CES 2013: Smaller Smartphone Players Steal Spotlight - InformationWeek
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06:22 PM

CES 2013: Smaller Smartphone Players Steal Spotlight

LG and Samsung neglected to announce new smartphones during Press Day at CES 2013, but Huawei and Pantech made big splashes with large-screen phones.

CES 2013: 9 Cool Gadgets
CES 2013: 9 Cool Gadgets
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Press Day at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show was bereft of hard-hitting smartphone news from the big boys. Instead, some of the smaller players in the industry stepped into the spotlight.

Pantech was the first company to deliver a smartphone surprise. It announced Monday the Discover, its highest-quality Android device to date. The Discover boasts a 4.8-inch display with 1280 x 720p HD resolution. It looks really good. The Discover also includes a 12.6-megapixel camera that shoots 1080p HD video. It comes with incredibly loud stereo speakers that can create a 3D sound effect. The Discover supports tons of connections, such as LTE 4G, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and NFC (included the ISIS mobile payments venture). Because it is being sold by AT&T, it has the Drive Safe application on board, which prevents the owner from answering text messages when driving.

The Discover's best feature? Its price. The Discover costs just $50 on contract with AT&T. It goes on sale January 11.

[ Take a look at the less successful side of CES gadgetry. See 10 Epic CES Fails. ]

The other big surprise of the day came from Huawei, which introduced not one, but two high-end devices.

First, the Huawei Ascend Mate, a phablet with a massive 6.1-inch display with 1280 x 720 pixels. It's an HD screen, but the large size cuts down on the pixel density. I found it to be impressive in person, but the phone is more unwieldy than the already-too-large Samsung Galaxy Note II. The Ascend Mate also includes an 8-megapixel camera, a huge 4,000mAh battery and a quad-core processor. It is flat-out enormous. It is unclear if this device will ever reach U.S. consumers.

Huawei also announced the Ascend D2, which has a 5-inch 1920 x 1080p full HD screen. Huawei calls the D2's display "Super Retina" with its 443 pixels per inch. The pixel density matches the HTC DNA and easily beats Apple's iPhones. Other features of the D2 include a a 13-megapixel camera with back-side illumination and a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor. It packs a 3,000mAh battery, 32GB of internal storage and a massive 2GB of RAM. It will run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean when it becomes available.

Pricing and availability of the Ascend Mate and D2 were not announced.

LG and Samsung, however, disappointed. Both hosted large press conferences today and neither revealed any new smartphones. Instead, the pair of Korean companies stuck to televisions, refrigerators, microwave ovens and cameras.

Samsung did reveal, however, that its ATIV Odyssey Windows Phone 8 device, first announced in October, will finally hit Verizon Wireless's network in the coming weeks. It was originally slated to become available in December, but clearly the device is giving Verizon trouble. It is an entry-level model that will land under the HTC 8X and Nokia Lumia 822, which are already for sale at Verizon's shops.

Hopefully the first full day of CES, Tuesday, will bring with it some more phones for discussion.

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User Rank: Apprentice
1/8/2013 | 6:54:31 PM
re: CES 2013: Smaller Smartphone Players Steal Spotlight
Wow. Huawei and Pantech are really putting some pressure on the big boys. But I have to wonder, in an age (at least now; maybe this will change in the next year or so) where your phone is almost a status symbol for many if having a Huawei or Pantech phone will be something buyers aspire toward.
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