CTIA 2008 - Live Report

We are in Las Vegas for the CTIA 2008 show. As expected, every major manufacturer announced new phones, most of which are coming to the U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. LG brings its touch Vu for AT&T and the new enV2. Samsung revealed the iPhone-like Instinct for Sprint and the other TV phone for AT&T, the Access. HTC showcased the Touch for Verizon and the U.S. variant of the Touch Dual slider. Sprint revealed its first QChat capable phones, including two Sanyo, LG, Motorola and Samsung devices.

Read the following pages for more information.



LG enV2

Phone Arena first brought to light images of the new enV2 device (a.k.a. VX9100) back in February. We got most of the information prior to the official announcement here at CTIA, so most die-hard Verizon followers are already in the know. For the rest – here is the scoop.

The most notable changes are in the design. The new enV2 is a whole 0.6 inches shorter, and only about 0.1 inches wider, while the thickness is also slightly reduced. The weight has gone down from 4.6 oz to 4.2 oz. As we like to say – great success!

The design language has also changed. The enV2 definitely looks a lot more contemporary with the silver trim around the front! The large camera hump on the back is gone, and instead LG has replaced it with a small window with protective glass on top of it, under which is the camera lens. Around it again is the very stylish silver trim. The entire back also has the same soft-touch coating that is used on the Voyager.

The front features a newly designed dialpad with larger buttons than on the enV, as well as replacing the standard 5-way navigational D-pad with more simplistic Up & Down arrow buttons. There still is a small display on top, but it now has a rectangular shape.

Opening the phone reveals the increased main display – from 2” to 2.4”. The image quality was good (QVGA), but as this device is a pre-release version, we will not comment on it. The stereo speakers have kept their position around the display, and according to the VZW rep, they are now louder.

Decreasing the length of the device has of course led to smaller real estate, so the full QWERTY keypad is now shorter, thus all the keys are slightly narrower compared to the ones on the enV. During our testing, this did not appear to be a problem whatsoever – typing was very easy and error free.

Redesigned is the internal D-pad, located on the right side of the QWERTY. On the enV, it was partitioned from the rest of the keypad, while in the enV2 the separation is gone. This is more of a cosmetic change and it did not increase or decrease the D-pad's overall usefulness. The orange E-Mail button located on the top-left is now replaced with the same Fn key that is used on the Voyager.

Taking a look at its sides, the enV2 features a microSDHC memory slot on the right, which now supports memory cards up to 8GB. Above it is the 2.5mm headset jack. The volume buttons and the dedicated camera one are located on the other side.

The actual functionality or features have not changed a lot. The expectation was to have a full HTML browser included (like the one in Voyager) , but this did not happen.

As we reported a while ago, the enV2 will come with four themes. The only thing different since our report in February are the names of the last two, now being called Wall and Wave, instead of LG Theme 1 and LG Theme 2.

Another inovation is the customizable MY SHORTCUTS menu, which is invoked by a press of the internal d-pad’s right-arrow key.
Overall, the changes in the design are substantial and will definitely bring a lot to the total success of the enV2. Still, the lack of an HTML browser in a contemporary phone could be considered a drawback, but at least existing Verizon customers will not be required to change calling plans.

CTIA: Hands-on with LG enV2


The Vu is one of the most interesting phones announced at the show. Some may consider it as “yet another iPhone wannabe” but it has been expected by the fans for months, as it is the first to bring PRADA-like form-factor and software to the U.S. market. Alltel’s GLIMMER also employs this User Interface, but is with Shine-like design, meaning it is a slider instead of a candybar – not so iPhone-like. The Dare for Verizon (still not announced), is very similar in design to the Vu , but unfortunately it will use another software, as the Voyager and the Glyde.

When compared to the Cupertino music phone, the Vu clearly shows it is not a direct rival. Well, it has a 3-inch 240x400 pixels touch display, occupying its front side and also is a “full touch phone”, but its main purpose is TV instead of music playback. It is the first AT&T phone to support Qualcomm's MediaFlo technology, which is behind the mobile TV services of both the #1 and #2 U.S. carriers. AT&T will launch it in May and in the beginning, it will have the 8 current channels (CBS, Comedy Central, ESPN, MTV, FOX, NBC, NBC News, Nickelodeon), plus 2 exclusive ones. Pricing has not been announced, yet. The TV feature was demonstrated at the show, delivering perfect image quality, both, with and without using the retractable antenna. It is necessary only if you are in an area with fringed TV signal.

CTIA: Hands-on with LG Vu

For those not in one of the 53 cities with MediaFlo coverage, AT&T will offer the TV-less Vu, code-named CU915. The CU920 is the one with TV and with retractable antenna.

Similar to the iPhone though, it is not really limited to one thing, but is positioned more as an all-in-one device. It has a full HTML internet browser, which visualizes large pages as on a computer. Well, the whole browsing experience is not as brilliant as on the iPhone’s Safari, but the HSDPA support will leave “the best iPOD” behind when it comes to Internet speed. One can expect that the whole page cannot fit the screen, due to its relatively low resolution (400x240 pixels in landscape mode). This isn’t really a problem for the iPhone where you can fit the whole page (zoom out) with a couple of clicks and enlarge the desired area again with no effort. However, it is a problem with the LG phones … you cannot pan around, but must scroll via the small on-screen buttons.

As we’ve mentioned above, the Vu has the same user interface as the European models PRADA and Viewty. Of course, AT&T slightly personalized the whole thing, but most of it is kept the same; for example, both the homescreen and the first page of the main menu house shortcuts to the Mobile TV. We like this interface because the functionality is divided into four tabs (phone, multimedia, organizer, settings) and it is easy to find what you need. Yet, it looks pretty.

Unlike iPhone and Samsung’s phones using the Croix interface, when it comes to text input, LG offers you plenty of options: from virtual 12-key numpad, to a landscape oriented QWERTY, to handwriting recognition. For single-handed usage, the combination of the numpad and T9 is most suitable, delivering experience similar to that of a normal phone. The QWERTY, is our favorite for a longer text, with large keys that make it as good as the bad hardware ones.

Samsung Instinct

Like all recent full touch-screen phones released on the market, the Instincttries to copy or resemble in appearance the iPhone. Compared to the Apple's product, it has very similar dimensions, with the major difference being that is narrower. The nowadays popular metal trim around the front edge is present here also. The back side features only the 2.0 mega pixel camera. The left side houses the volume rocker and the charger/data port, while on the right is the camera dedicated key, speakerphone/voice activated commands and the microSD slot. At the top are located the display lock key and a 3.5mm headset jack.

Unlike the iPhone, which has only one button, the Instinct features three whole ones: back, home and call keys. This makes navigation though menus a lot easier and leave more screen real-estate for other functionality.

Starting with an actual interface, it features four tabs. The first one is Favs and it is taken from other Sprint phones. It is fully customizable and can contain shortcuts to specific functionality, application or contact. A very neat feature is how just by holding down one it could be moved up or down in the list, thus allowing very Web 2.0 like feeling.

The second tab is the MAIN, where you can find messaging, navigation, calendar and settings. The third tab has links to the music player, TV, camera and so forth. The last tab is with links to the Web – the actual browser, Live Search, Weather, News etc.

The short tests we ran on the Web browser brought us to the following conclusion – it is just great! Phone Arena page loaded a little bit slow, but that could be due to the actual phone or the current state of the network. All of the Instincts at the show are early prototypes, so we saw a bunch of the usual crashes and reboots. The functionality included in the Web browser is not limited just to simple very good rendering of the webpages. Three levels of zoom are present (0.5x, 1x, 2x), mobile or desktop optimized viewing as well as panning around the page, simply by tilting the Instinct (accomplished by using the camera, instead of accelerometer).

What we slightly disliked was that when entering a text message, the phone defaulted to landscape mode always. This of course requires rotation of the whole device every time you want to type a message. Once the display is rotated, there is an option for going back to portrait mode, but the next time you want to write another message, it defaults to landscape again. We hope there will be an option to permanently select portrait mode.

To be completely honest, this really is the first phone after the iPhone which can be considered its competitor. The whole UI (when working on the test models) is just great – very intuitive, very easy to use, very fast, very iPhone like. Given the presence of high speed Rev.A data and GPS navigation, the great UI and browser, this will definitely become a huge hit for Sprint!

CTIA: Hands-on with Samsung Instinct

Samsung Access

Samsung Access is one of the phones in the AT&T line of MediaFlo mobile TV service. Unlike the higher-end LG Vu, the Access is more of a low-midrange device.

The landscape oriented 2.3" QVGA display is hands-down gorgeous! Once we started the TV service, all we just wanted was to grab a beer and sit down and watch! If you are looking for the antenna (like we did), you will not find one as unlike the Vu, it is internal only. Still, the image quality was great.

Having a landscape display required the whole device to be wider compared to a regular phone. Still, it was quite comfortable to hold!

The front design of the Access is done in such a way, so the first time you glance at it, it seems like an open slider. This is because the top half, with the screen and D-pad below it, are separated from the rest of the keypad. The whole back, sides have soft touch feel to them, while most of the front surface is highly glossy.

The UI theme is the standard seen in AT&T Samsungs. The reactions of the UI were fast. We gave the browser a try and to one point it seemed like PA's home page will load properly, but right then we got the dreaded "Page too large. Content may not be displayed properly". Still, lighter full HTML pages should display OK.

Our first impressions from the Access are very positive! AT&T is obviously targeting unpretentious customers who do not care so much about the whole "touch" experience and higher price tag of the Vu, but still want to take advantage of the mobile TV service!

Nokia N810 Internet Tablet WiMax Edition

After launching the N96, N78, 6220 classic and 6210 Navigatorin Barcelona a few months back, the company did not have anythinginteresting to show off with. Being number one in the World, they hadto come with something, which were one entry and one mid-range CDMAphones and the N810 Internet Tablet WiMax Edition.
The device is not aphone, but rather something used primarily for entertainment – watchTV, chat with friends via the full QWERTY slide-down keyboard, use itfor navigation thanks to the built-in GPS (awful performance during ourtests with the N810), talk with friends via the built-in Skype and of course surf the Net… youget the idea. The new version only adds WiMax 2.5 GHZ support, whichwhen unavailable, falls back to just Wi-Fi (if available). In the U.S.,Sprint's Xohm Wi-Max service should be launched soon, and thus theTablet will be able to use it. The major plus of the new technology is theincreased range, which in urban areas is expected to be around1.5 miles.

Slightlyupgraded is the Maemo OS2008 running the Tablet – better e-mail client,support for Chinese characters in the browser and improved softwareupgrades. Current N800 and N810 owners will also be able to upgrade toit.

Our full review of the N810 (not the Wi-Max Edition) can be read here.

Nokia 3606 and 1606

Nokia showcased also two new CDMA devices, its first ones to support the AWS 1700 MHz frequency, which carriers like Cricket and MetroPCS will use. The two devices have similar design language, with the higher end 3606 being with glossy blue finish, while the lower end 1606 is in grey. Both phones are running S40 UI.

The 3606, being a mid-range device, features hidden when inactive display on the front, with two touch-sensitive music controls below it. Opening the shell reveals an almost flat plastic keypad surface with no dividers between the keys. The key-press feel is not great, but should not cause a lot of problems.

The 1606 is the entry-level model, and lacks a camera. The design again is very similar to the 3606, but the front shell only has a simple greyscale landscape display. The keypad is almost the same also, but with dividers between the keys. Though not unique, the built-in LED light on the hinge which is activated by a button on the front shell, above the screen, is helpful.

micoUSB are becoming the standard, and both devices feature those (they can be used for charging as well). Both devices will be available around Q3.

Nokia Remade Concept

HTC Touch Dual US

For the first time since the inception of HTC, the company has an actual booth at a major expo. Up until now, they usually had a suite or something setup, where you can get in only with an invitation or a scheduled meeting. If you remember, a few years back HTC did not have a separate brand name and was selling its devices either as carrier branded or was manufacturing products for other brands. Apparently, now they feel their name is known well enough and having a separate booth is worth it.

Another first for the U.S. is the availability of an unlocked device directly from a major retailer. We are talking about the HTC Touch Dual US of course. The device is exactly the same as the European 20 key version (note that there is a 12-key version in the EU as well), with the major difference being the Windows Mobile 6.1 preloaded straight out of the box and of course US 3G support.

For those not familiar with the Touch Dual at all, it is a very sleek WM phone, which unlike the original Touch, features 3G, lacks Wi-Fi and has either a 12 or 20-key slide keypad.

Both EU and U.S. Duals feature second generation Touch-Flo technology. For all of you who are not familiar with it, it is just a fancy word for the interface, which HTC developed to make their devices more one-hand-friendly-operated and of course, not to miss the current trend of "touch" navigation (iPhone, Prada etc).

Talking about the iPhone, the Dual now features very similar touch image manipulations such are the gallery scrolling (same as on iPhone), the zooming in/out, which is activated by drawing a circle on the screen and depending on the direction, it either zooms in or zooms out. The other cosmetic changes concern the HTC Home screen, which is slightly different; the added tabs in the Stop All application with one showing the amount of available memory and when clicked, linking to the Memory application.

Expect to see the device sometime in May or June in Best Buy stores, with selling price of around $500. Before you run out to buy it, be sure to read our in-depth review on the 12-key version. We'll definitely update as soon as we get our review samples from HTC.

Verizon XV6900 (HTC Touch CDMA)

The second "major" announcement, again expected, is the XV6900 or the Touch CDMA for Verizon Wireless. In a nutshell, it is the exactly same Windows Mobile 6 device already offered from Sprint for a while, in a new white color. Unlike the GSM version, it does have 3G, but lacks Wi-Fi. The rest of the goodies are EV-DO, GPS and a 2.8" flat QVGA display.

The expected availability is April, and of course you are more than welcome to check out our in-depth review of the Sprint's version (only different color).

RIM BlackBerry Pearl 8120 for T-Mobile

Although AT&T have been offering it for a while, it is nice to see that T-Mobile will carry it also. The 8120 is the second generation Pearl GSM with the most significant update being the added WiFi. In the case of T-Mobile, it will be usable for the HotSpot @Home UMA service, which helps for both extending the coverage and lowering the bill. Other improvements include an enhanced Internet browser, a 2-megapixel camera (instead of 1.3), now with video capture, extended battery talk-time, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

RIM BlackBerry Curve 8330

The Curve 8330 is the CDMA member of the Curve family. It stays between the Pearl and the 8820/8830, being the smallest BlackBerry with a real full QWERTY. Yet, it is consumer oriented, with a trackball for navigation, a camera and a 3.5mm headphones jack. Sprint announced it will offer it this month (though we guess it will launch on the 16th) for $180 after rebates, while Verizon will get it a month later, at $270 after rebates.

Motorola MOTO Z9

Motorola Z9 images and info actually leaked in July 2007, so pretty much there isn't anything new. The device is already offered from AT&T and about the only really exciting thing is that it is the first non-smartphone to have the AT&T Navigator service. The GPS service includes mobile access to YELLOWPAGES.COM, real-time traffic updates and route information, ETA calculation for every route, plus constant updates. The Navigator also provides both flow (average speed of traffic along your route) and incident information (auto accidents, freeway construction, etc.). Another interesting feature is the Gas By Price feature. It gives you directions to the nearest gas stations, sorted lowest to highest price.

We got a Z9 unit and went outdoors to give it a try. The cold restart took a good 4-5 minutes, but after that location locking was quite quick. Even though the service is provided by Telenav – the same company behind Sprint and Verizon's service, AT&T's seems a lot more sluggish and time-taking. This might be just because of the area we were in or…

The actual device can be considered to be the slider variant of the RAZR V9. The overall dimensions are quite … large and the weight is heavy. The front (and the inside) are mostly flush, with just small metal "nipples" designating where the button are. All keys, including the D-pad offer good tactile feedback. Sliding the front up or down is very smooth, with strong spring assist.

We were really hoping to see the Z9 TV capable, as the display is a whopping 2.4" with great quality. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Still, if you intend to heavily use the device for navigation, the large and bright screen will definitely help a lot.

The UI is the old Synergy, and not the Juix which is used in the V8 for example. Icon animations present in the V9, are seen here as well. An innovation is the fading effect in the main menu. One thing to be noted, is the extremely fast speed of the whole UI!

In conclusion, the Z9 looks like a great mid-range device if you do not mind the extra weight and dimensions!

Motorola V950 for Sprint

One of the devices in the Sprint's line of Qchat capable phones is the Motorola V950. Expected to launch in specific markets later this month, the Qchat service will be similar to the famous Push-to-Talk currently available, but instead on the iDEN network, the fast EV-DO Rev.A CDMA will be used. Our sources tell us to expect a national launch around the end of May – beginning of June.

Motorola V950 is a mid-level ruggedized clamshell with a large color display on the front and what seems like music touch-sensitive controls, but in actuality, are regular keys, which have to be pressed. Just above the display are the 2.0 mega pixel camera and the LED flash.

Opening the shell reveals the 2.2" display and the keypad. All buttons (except for the D-pad) are raised and well separated, thus very easily distinguished one from the other. All were kind of stiff on pressing, but this might be because most of the models shows at such events are prototypes.

Motorola Q9c Lime Green

Nothing spectacular here: Alltel and U.S. Cellular will launch the same Q9c Sprint is offering (Verizon have the Q9m but will also offer the Q9c) in both the standard black and the new Lime Green color variants

Motorola Q9c Specifications | Review

Motorola MOTOROKR EQ3 and H690 Bluetooth headset

ZTE C88 for MetroPCS

Kyocera Wireless, now the 6th largest cell phone manufacturer in the World (after the Sanyo acquisition was just finalized), announced a total of seven new devices – three CDMA and four GSMs for the Latin America market.

Starting with the most interesting one, Neo E1100, which offers a quite unique design. The whole front surface is very glossy with a hidden OLED display at the lower right corner. As it is quite small, it only provides the most basic information. A really cool feature is the blue LED light, which runs through the whole front from top to bottom. The left side features the volume rocket and the camera button. Both are very close to each other and have very small relief, so are somewhat hard to find by touch. The back, in contrast to the shinny front, has a soft feel, which helps for a better grip.

Opening the shell reveals the flush keypad, which still has slightly raised key separators. The keypad offers good tactile feedback.

The 2.2" QVGA display was great, but beyond the main menu, the actual UI of the device was not working. Overall, it seems like a great low-mid tier device with a very eye-catching design!

Kyocera Mako S4000

The phone falls in between the Neo and the low end Adreno. The glossy finish of the Neo is gone, and instead of it the whole front and back surfaces have a soft, rubber like feel. The display is now color with not very great brightness. The side buttons are the same as on the Neo, but especially on the left side, are quite hard to press.

Opening the shell reveals a very small relative to the whole body display, with low 128x160 resolution. The keypad offers OK tactile feedback, but the SEND and END keys are just way too small for our taste.

Kyocera Adreno S2400

The lowest end of the line is the Adreno S2400. The whole device looks and feels like a kid's toy. Just because Kyocera has used again material, which has rubber-like feel, the target market is supposed to be the sport fans (there is no sports related functionality whatsoever).

The front has a small, one line display like on the Mako, while the internal one is still 1.8" but it is not even TFT.

Velocity Mobile is the latest newcomer in the Windows Mobile space. They do not actually manufacture their devices, but use Inventec Corporation for that.

Both phones use Qualcomm's MSM7201 chipset, thus offer quad-band GSM/tri-band HSPDA connectivity, Wi-Fi and GPS. Other common features between the two models are the 2 mega-pixel camera, TV output, Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional and small trackball for menu navigation.

The Velocity 103 model lacks physical keyboard, so the majority of the front is used by the full 640 x 480 VGA display.

Velocity 111 resembles very much Motorola Q or Samsung BlackJack, but as it runs WM Professional, it has a touch screen.

CELLATEL, the North American distributor of Alcatel devices was showcasing the latest line in a booth full of Playboy girls. The company has signed a deal with Sears for the distribution of unlocked devices. Most of the models were nothing interesting.

Alcatel OT-V770 and The Playboy phone

Out of all, the one that deserves our attention is probably the Playboy. The device has no Alcatel branding, but is based on the V770. It is a candy-bar with the Playboy logo and content (not porn) preloaded. When launched, matching accessories will be available for it as well.

As a device, it is nothing special – 1.3 mega pixel camera, stereo Bluetooth and memory expansion. Three different color variants will be available, and each one will have a different metal back plate with graphics.

Alcatel OT-V270

Alcatel OT-S215

Alcatel One Touch Sport

Alcatel OT-S319

Alcatel OT-S621

Alcatel OT-C701

Alcatel OT-C717

Jabra JX20 Pura

Jabra BT8040 and BT4010

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