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CES 2013: Smartphones roundup

CES 2013: Smartphones  roundup
Brad Molen
Brad Molen|January 14, 2013 3:00 PM

Smartphones at CES? Believe it or not, the mobile industry had a somewhat unremarkable presence at this year's show, as key handsets were few and far between. Most phone makers are much more keen to announce flagship devices at either Mobile World Congress in February or their own press events, so the newsmakers in this genre for CES 2013 were lesser-known companies like ZTE, Huawei and Sony. After the break, we'll break down the biggest news from mobile over the past week and find out what's in store for us as we face the coming months.


While the devices seemed to be completely overshadowed by the show's massive emphasis on 4K, some of the most important phone announcements revolved around a bump in resolution as well. Sony had the biggest showing, launching a pair of 5-inch, 1080p phones called the Xperia Z and ZL. ZTE launched what it dubbed the "world's thinnest full HD phone," the Grand S, and Chinese rival Huawei unveiled the Ascend D2 on stage. Wrapping up the 1080p parade, we were introduced to the Lenovo K900, a 5.5-inch beauty destined for China.

Unusual displays

Aside from the growing trend of 5-inch (and larger) high-res phones, we're also seeing an increase in momentum for large-screen models (and yes, we're avoiding the dreaded "p" word). Most notable at this week's show was the Huawei Ascend Mate, a gargantuan 6.1-inch device that is aching to take the title of world's largest phone away from Samsung. Such a handset once again blurs the line of what size consumers think is too large. Frankly, this is nothing new, since at one time we thought that 4.5-inch screens were ridiculously massive. The scary thought? There's a very good chance our phones aren't done growing in size. 2013 could be a very interesting year in that respect.

CES 2013 Smartphones  roundup

Additionally, Samsung surprised CES attendees by briefly showing off a prototype "Youm" phone with a flexible display. The panel, which bends and drapes over the edge of the device, demonstrated the ability to have a streaming ticker for stocks, texts, notifications and other apps -- even if your phone has a flip cover protecting it. We're not expecting to see it hit a flagship smartphone anytime soon, but it's nice to see Samsung has made a lot of progress on this front so far. Also, Youm is a great name.

Next-gen processors

Eight-core is the new four-core. The mobile processing race continues to heat up, as all of the major players came out with impressive new products this week. Samsung announced Exynos 5, an eight-core processor that utilizes a set of four 1.8GHz A15 cores and four 1.2GHz A7 cores; additionally, Huawei's Richard Yu broke the news on our stage that his company's next homegrown chip, slated for later this year, will feature eight cores.

Qualcomm also impressed us with its latest announcement, the Snapdragon 800 and 600. The 800, which is the more powerful of the two, will be capable of up to 2.4GHz clock speeds and will be able to capture and play 4K video at 30 fps. NVIDIA's newest chipset, the Tegra 4, houses 72 GPU cores and will also be able to handle 4K -- not to mention more advanced imaging capabilities.

CES 2013: Smartphones roundup