Superphones Move To Forefront At CTIA

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ORLANDO, FLA. –

Smartphones with dual-core processors, 3D video capture and playback, 4G cellular data, and touchscreens measuring at least 4 inches captured the attention of attendees here at the CTIA convention.

At least five U.S.-market smartphones unveiled at the show fell within the emerging superphone category to join such models as the HTC ThunderBolt for Verizon Wireless, HTC EVO 4G for Sprint, and Motorola’s Droid X for Verizon Wireless, and LG’s planned 4G version of the Galaxy S for T-Mobile.

Suppliers define superphones as offering a minimum 1GHz processor, minimum 4-inch screen size, lots of embedded memory, and enhanced features, sometimes including 720p 3D video capture.

The show also played host to more phones with 2D 1080p video capture, the introduction of some not-sosuper smartphones, and new 4G USB modems and 4G mobile hot spots.

Sales of big-screen superphones have taken off in recent months, and at least one supplier, LG Mobile Phones, plans to put all of its consumer advertising dollars into promoting its superphones in 2011.

Sales of phones with screens of at least 4 inches have grown quickly to account for 24 percent of smartpohone sales to consumers in the fourth quarter of 2010, The NPD Group’s Mobile Phone Track survey of adult consumers found. The survey excludes sales to corporations and enterprises.

The market share of smartphones with screens smaller than 3.4 inches fell from 63 percent in 2009’s fourth quarter to 36 percent in 2010’s fourth quarter.

 “The explosion in web and video content available for smartphones has caused consumers to rethink their phones’ sizes,” said Ross Rubin, NPD’s industry analysis executive director. “Larger displays offer a richer media experience, as well as a roomier surface for onscreen keyboards.”

Leading superphone introductions at CTIA included the Android-based 3G/4G HTC Evo 3D for Sprint. It features 720p 3D video capture and is touted as the industry’s first phone with 1.2GHz dual-core processor.

Another 3D superphone was LG’s Android Thrill for AT&T. Formerly known as the Optimus 3D when launched at the Mobile World Congress, the Thrill features dual-core 1GHz processor, 4.3-inch screen, and the 3D capabilities of the HTC Evo 3D.

Other superphones launched at the show were LG’s Android-based 3G/4G G2x for T-Mobile, LG’s Android-based 3G/4G Revolution for Verizon Wireless, and HTC’s Windows Phone7- based HD7S for AT&T.

For its part, Nokia launched a new Symbianbased smartphone that didn’t fall into the superphone category.

Here’s a closer look at the new superphones:

HTC:

A 3D-equipped Android smartphone and a Windows Phone 7 smartphone were the company’s two key phone introductions.

The Android 2.3-based Evo 3D, due on the Sprint 3G/4G network in the summer at an unannounced price, is HTC’s and Sprint’s first 3Dequipped phone announced to date. The Evo 3D and the upcoming HTC-made Evo View tablet will expand Sprint’s selection of 4G devices to 22.

The Evo 3D is said to be the world’s first announced phone with 1.2GHz dual-core processor and first with asynchronous processing. “It is the most powerful smartphone announced to date,” said Sprint product development head Fared Adib. Asynchronous processing delivers power savings, faster app response, and faster app launching, Adib said.

The Evo 3D is also promoted as the world’s first phone with 4.3-inch QHD (quarter high-definition) display and world’s first 3D phone with 4G cellular, in contrast to what Sprint CEO Dan Hesse called the “faux G” of rival carriers using HSPA+ technology.

The Evo 3D features dual 5-megapixel rearfacing cameras that capture video in 720p 3D and 1080p 2D. User-captured videos as well as movies, games and maps can be displayed in glasses-free 3D on the phone’s screen. Via HDMI output or DLNA/Wi-Fi, the 3D video can also be displayed on a 3D TV.

Movies in 2D and 3D can be downloaded via the Blockbuster On Demand app for rent or purchase.

The Evo 3D at 6 ounces ships with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) OS, which, among other things, improves battery life.

Other features include 1730mAh battery, GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and mobile Wi-Fi hot spot capability, which links up to eight Wi-Fi devices at a time to the Internet via Sprint’s network.

The Evo 3D also features 1GB RAM, 4GB of embedded memory and included 8GB MicroSD card. The slot accepts 32GB cards, too.

For consumers interested in the Windows Phone 7 OS, the HTC HD7S is due in the coming weeks on AT&T’s network. It will feature the largest display of any Windows Phone 7 smartphone in the carrier’s portfolio, and it will expand the carrier’s Windows Phone 7 selection to four models.

The HD7S features 4.3-inch WVGA super LCD display, 1GHz processor and 5-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash, among other features and will include the latest Windows Phone software, which offers such new features as the ability to copy and paste text.

The HD7S is preloaded with AT&T’s U-verse Mobile application, enabling qualifying AT&T Uverse TV subscribers to download and watch TV shows on the Windows Phone. Non-U-verse customers can get U-verse Mobile for $9.99 a month and choose from a broad selection of programming.

LG Mobile Phones:

In 3D phones, the company launched the Thrill 4G, unveiled at the Mobile World Congress as the Optimus 3D. It will be available in the coming months as an AT&T exclusive.

The Android 2.2-based Thrill is outfitted with a 4.3-inch WVGA display, dual-core 1GHz OMAP4 processor and 5-megapixel dual-lens camera that enables users to capture photos and videos in 720p 3D and in 2D 1080p. Other features include DLNA certification and HDMI 1.4 output to share 3D content with 3D TVs.

User-captured 3D video can also be shared on You- Tube’s dedicated 3D channel (

YouTube.com/3D

).

Users can navigate through the phone’s interface via a 3D Hot Key that presents five 3D-dedicated user interfaces, including Gallery, Camera, Game&Apps, YouTube 3D and 3D Guide.

Other features include 8GB onboard memory and additional included 8GB MicroSD card.

Among new 2D smartphone, the LG-made G2x 4G phone is due in the spring for the T-Mobile network. It features dual-core 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, 1080p/24 fps video capture, Android 2.2 OS, 4-inch 400 by 800 capacitive touchscreen, 8-megapixel camera/ camcorder, front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video chat, HDMI output with HDMI mirroring, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, MicroUSB 2.0 and a MicroSDHC card slot supporting 32GB cards.

For the Verizon network, LG plans its first phone for the carrier’s 700MHz 4G LTE network. The 3G/4G Revolution, demonstrated in prototype form, will feature a 4.3-inch, WVGA capacitive LCD touchscreen, 1GHz single-core processor, Android 2.2 OS, eight-device mobile hot spot, 16GB of embedded memory, MicroSD card slot for an additional 32GB of memory, 720p HDMI output, DLNA certification, 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash and 720p video capture, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video chats, and Google Voice voice control. The phone is capable of delivering video chats over 3G and 4G data and over Wi-Fi.

The device supports IP-based voice over LTE data in preparation for Verizon’s planned implementation of capacity- expanding IP-based voice services over LTE.

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