Cellular Vendors Shorten The Handset Lifecycle

By Joseph Palenchar On Jan 10 2012 - 6:01am

LAS VEGAS – Shorter product lifecycles driven by faster technology changes are helping drive up sales of cellphones, and here at International CES, handset suppliers will do their best to keep the life cycle short.

“What was once was a long cycle [handset shelf life] has been narrowed to 90 days,” said Kevin Sinclair, CEO of franchise chain Wireless Zone. “If you buy a phone today, within 90 days there will be a better like-same model.”

To do their part to quicken the lifecycle pace, such suppliers as Huawei, LG, Nokia, Pantech, and Sony Ericsson are coming to CES to peddle new products.

LG will show its latest 4G LTE Android smartphone for the Verizon Wireless network, and PanTech will show a new 4G LTE phone and its first tablet, both operating on AT&T’s 4G LTE network.

Details on the other suppliers’ introductions were unavailable at press time.

At the show, dealers will find:

• a growing selection of TVs with dual HDMI/MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) ports that stream HD video and multichannel audio from MHL-equipped smartphones and tablets while charging the portable devices;

• demonstrations by at least two companies of glassesfree 3D technology not just for smartphones’ small-screen displays but also for larger screen tablets; and

• a Bluetooth-equipped watch that displays information from a Bluetooth-connected smartphone.

Here’s what dealers will find:

Blue Sky: The Milan, Italy, company is bringing its Bluetooth- enabled I’m watch to the U.S. from Europe to let Android and iPhone smartphone users view caller ID information, text messages, app data and the like on its 1.54-inch color TFT display with 240 by 240-pixel resolution. The watch also displays Facebook and other social-network notifications, weather forecasts, stock market updates, appointment notifications. Price is a suggested $349.

LG: For the Verizon network, LG is launching the 4G LTE Spectrum, which is similar to the $249 LTE-equipped 4G Nitro launched by AT&T in December but will come with a preloaded app to view an HD version of ESPN Sports Center. The phone uses the Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS and operates in 3G mode in Verizon’s 850/1,900MHz network and in 4G LTE mode in Verizon’s 700MHz network. Price and availability weren’t available at press time.

Like the Nitro, the Spectrum features a 4.5-inch 16:9 HD display with 1,280 by 720-pixel resolution with True HD In- Plane Switching (IPS) display said to be 1.4x sharper than Super AMOLED displays. Pixel density is 329 pixels per inch. The Spectrum also features dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 1080p video capture, DLNA, Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct, HDMI mirroring via MHL, MicroUSB port, 4G hot spot, 8-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and LED flash, 1.3-megapixel front camera for video chats, 4GB embedded memory and included 16GB MicroSD card.

MasterImage 3D: The company will demonstrate 720p glasses-free 3D display technology for a 4.3-inch smartphone display, 7-inch e-reader display, and 10.1-inch tablet display. To date, glasses-free 3D displays that show 720p HD video in 3D form have been available only in smartphones from LG and HTC and not in tablets or e-readers with larger displays. The LG and HTC smartphones have 4.3-inch displays.

MHL Consortium: Smartphones whose high-definition MicroUSB outputs are enhanced with MHL technology are available in such smartphones as the Samsung Galaxy S II, Samsung Infuse, HTC’s Evo 3D and Sensation, the new LG Spectrum launched here at CES, and in the HTC Flyer and Evo 3D View 4G.

Here at CES, some of the first U.S.-market TVs with dual-purpose MHL/HDMI ports will be displayed, joining nine U.S.-market Samsung TVs for which firmware upgrades became available late last year to add MHL technology to their HDMI ports. A total of 23 cellphones worldwide use MHL technology, and many are available in the U.S., the Consortium added.

When an MHL-compatible smartphone or tablet is cable-connected to an MHL-equipped TV, 1080p HD video and 7.1-channel surround sound can be streamed from a phone or tablet to the TV for viewing. The TV’s HDMI port will also charge the portable device. Users can also use their TV’s remote to control the playback of content from any MHL-enabled mobile device.

Adapters are available to connect MHLequipped mobile devices to TVs that lack MHL technology, providing all of the features that MHL enables, the consortium said.

NQ Mobile: The company, formerly NetQin, is a global provider of consumer-oriented mobile Internet services focused on security. At CES, the company is announcing a security suite for Android, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Phone smartphones to protect against malware, privacy and data threats. A security app for Apple iOS devices might also be announced.

Pantech: The company is launching a premium U.S. smartphone and its first U.S. tablet, both of which incorporate 4G LTE and the Android OS. Both will be available this month for use on the AT&T network.

Pantech already offers a 4G LTE phone through Verizon.

The AT&T handset, called the Burst, will be available Jan. 22 in black and red at $49 with two-year contract. It operates in 4G LTE mode in AT&T’s AWS and 700MHz bands and in 4G HSPA+ mode in the carrier’s 850/1,900MHz bands and in international 2.1GHz band. It features 4-inch Super AMOLED 480 by 800-pixel capacitive touchscreen, dual-core 1.2GHz processor, Android Gingerbread 2.3.5 OS, 16GB of embedded memory, MicroSD slot, 720p video capture, 1080p video playback, 5-megapixel rear camera with flash, 2-megapixel front camera and eight-device mobile hotspot.

The tablet, called the Element, became available Jan. 8 at $299 with two-year contract. It’s promoted as waterproof and splash-proof and features capacitive 8-inch touchscreen with a TFT XGA 1,024 by 768 display. It operates in 4G LTE mode in AT&T’s AWS and 700MHz bands and in 4G HSPA+ mode in AT&T’s 850/1,900MHz bands and in foreign 2.1GHz bands. It features a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, Android Honeycomb 3.2 OS, 5-megapixel rear camera with flash and 4x zoom, 2-megapixel front camera for videochats over Wi-Fi, 16GB embedded memory, 32GB MicroSD card slot, stereo Bluetooth720p HD video capture and 1080p playback.

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