carrier took CES as an occasion to boast its network and unveil a couple of new tablets.
T-Mobile G-Slate from LG: The T-Mobile G-Slate is HSPA+-capable and comes running Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). Details on the G-Slate were slim, but from demos given at the show, it looks to be a contender. T-Mobile promises pricing and release information to follow in the near future.
Dell Streak 7: Dell followed up its original 5-inch Streak tablet/smartphone with a larger offering, the Dell Streak 7. The Streak 7 is a 7-inch tablet, with a lot of the same features of the original Streak. The Dell Streak 7 will be HSPA+-compatible and boasts Android 2.2, NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 processor, dual cameras front- and rear-facing cameras (5-megapixel rear-facing) and 16 GB internal memory expandable up to 32 GB.
Network: T-Mobile also unveiled plans to double the speed of its HSPA+ network this year, which will be capable of delivering peak theoretical download speeds of up to 42 Mbps. The company said it will launch at least 25 new HSPA+ devices in 2011.
To be sure, the carriers’ announcements played a big part in what could be considered a revival of sorts for CES, after the recession put the show into an attendance slump. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) issued early estimates that put attendance at around 140,000 people, up 11 percent from 126,000 a year ago. CEA conducts an independent audit of attendance at the International CES and final verified figures will be available in the spring.