While CES probably isn’t the most exciting trade show for mobile enthusiasts (that honor goes to Mobile World Congress and, to a lesser degree, CTIA), there are always a few notable handsets introduced. Last year saw Verizon roll out its premiere lineup of 4G LTE-capable devices (LG Revolution, HTC Thunderbolt, Samsung Droid Charge, Motorola Droid Bionic), while AT&T also made a strong showing with some “4G” phones of its own (HTC Inspire 4G, Samsung Infuse 4G, Motorola Atrix 4G). This year’s event should also be heavy on the LTE, with the first true 4G Windows Phones tipped for introduction on AT&T. What’s most exciting about CES 2012 is that we don’t have a great idea of what to expect; besides a few themes and handsets here and there, most manufacturers’ and carriers’ plans are still shrouded in mystery. At least we’re hoping that’s the case, as opposed to the lack of pre-show intel forboding a slow event for the wireless industry. But with companies increasingly intent on staging product introductions on their own schedules, it wouldn’t be surprising to see major trade show reveals, such as those at CES, get dialed back for the indefinite future.
That being said, here are the top product debuts we’re expecting from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show:
1.LTE-Capable Windows Phones
Thanks to Paul Thurrott, we can be fairly certain that AT&T will introduce a trio of new Mango-powered handsets: the Nokia Lumia 900 (or is it 910?), HTC Radiant, and Samsung Mendel. While the specs on the 900 “Ace” have been detailed fairly well, and the Radiant has been tipped as a spec-bumped Titan, very little is know about the Mendel, down to its lack of a model number. One would expect it to expand upon the gains made by the company’s Focus S, but actual specs and details remain elusive.
2.LTE World Phones on Verizon
It looks like Big Red also has a pair of LTE handsets to show off this year — the LG Spectrum and HTC Fireball — which have been rumored to contain GSM radios alongside the CDMA ones, making them suitable for international roaming in many countries. Spectrum sounds very much like Verizon’s version of the Optimus LTE (which already has a home on AT&T as the Nitro HD), but Fireball has been holding its cards close to its chest. There are some indications that it will be the phone codenamed HTC Tag, but since we don’t know much about that device either, it’s too early to say either way. In general, we’d be surprised to see HTC make too much noise at this year’s show, as its 2012 lineup probably won’t roll out until next month’s MWC.
3.First Sony-Branded Androids
This will be the first major trade show to come in the wake of the Sony Ericsson “breakup,” and thus we’re expecting to see some of the first handsets to drop Ericsson from the branding and arrive simply as Sony Xperias. Specifically, we’ve been hearing a lot about two devices, the LT26i Nozomi and LT28at Aoba. Both are said to feature 720p high definition displays, dual-core gigahertz-class processors, and cameras with megapixel counts in the double digits. The “at” at the end of its model number means that Aoba, at least, should be coming to AT&T in the US.
4.Intel-Powered Hardware (from LG? Samsung?)
Intel’s definitely got a mobile platform ready to go in the form of Medfield: it even showed off an impressively-spec’ed reference handset just last month. More recently, reports have put both LG and Samsung in hardware partnerships with the chip giant, with the most interesting rumor suggesting that Sammy would be bringing a Medfield-powered Ice Cream Sandwich phone to Sprint. If any of this hardware has a basis in reality, all the companies involved have done a good job keeping the specifics under wraps.
Naturally there will be a few more announcements, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note for AT&T or perhaps the long-awaited Motorola Droid 4 for Verizon. And then there are always some wildcards: we haven’t heard much about rumored devices for either T-Mobile or Sprint, yet both carriers will surely have some sort of showing at the event. CES might not be premiere event it once was in terms of product announcements, but it’s almost guranteed that there will be some news from nearly every company that we follow.