Quiet CTIA Lets Smaller Phone Brands Stand Out

By Joseph Palenchar On May 21 2012 - 4:01am




NEW ORLEANS – Many of the big names in cellphones were absent from the main show floor, but that enabled smaller brands to stand out at CTIA Wireless 2012.

Handset vendors such as Motorola and Research In Motion (RIM) didn’t put in an appearance, and companies such as Samsung and Nokia appeared only in small meeting rooms off to the side of the main exhibit space.

For their part, HTC, LG, Huawei and ZTE largely displayed products shown at the Mobile World Congress and didn’t announce U.S. plans for those models.

That let such companies as Doro, Plum Mobile, Unnecto and Alcatel One Touch (see story on p. 122) garner a greater share of attention from show goers.

Here’s what these and other suppliers unveiled at the show:

AT&T expanded its selection of 4G LTE Windows Phone smartphones with the $49.99 Samsung Focus 2, which became available May 20 to join the carrier’s two other LTE Windows smartphones, the $99.99 Nokia Lumia 900 and $199.99 HTC Titan II. All use the Windows Phone 7.5 OS.

The Focus 2 is Samsung’s first 4G LTE Windows Phone, and AT&T is the only U.S. carrier to date offering LTE-based Windows Phones, said Jeff Bradley, AT&T Mobility’s devices senior VP.

The 0.43-inch-thick, 4.3-ounce phone features a 4-inch Super AMOLED screen, 1.4GHz processor and 5-megapixel camera. The phone also features 720p video capture, front-facing VGA camera, hands-free messaging via speech-to-text and text-to-speech conversion. Another feature is a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot to connect up to five Wi-Fi devices to the AT&T network.

Like AT&T’s other Windows phones, the Focus 2 also features 4G HSPA+21 technology so that data speeds don’t slow dramatically to 3G speeds when used outside on of AT&T’s current 35 LTE markets.

Doro, the Swedish supplier of cellphones designed for seniors, unveiled its first baby-boomer smartphone and talked up plans to expand distribution to tier-one carriers in North America.

The 3G Android-based smartphone is the Doro PhoneEasy 740 with touchscreen and slide-down dialing keypad. The phone is loaded with Doro Experience software to provide a straightforward user interface, large icons and applications selected especially for seniors, including health and news apps, the company said. The software, which can be installed on any Android or Windows smartphone or tablet, also enables remote assistance over the web from family members.

The phone is targeted to baby-boomer seniors interested in new technology, whereas older seniors are targeted with easy-to-use feature phones, the company said.

Other PhoneEasy 740 features include slide-down dialing keypad emergency button with GPS location, 5-megapixel camera with camera light, extra-loud sound and high-contrast display for easier reading.

The quadband GSM, 850/2100MHz W-CDMA phone also features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, MicroSD card slot, compass and accelerometer.

As for future distribution plans, CEO Jerôme Arnaud said the company “expect[s] to deliver a broader range of products to all top-tier mobile carriers in the U.S. and Canada as part of our North American expansion plans.”

HTC added 4G LTE and a faster processor to its Droid Incredible for Verizon Wireless. HTC also displayed its HTC One V for the first time in the U.S. Both phones use the Android 4.0 OS.

The Incredible offers a 4-inch display, 8-megapixel rear camera, and mobile hot spot like its 3G Android predecessor but adds 4G LTE and dual-core 1.2GHz processor, replacing a single-core 1GHz processor. It also upgrades the OS to Android 4.0 and features the latest generation of HTC’s Sense user interface, Sense 4.0.

Other enhancements include the extension of Beats Audio audio-enhancement technology beyond phonestored music to all music and audio applications, and it gets Nearfield Communications (NFC), which can be used with Android Beam to share web pages, apps, contacts and YouTube videos by tapping two compatible phones together.

The Droid Incredible 4G LTE will be available to Verizon subscribers in the coming weeks at a price that wasn’t announced.

For its part, the HTC One V is positioned as having “broad appeal” and will be available this summer through a variety of U.S. carriers. Earlier this year, the company said it would be available from C-Spire, Cincinnati Bell, MetroPCS, U.S. Cellular and Virgin Mobile.

The One V features a 3.7-inch screen, 1GHz processor, aluminum unibody, HTC Sense 4 user interface, and a suite of upgraded camera capabilities that are also included in the step-up One X and One S.

Huawei brought its LTE-equipped Ascend D and P1 and 10-inch MediaPad FHD tablet, all shown at the Mobile World Congress with Android 4.0 OS. No U.S. plans were announced.

The Ascend P1 LTE features a dual-core 1.5GHz processor and 4.3-inch Super AMOLED qHD 960 by 540 touchscreen. The Ascend D LTE features a dual-core 1.5GHz processor and 4.5-inch HD touchscreen.

The tablet has Huawei’s proprietary K3 1.5GHz quadcore processor and HD display with 1,920 by 1,200 resolution. It has 4G HSPA+ cellular data at speeds up to 84Mbps but will also support other wireless-network standards such as 4G LTE, Huawei said.

LG brought its hybrid Vu phone/tablet with 5-inch 4:3 screen and stylus, the Optimus 4X HD quad-core phone with quad-core processor and HSPA+ technology, and the Optimus 3D Max with 4G LTE to the show following their debut at the Mobile World Congress. No U.S. plans were announced.

The Optimus 3D Max is LG’s first LTE-equipped 3D phone.

PCD unveiled the Pantech Verse TXT8045 messaging phone, a 2G phone with slide-down QWERTY keyboard. It became available on the U.S. Cellular network on May 11 at $29.99 after $50 mail-in rebate.

The Pantech Verse features a vertical slider QWERTY keyboard, 2.4-inch QVGA display, 2-megapixel camera/ camcorder, music player, external speaker, stereo Bluetooth, MicroSD slot supporting 32GB cards and no Wi-Fi.

Plum Mobile, the cellphone brand launched only 1.5 years ago, brought its first tablets to CTIA Wireless 2012.

The company is owned by CLC Miami, a distributor of AT&T and T-Mobile phones to retailers for 20 years. Plum, which initially marketed dual-SIM phones to Latin America and select European countries, is now targeting the U.S. market, said CLC chief financial officer Yamiletz Nunez.

Plum’s tablets are the 7-inch Debut and 5-inch Might, both providing traditional circuit-switched cellular calls via built-in speaker and microphone. Both feature capacitive touchscreen that can be used with a stylus, and both feature dual SIM card slots.

The Debut is an Android 2.2 model upgradable to 4.0. It features 800MHz processor, Wi-Fi and 3G HSDPA 7.2 cellular data technology. It operates in GSM/EDGE and HSDPA mode in the U.S. 850/1900MHz bands and foreign 900/1800MHz bands. A 3G CDMA version for U.S. 850/1900MHz bands is also in the world.

The 5-inch Might features quadband GSM/EDGE and 3G HSDPA 7.2 operation in the U.S. 850/1900MHz bands and in the foreign 2.1GHz band.

The Might’s features include 650MHz processor, Wi-Fi and Android 2.3.6 OS.

Additional details were unavailable.

ZTE displayed its V96 LTE Android tablet and flagship Era Android phone for the first time in the U.S. at CTIA, where the company promoted plans to bring a full series of 4G LTE devices to the U.S. in 2012. U.S. plans for the devices weren’t announced.

The quad-core Era, shown at the Mobile World Congress in March, features HSPA+ technology, quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 1.3GHz AP30 chipset, Android 4.0, 4.3- inch qHD 960 by 540 pixels display, 8-megapixel camera and MHL port.

The V97 tablet, also shown at the Congress, features Android 4.0 OS, 4G HSPA+42Mbps and 4G LTE technology, dual-core 1.7GHz processor, and 10.1-inch 800 by 1280-pixel multi-touch touchscreen.

“ZTE will dramatically expand its smart device capabilities and heighten its brand awareness in the United States in 2012,” said He Shiyou, executive VP and head of the company’s terminal handset division.

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