Last year we saw the groundbreaking Samsung Galaxy S and HTC EVO 4G take stage front and center. Just for a year the development cycle of phones and tablets shrank dramatically, and, despite the fact we already had two big shows with exciting announcements - CES in January and MWC in February - March will be seeing another batch of groundbreaking slates and smartphones that will round up what's coming down the pipe at least until the end of the summer. Next year the show is in mid-May, but this year we are seeing all the big announcements and events clustered in the first three months. Let's rank the ones that are likely to create the biggest splash at CTIA 2011 for us gadget lovers:
The carrier was saving itself both at CES and MWC, so we are expecting it to explode at the CTIA show. Right now the most exciting phones in its lineup are the year old HTC EVO 4G, and the Samsung Epic 4G. The EVO 4G started a cult following, as it was the first phone with a huge screen and 4G, and this year an heir is expected - the HTC EVO 3D, which might be the leaked HTC Shooter codename. If that rumor is to be believed, we are looking at a large screen, possibly 4.3" with qHD resolution of 540x960 pixels, dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon chipset, and some sort of 3D screen overlay and/or stereoscopic rear camera.
Sounds yummy, but that's not all Sprint has in store for us. It could also lift the veil over something named HTC EVO View, which, rumor has it, is the intriguing HTC Flyer tablet with Sprint radio frequencies. Watch a video presentation of the HTC Flyer we grabbed at the MWC last month:
Last, but not least, Sprint is preparing to launch its own version of the Nexus S, with 4G connectivity, which means Sprint customers might be able to take advantage of whatever Google and Verifone are cooking in terms of NFC mobile payment in their pilot projects in New York and San Francisco.
T-Mobile has been steadily updating its Android stable throughout the year since the last CTIA, and now it probably has the best Android portfolio of the major carriers. It's starting to lag in the dual-core area, though, behind AT&T, which already has the ATRIX 4G, so we are expecting an LG G2X announcement, the US version of the LG Optimus 2X, the first ever dual-core phone with Tegra 2 CPU that made it to market.
T-Mobile might also announce the availability of the 3D-enabled G-Slate tablet, which, according to the latest info, should be in stores around April 20th, together with the LG G2X.
Nokia is preparing a Symbian push for the US market, and will have an event at the CTIA 2011, but it's almost certain that one of the handsets to be its Trojan Horses in the US is going to be the Nokia Astound, a version of the Nokia C7, which might start at the decent $79.99 come April 6th. Decent, since it offers free voice-guided offline navigation in a slim package, despite that it's running Symbian^3, which is not the most popular of them mobile OSes.
A far-flung idea is that T-Mobile could also say it will be carrying the LG Optimus 3D, based solely on the fact that we still don't know which US carrier will embrace the first 3D smartphone, and T-Mobile has traditionally strong ties with LG. The smartphone awards at the CTIA will go to five handsets, of which three are LG phones, and only one has been already named as the LG Revolution, so this leaves the field open for the other two to be the above-mentioned LG G2X, and the LG Optimus 3D. Watch out experience with the Optimus 3D below:
HTC Pyramid, renderings of which leaked not long ago. Again, we are looking at the first phone with the third generation dual-core Snapdragon chipset on 1.2GHz, and a 4.3" display with resolution of 540x960 pixels. Sounds very exciting, despite that some test version benchmarks reveal it's not going to beat the other dual-core silicon - Tegra 2 and OMAP4, but we will spare judgment until we get our hands on an HTC Pyramid at CTIA 2011.
Besides the above mentioned HTC Pyramid/HTC Shooter/HTC EVO 3D, which might be a variation of one and the same handset with large qHD display and 3rd generation dual-core Snapdragon chipset, HTC could unveil Windows Phone 7 devices too. The recently leaked HTC Ignite and HTC Prime codenames seem to share identical specs, but the Prime adds a chiclet-style physical keyboard to the mix. Other than that both are rumored to have 3.7" displays, 1GHz Snapdragons, 512MB of RAM, and 5MP cameras with LED flash. Still, they look classy and these chassis seem made of metal, so we are looking forward to the second crop of Windows Phone 7 devices from HTC, which should ship with the newest OS update, a video preview of which is here.
One of the most anticipated announcements is coming not from a carrier, but from a manufacturer. Samsung reportedly planned to go back to the drawing board after seeing how slim Apple managed to make the iPad 2 tablet, but should be announcing a Slim Jim of its own at the CTIA 2011.
This rumored tablet might be a version of the Samsung Tab 10.1, but could easily be named Tab 8.9, since this is precisely the screen size it will sport. What else is in store for us with the newest Samsung tablet remains to be seen in the next leaks, or at the Samsung event on March 22nd, which we will cover live. Here's Samsung's teaser for the event:
There are many more themes and events to look forward to at the CTIA 2011 wireless industry trade show, and a lot of them connected with the magic of 4G. Expect thorough coverage of the event from PhoneArena, and refresh often next week when the festivities start.