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Best phones of CES 2011: Editor's Pick

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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.

HTC ThunderBolt
LG Revolution
Samsung 4G LTE smartphone

HTC ThunderBolt


LG Revolution

Samsung 4G LTE smartphone


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.

Motorola ATRIX 4G
Samsung Infuse 4G
HTC Inspire 4G

Motorola ATRIX 4G

Samsung Infuse 4G

HTC Inspire 4G

HTC EVO Shift 4G

HTC EVO Shift 4G


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.

LG Optimus 2X
Motorola CLIQ 2

LG Optimus 2X

Motorola CLIQ 2

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!

Other phones:

LG Optimus Black
Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc

LG Optimus Black

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc

Hm, two of CES's brightest – the 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?

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posted on 07 Jan 2011, 20:49 1

1. Syksyd (Posts: 59; Member since: 16 Apr 2010)


posted on 07 Jan 2011, 20:54 7

2. therygy (Posts: 94; Member since: 24 May 2010)

everyone hates nokia it sucks get a life

posted on 09 Jan 2011, 10:26

21. manaka (unregistered)

hey dude wat u knw abt nokia they wil tell S^3 a whole new operating systm with out bugs but it is hanging thrice a day with out any usage... so stop talking about nokia it makes great phones

posted on 07 Jan 2011, 21:59 7

5. Nickmfnjackson (Posts: 101; Member since: 21 Jan 2010)

I tried to give nokia a chance. I waited. Patiently. What did i get? A bunch low end smartphones, promise for better devices (haha to that) and an underpowered unspectacular n8. Needless to say, i left and got a samsung captivate and i have not regreted the desicion once

posted on 08 Jan 2011, 04:41

12. ella (unregistered)

i thnk nokia will intrduce der new phone @ mwc. just w8 & be patient pipol!

posted on 08 Jan 2011, 18:28

16. Auto101010 (unregistered)

Buddy, the phone is still undergoing heavy testing in their R&D department. I would not expect to see it until the end of 2011.

posted on 09 Jan 2011, 10:28 1

22. manaka (unregistered)

N9 wil come surely with MEEGO and wil make a record selling of 1000 phones per year

posted on 10 Jan 2011, 13:06

27. cristian (unregistered)

samsung,lg,apple,sony motorloa,htc are sold in usa , nokia is sold on the rest of the world,

posted on 07 Jan 2011, 20:55 2

3. therygy (Posts: 94; Member since: 24 May 2010)

PHONEARENA: for verizon, it says the MOTOROLA revolution,

it should be LG revolution. it even says on the device. c'mon

posted on 07 Jan 2011, 20:59 2

4. BarryK (unregistered)

Im so disappointed in Verizon for there phones I wanted a high end phone! The Bionic was good but I really wanted 1 gig of ram.

posted on 07 Jan 2011, 22:25 1

6. douglasman (unregistered)

1 gig you wont ever even use one gig to run an application

posted on 08 Jan 2011, 16:09 2

14. jroc74 (Posts: 6019; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)

You think the Bionic ISNT high end cuz of the Ram? lol

Some of us are a lil too spec happy if you think the Bionic isnt high end..

posted on 09 Jan 2011, 21:17 1

23. timshady337 (Posts: 45; Member since: 19 Nov 2009)

come on verizon 512MB? You know you can do better than that!

posted on 10 Jan 2011, 15:08 1

28. rdearth53 (unregistered)

Yeah they did, the ThunderBolt has 768 mb!

posted on 25 Apr 2011, 01:35

38. Phonesareme (unregistered)

Really? Check out the atrix with at&t versus the bionic. Atrix has a gig of ram but isn't anything close to the smoothness of the bionic. If you want a lesser camera and overall glitchier phone then by all means go get your 1 gig of ram.

posted on 12 Jan 2011, 06:25

34. vishu (unregistered)

dude..its ddr2 RAM wat more do u want??...so jus chill its gonna be much faster than the other phones

posted on 07 Jan 2011, 22:26

7. douglasman (unregistered)

probs the atrix even though it has motoblur =(

posted on 07 Jan 2011, 22:38 1

8. MOTOX (unregistered)

Hey just saying, nothing if final, these are all prototypes which will be put into production. As one verizon guy said, he doesn't think that sammy phone will be put into production until its changed....i mean true...its wiered...they should have made it a curved shape, not pointed...and it didn't look final...maybe they will put in another 512 ram....and cmon...it has the better blur skin...plus come on the moto x...i have has docks...this thing has to have the atrix docks too...!!!...im getting this and the thunderbolt...

posted on 07 Jan 2011, 22:44 1

9. protozeloz (Posts: 5396; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)

Wow the ATRIX 4G stole the show, just wow thats a powerhouse of a phone, plus its new features may change some of the ways we use phones, imagine holding all your PC needs in the palm of your hand(you guys know tha what I mean by all it's just some basics :p)? And getting it on a "netbook"in a couple of secs? Or even better. carry the cradle and use any mouse monitor and keyboard for your amusement .... that's using the head moto looking forward both review and purchase, just don't forget we need updates faster, and overall better support (and the same exploit for root ;p)

posted on 08 Jan 2011, 00:01

10. dakid (unregistered)

i am severely disappointed with bb, yes the playbook is going to be awesome, but some of us out here aren't going to be able to utilize the pb with our current phones and it with no new phones at CES(yet) we are left wondering, what is going on and when is something coming out.
it seems that the only thing that can save them is if they come out with at least 3 new phones for every carrier that has 4G, bb6 os, or the new qnx, and smokes everything out there now and in the future.
come on bb help us out to not make the jump to android, i'm from Missouri, SHOW ME!!!

posted on 08 Jan 2011, 04:08 2

11. hawk62 (Posts: 320; Member since: 21 Nov 2009)

Ok, after reading this i feel i could work for PA. I hated english class, but even i can write better. PA go out and hire a fucking 3rd grader to help with your writing.

posted on 08 Jan 2011, 12:51 3

13. hz (unregistered)

Why all 4.3" screens? No 3.7" or 4" even? The bulkiness really is going to hold back those going for a sleek and sophisticated look. The 4.3 inchers will attract the high school, college and gaming crowd though.

I would just like a cutting edge verizon phone that isn't as big as a dinner plate.

posted on 10 Jan 2011, 15:59

30. maccmill (Posts: 67; Member since: 29 Oct 2010)

I met with an HTC rep yesterday, she showed me the thunderbolt, which is awesome. She also said an incredible 2 will be coming out soon, which should work for you.

posted on 08 Jan 2011, 16:21 2

15. therygy (Posts: 94; Member since: 24 May 2010)

-screen size is great
-1 gig of RAM
-front facing camera
-dual-core processor
-16 gb built in storage (expandable to 32)
-design is great
-I know it is mostly plastic, but i looks like when you drop it the screen will not
crack, unlike the iPhone
-Yes is has motoblur but when you use the right widgets it is fine.
(i personally cant live with out a physical keyboard but i will still try this phone just becasue i love it)

i was thinking about getting the motorola flipside, but that phone does not even compare to the ATRIX,
cant wait for it to come out.

posted on 09 Jan 2011, 03:04 1

18. osanilevich (Posts: 286; Member since: 29 Sep 2009)

Samsung Infuse: The final solution for people with big hands everywhere

posted on 09 Jan 2011, 09:35 1

19. loves phonearena (unregistered)

Samsung 4g lts is awesome and samsung has done a good job:)

posted on 09 Jan 2011, 10:24

20. manaka (unregistered)

yes Syksyd meego wil be ashmed by JAVA mobiles.... so dont worry be happy.

posted on 10 Jan 2011, 02:57

24. Hazel (unregistered)

Would still go with HTC because of HTC Sense. Plus, reportedly, the Droid Incredible literally saved a man's life a few days ago. I love the aluminum body and the premium weight--- basically everything except the absence of a Super AMOLED screen. Something I can sacrifice as a smartphone isn't all about looks the same way a person shouldn't be all about looks either.

posted on 10 Jan 2011, 05:54

26. bobdog (unregistered)

If you folks would just get the iphone......all your probs will e solved..!!

posted on 10 Jan 2011, 19:16

31. Landmarkcm (Posts: 506; Member since: 11 Aug 2009)

LOL & I don't know if your being serious or sarcastic with that comment

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