Best phones of CES 2011: Editor's Pick
For yet another year, the CES expo has come, and while it's not gone yet, all important announcements have already taken place, leaving us with a dozen of awesome smartphones that will present the best the industry has to offer at least during the next several months. With so many new offerings, we decided it would be best if we dedicate an article to the very best among these new arrivals. So, without further ado, we'd like to present you our top picks from this year's CES...
Big Red had a big event yesterday with lots of ThunderBolts and noise, but no wonder – just a month ago Verizon's 4G LTE network went live and it is expanding rapidly. Good as it is, we are still waiting for the hardware to run on it. Well, the first phones are here! Ladies and gents, please welcome the HTC ThunderBolt, which is supposed to be the first 4G Verizon phone with 1GHz Snapdragon CPU and a 4.3 inch screen. The phone will hit shelves in the first quarter.
But probably the biggest announcement was made a day earlier with the Motorola DROID BIONIC. A dual-core powerhouse with the latest treatment from NVIDIA's Tegra 2 processor clocked at 1GHz. Combine this with an awesome 540 x 960 pixel resolution for the 4.3-inch screen, and we won't blame you if you think this is CES's greatest announcement. The only feature where the DROID Bionic could have delivered more is the amount of RAM – but even with 512 MB of memory, we are confident that the performance will be top-notch as the module is DDR2. Unfortunately, the DROID Bionic is expected a bit later, in the second quarter of 2011.
The LG Revolution is the next addition to the company's 4G LTE offerings. Featuring a 4.3", 480 x 800 pixels resolution screen, the Revolution may not be revolutionary, but it's still downright spectcular. Although not equipped with a Tegra 2 chipset, we're pretty confident that the 1GHz Qualcomm processor inside will be good enough for most of the tasks you'd like it to undertake.
Samsung's Big Red 4G bid is the 4.0-inch Samsung 4G LTE smartphone. The oh so creatively
named handset, also known by its romantic “SCH-i520” nickname,
packs some muscle just like the others. However, it is not the 1GHz
CPU what makes it shine, but rather the gorgeous 4.3” Super AMOLED
Plus display, which presents the next iteration of Samsung's brilliant screen technology.
Overall, Big Red welcomes the dual-core era with the Motorola DROID Bionic and definitely ups the screen size game on its high-end offerings – all of the devices come with a 4.3-inch screen. With such phones and a rapidly growing high-speed network, Verizon is definitely the direction to look at it in the coming months.
With the menace of a possible upcoming Verizon iPhone very, very soon, AT&T might need to look deeper into diversification. The carrier is in a close race with Big Red for the title of being the biggest U.S. carrier, but did it unveil something accordingly big on the smartphone part? Well, it was not big. It was huge. It was the stupefying Motorola ATRIX 4G, which stole the show at CES and gave us a sneak peak at what the smartphone future might look like. As if the dual-core sweetness of NVIDIA Tegra 2 clocked at 1GHz and paired with the respectful 1GB of DDR2 RAM was not enough, the Motorola ATRIX 4G pushed things further with its docking capabilities. The phone docks into the back and powers up an 11.6 inch laptop-like chassis with a full QWERTY keyboard. Take a look at our hands-on with the phone and its amazing laptop dock and HD dock to experience the full wow factor. The phone has a 4-inch screen with a resolution of 540 x 960 pixels and is coming in the first quarter of the year.
And if you thought 4-inch and 4.3-inch screens were kind of big, wait until you see the AT&T-flavored Samsung Infuse 4G. The phone comes with the biggest screen we have seen so far with 4.5-inches and you will love the colors on it as it comes with Super AMOLED Plus tech, providing 50 per cent higher pixel sub count. What this means is improved legibility and brightness. The CPU powering the HSPA+ 4G show in the Infuse 4G is a 1.2 GHz Hummingbird chip. You will have to wait until the second quarter to see it in its full glory, but it seems it will be worth the wait.
Last on the AT&T front is the HTC Inspire 4G. Our guess places it on par with the European HTC Desire HD, but the phone will run on AT&T's bands. The latest HTC Sense UI and a 4.3-inch screen will be inspired by a 1GHz Snapdragon CPU and 768 MB of RAM in the first quarter of 2011.
Sprint was relatively quiet at this year's CES. We certainly hope that the third-largest U.S. carrier will come up with something that will blow our minds soon, but for the moment there is only the HTC EVO Shift 4G. Let's not rush things up however – the carrier is hardly leaving things as they are.
T-Mobile might not have the subscriber base of the first three carriers, but it has its 4G thing going and promises to blow our minds with speeds of up to 42 Mbps this year. We are definitely thrilled by the promise, just as we are by the beautiful Carly Foulkes, now officially named the “T-Mobile 4G girl”. That's right, trashing the iPhone just got way prettier.
But hey, until that new iPhone comes
out (and it would better have 4G, if you
ask us), LG can safely brag with getting the first smartphone on
steroids – the LG Optimus 2X, powered by NVIDIA's dual-core
Tegra 2. The handset is expected to hit shelves in the first
quarter of 2011, but in the meantime check out our hands-on
to see just how much speedy it is. Right now, T-Mobile is more of an unofficial carrier for the Optimus 2X, so keep in mind that it's not 100% certain yet that the phone will find its place on the nation's 4th largest network.
But let's not forget the carrier's mid-range phones. The Motorola CLIQ 2 is the successor to the original Motorola CLIQ, which had the MOTOBLUR UI along with a physical keyboard. The CLIQ 2 on its part has some funky looks with a honeycomb-like QWERTY keyboard with distinct keys. The hardware is respectable, but hardly groundbreaking - a 1 GHz processor and a 3.7 inch screen with a resolution of 480 x 854 go for a mid-range device in today's world. The handset is coming in just over a week, so until then take a look at our hands-on!
LG Optimus Black and the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc remained mysteriously
carrier-less. This is hardly going to last long, but for the time
being we will take a look at them outside the carrier paradigm. Both
claim to carry innovations in screen technology – the LG Optimus Black comes with what's probably the brightest display on a phone out there,
while the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc has this new Bravia tech for realistically saturated colors.
These were our top picks from this year's CES, as far as phones go. We're definitely looking forward to meeting them again later this year, when we'll have the pleasure of doing their reviews so that you can stay well-informed about just how the latest achievements in the industry are faring in real-life situations. Meanwhile, why don't you start sharing your thoughts regarding the best phones of CES 2011?