4G LTE Gets Cellular Focus At International CES

By Joseph Palenchar On Jan 23 2012 - 6:01am

LAS VEGAS — Carriers and handset vendors unveiled at least 13 4G LTE smartphones and two LTE tablets at International CES in anticipation of an LTE network launch by Sprint and continued expansion of AT&T’s LTE network as the two national carriers race to catch up with Verizon’s LTE footprint.

The introductions, all featuring the Android OS, included:

• the first LTE phone from Pantech (see TWICE, Jan 10), Nokia, Sony and Huawei;

• four new LTE phones from Samsung, including the Galaxy Note Android smartphone, promoted as the world’s first smartphone with 5.3-inch display and described as a cross between a tablet and smartrphone;

• two new LTE phones from LG, one for Verizon and one for Sprint; and

• three new Motorola LTE phones, all in Verizon’s Droid franchise and including a model promoted as the thinnest 4G LTE QWERTY smartphone announced to date.

Multiple models will come with the Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) OS, and others will be upgradable to 4.0. Multiple models features 1,280 by 720 HD displays.

Also for LTE networks, Pantech launched its first tablet (see TWICE, Jan. 10, p. 120), and Samsung unveiled the 7.7-inch Galaxy Tab. The new Tab, whose pricing and availability weren’t announced, is the company’s first tablet with 7.7-inch screen.

Some of the LTE devices will find a home at Sprint, which is transitioning from 4G mobile WiMAX service to LTE. Sprint, which plans to offer around 15 4G LTE devices in 2012, will launch 4G LTE service in the first half in select markets.

Other handsets are designed for AT&T’s LTE network, which expanded early this year to bring the carrier’s LTE footprint to 26 markets with a population of 74 million people. The carrier expects LTE deployment to be “largely complete” by the end of 2013.

Here’s what dealers found:

LG: One of two new LTE phones is the LTE Spectrum for Verizon (see TWICE, Jan. 10). The Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) phone became available Jan. 19 at $199. Features not previously disclosed include 4.3- inch 1,280 by 720 HD display, dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 8-megapixel camera and global roaming to be activated later in the year.

Nokia: The company’s first 4G LTE Windows Phone, the Lumia 900, will be available exclusively on the AT&T network in the coming months.

AT&T will be the first U.S. carrier to offer 4G LTE Windows phones, and the Nokia Lumia 900 “is one of those,” said AT&T Mobility president/CEO Ralph de la Vega.

The phone was designed specifically for the North American market in close partnership with AT&T to deliver a “rich media experience,” said Nokia president/ CEO Stephen Elop.

Features that will deliver that experience include rear- and front-facing cameras and a 4.3-inch display.

Samsung: Big screens are in fashion on two of three new Android 4G LTE smartphones made by Samsung for the AT&T network.

The Galaxy Note smartphone, based on the Android Gingerbread 2.3 phone OS, is promoted as the world’s first smartphone with 5.3-inch display. It’s described as a cross between a tablet and smartrphone. It comes with included S Pen that lets users make handwritten notes and drawings on documents and pictures. Pricing and availability haven’t been announced.

The other big-screen phone is the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket HD, a 0.36-inch phone with 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED (1,280 by 720) screen.

The third new LTE phone is the Exhilarate, said to be the first 4G LTE smartphone built to meet multiple environmental and sustainability standards. It comes with 4-inch Super AMOLED display at less than $50.

The Skyrocket HD and Exhilarate are due in the coming months. No availability date for the Note was announced.

The Note, which features 1.4GHz dual-core processor, is promoted as the world’s first smartphone with proprietary Super AMOLED Plus display, which delivers a wider range of colors and greater contrast than competing display technologies, the company said. Screen resolution is HD 1280x800.

The Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket HD features 4.65-inch Super AMOLED 1,280 by 720 screen and 1.5GHz dual-core processor.

Sony: The company’s first 4G LTE smartphone, the Xperia Ion, will be available exclusively for use on the AT&T network in the second quarter.

The device features Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) OS, large 4.6-inch HD display (1,280 by 720 pixels) incorporating Sony Mobile Bravia video engine, and 12-megapixel rear camera with Sony Exmor R technology to go from standby to first shot in less than two seconds. It also features 1080p video capture through the rear camera, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, HD video sharing via DLNA and HDMI output, and PlayStation certification.

Sprint: The carrier unveiled its first three LTE devices. They are the Samsung-made Galaxy Nexus based on the Android 4.0 OS, the eco-friendly LG Viper, and the Sierra Wireless Tri-Network Hotspot, which operates in Sprint’s 3G, 4G WiMAX, and 4G LTE networks.

The carrier declined to reveal pricing or availability of the products, but it did release limited specifications. The LG Viper 4G LTE, for example, features Android Gingerbread OS, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, VGA front-facing camera, 4-inch WVGA display and DLNA.

Verizon Wireless: The carrier is expanding its Droid franchise with three Motorola-made models.

The Droid 4 is promoted as the thinnest 4G LTE QWERTY smartphone to date. The other two Droids include a purple-color version of the current 4G LTE Droid Razr, which is already available in black and white, and the new 0.35-inch-thick Razr Maxx, which is slightly larger than the svelte 0.28-inch–thick Razr but extends talk time to 21 hours and comes with 32GB of memory vs. the Razr’s 16GB.

All three will be available in the coming weeks with Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread) OS, but all are upgradable to Android 4.0.

The Droid 4 offers 4-inch qHD display, dual-core 1.2 GHz processor, and five-row QWERTY keyboard with edge-lit keys for typing in the dark.

Droid 4 pricing wasn’t announced, but the purple Droid Razr will be $199, and the Razr Maxx will be $299.

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