NEW ORLEANS –
Smartphone shipment growth slowed in the first quarter, but advances in smartphone technology will accelerate at CTIA Wireless 2012.
Some of the first quad-core smartphones, a growing selection of Android 4.0 smartphones, and smartphones with high-end digital-camera capabilities will turn up at the show following debuts at the Mobile World Congress (MWC). So will new 4G LTE smartphones, thanks to the rollout of LTE by national and regional U.S. carriers.
Here at the CTIA show, analysts expect suppliers to announce U.S. availability of some of the models launched globally at MWC.
In quad-core Android-based smartphones, the industry’s first models include handsets from HTC, Huawei, LG, and ZTE at processor speeds up to 1.5GHz. Android 4.0 phones are also on the way from the four companies, all of which have also unveiled new LTE phones.
More tablets with dual-core processors also turned up at the MWC event and could get distribution announcements here. Such models were unveiled by Samsung and ZTE.
The new-technology activity is picking up at a time when growth in North American smartphone unit shipments slipped to 14 percent in the first quarter compared to full-year 2011 growth of 46 percent, said Strategy Analytics. The company, however, expects smartphone growth rates to accelerate in the second half.
Many North Americans delayed upgrading from feature phones to smartphones in the first quarter because carriers “have been stricter with upgrade incentives, and there were few exciting new releases in the first quarter [compared to the fourth quarter] to drive consumer activity,” explained analyst Alex Spektor. “Smartphone growth should pick up by the second half of the year thanks to anticipated devices like the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the next-generation Apple iPhone.”
At least one U.S. carrier, however, isn’t so sure smartphone sales for its network will pick up. Ralph de la Vega, president/CEO of AT&T Mobility, said during a recent investor’s conference call that he expects flat sales of AT&T-network smartphones this year. That would amount to 25 million smartphones, AT&T chairman/ CEO Randall Stephenson said during the call. New upgrade fees imposed by AT&T in March will contribute to that and “will have a meaningful impact on us in managing handset costs,” Stephenson said in referring to carriers’ smartphone subsidies.
Overall North American cellphone shipments fell 9 percent in the first quarter because of a 33 percent decline in feature-phone shipments, Strategy Analytics said.
Here’s what mobile suppliers plan to show at the convention for the maturing U.S. smartphone market:
The company’s first LTE phones are likely to show up, having turned up at MWC. They include the Ascend P1 LTE with dual-core 1.5GHz processor, Android 4.0 OS, 4.3-inch 960 by 540 touchscreen, MHL-HDMI connection and advanced camera features. Huawei’s second LTE phone unveiled at MWC was the Ascend D LTE, which features dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 4.5-inch HD touchscreen and Android 4.0.
The company’s first two quad-core smartphones could also turn up. They lack LTE but feature Android 4.0, Huaweimade K3V2 quad-core 1.2GHz/1.5GHz processor, and 4G HSPA+ technology. They are the Ascend D quad and D quad XL, both with 4.5-inch 720p HD screen and ability to view content in direct sunlight, the company said.
The first two Android 4.0 phones from the company include the Hydro, which is the company’s first water-resistant smartphone for the U.S. market.
The company is expected to show its expanded lineup of 4G LTE smartphones unveiled at MWC, including LG’s first LTEequipped glasses-free 3D phone which features HSPA+, and a big-screen LTE phone that competes with Samsung’s Galaxy Note hybrid tablet/phone. The new phones also include LG’s first quad-core phone, which is the Android 4.0 Optimus 4X HD with Nvidia’s quad-core 1.5GHz Tegra 3 processor. HSPA+21 technology and True HD IPS 4.7-inch display. The 4-Plus-1 quad-core processor incorporates a fifth battery-saving core for lessdemanding tasks.
China Tech Faith Wireless of Beijing will expand its presence at the show with a broader handset range under the TecFace brand.
GSM/W-CDMA handsets include the Android 2.3 Swift with 5-inch screen, dual SIMs, dual cameras and Wi-Fi. The Titan is a ruggedized water- and shock-resistant smartphone. CDMA EV-DO handsets will include the Android-based Eagle with 3.8-inch touchscreen.
New York-based Unnecto, founded last summer, is launching a quintet of dual-SIM phones, including the Quattro, its first smartphone. All are targeted to the U.S., Canada, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
In the U.S., the company currently sells to rural U.S. carriers but plans to market to tier-one and regional carriers. It also sells unlocked models through online U.S. retailers.
In bringing dual- SIM capability to regions where it not common, Unnecto said its sees potential for sales to frequent international travelers and to others.
Phones introduced at MWC and expected to appear here include the company’s first Android 4.0 smartphones. Two of them incorporate 4G LTE and dual-core processors. A third Android 4.0 phone is the company’s first phone with quad-core processor.