As CTIA 2009 closes, so does the busy cell phone trade show season that began three months ago at CES. And now that the CNET crew has left Las Vegas for San Francisco and New York City, we've had a chance to reflect on what CTIA gave us. I'll describe the highlights in detail below, but be sure to check out our CTIA videos and CTIA photo galleries. We also picked our favorite products for the Best of CTIA.
A snoozer of a show
Though there were plenty of new phones to handle, CTIA was rather quiet. Sure, the torpid economy is a likely culprit, but CTIA has a bigger strike against it. Since it follows the two much bigger blowouts of CES and the GSMA World Congress, CTIA just can't offer the same level of news.
It's not really CTIA's fault--after all, a U.S.-focused show can't be expected to compete with global events--but I'm not the first to suggest that CTIA should switch its schedule to later in the year. But as I said, there was plenty to report.
Getting the message
If there was one theme at CTIA 2009, it was the messaging phone. A total of five new models made their first appearance in Las Vegas, with Samsung and AT&T leading the way.
On the Monday before the show, Sammy and AT&T unveiled the Samsung Impression and the Samsung Magnet. Both offer full QWERTY keyboards on a different theme. While the Magnet offers minimal features and a simple design, the Impression has a comfortable slider design, a brilliant display, and mid-range multimedia. It made such an impression on us that we picked it as our top phone of the show.
Kyocera had its own messaging phone, the G2GO M2000. Its keyboard seems rather cramped, but it offers a respectable feature set. The M2000 will soon arrive at Virgin Mobile as the Kyocera X-tc. Meanwhile, Sanyo and Sprint introduced the SCP-2700. It has a rather dull design, but it comes in pink or blue.
LG also got into the messaging-phone craze with the LG Neon and Xenon for AT&T. Nicole Lee gave both the Xenon and Neon a thorough hands-on and she checked out the LG Prada 2, the LG Banter, and a "Transformers" LG Versa.
Touching the touch screens
Touch screens also made a big appearance at the show. Sprint picked up a revamped version of its Instinct touch-screen handset with the Samsung Instinct S3. Unfortunately, it's just a small revamp with a curvier design and a couple of new features.
Samsung also announced MetroPCS' first touch-screen phone. The Samsung Finesse, which is not unlike the Samsung Delve for Alltel, includes support for 3G networks.
Bonnie Cha took us through the new HTC Snap and she explored the possibility of more LG smartphones by the end of the year. AT&T also showed its new Samsung Propel Pro and the Nokia E71x. The smartphones offer their own unique styles--the Nokia E71x is (for now) the thinnest QWERTY smartphone on the market while the Propel Pro offers Windows Mobile 6.1 in a slider design.
Unfortunately, Palm Pre news was light in Las Vegas. We still have no pricing or availability news, and Bonnie was not pleased that Palm is still taking a hands-off policy toward the new device. I can't say I blame her.
Similarly, while we had high hopes for Android devices at CTIA, we only got a passing promise from Samsung for an Android device for Sprint or T-Mobile by the end of the year. Finally, Samsung also unveiled the Mondi, a new WiMax Netbook.
Keeping it quiet
Other manufacturers kept rather low profiles. Motorola showed just one phone, the Evoke QA4. The Evoke doesn't offer a whole lot that's new, but at least it's not another Razr. Sony Ericsson didn't announce any new handsets at the show, but it unveiled the T707 a week earlier.
Software and apps
If software and apps are your fancy, Jessica Dolcourt followed several trends, including the new BlackBerry App World. From CNET News, Tom Krazit offered a full analysis of the App World, and Maggie Reardon looked into a new TV service for BlackBerry devices.
So that's it from Las Vegas. We'll see you in October at the CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment show in San Diego.