CNET's Best of CTIA 2012

Despite fewer new products and a low-key atmosphere at CTIA 2012, CNET found plenty to gawk at in New Orleans. Here are our picks for the best products from the show.

NEW ORLEANS--After three furious days, CTIA 2012 has come to a close. Though a visit to the Crescent City always is enjoyable, this year's event was a little quieter than in past years. But that doesn't mean we didn't see some very cool stuff. Here's what the CNET team picked as the Best of CTIA 2012.

Samsung Galaxy S III buddy share
Samsung Galaxy S III Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Best phone: Samsung Galaxy S III
Samsung may have unveiled its Samsung Galaxy S III flagship phone days before CTIA 2012 kicked off, but CTIA was our first chance to handle it. And at the end of the day, the Android Ice Cream Sandwich mega handset was still the best phone we saw here at the show.

Sporting an extra-large 4.8-inch HD AMOLED screen, an 8-megapixel camera with the works, and a quad-core processor on this global version, the phone will be hard to beat -- especially when you also take into account software add-ons like enhanced voice controls and phone-to-phone sharing for files of up to 1GB in size.

Of course, there's still no carrier announcement for the LTE-ready version coming this summer, and the question of quad-core hangs in the balance -- we could see a perfectly speedy dual-core processor at launch instead. What we do know is that the design, the software, and the specs add up to a compelling handset that's sure to sell.

iSound Twist
iSound Twist Brian Bennett/CNET

Best Bluetooth accessory: iSound Twist
Do you really have a hankering for a Jawbone Jambox, but find its $199 sticker price too steep? Fortunately, there is a great alternative in the new iSound Twist . A play on the popular Jambox, the Twist sports a distinctive pretzel shape, fun colors, and a mic for speakerphone capabilities. It also connects to phones wirelessly via Bluetooth, all for $79.99.

Tech21 makes a variety of durable cases. Kent German/CNET

Best iPhone case: Tech21's products
I know, you're probably wondering how we can pick a best case. But with so many such products on display in New Orleans it seemed like a natural category. And out of all the cases we saw it was Tech21's that were the most interesting. Made of a bizarre substance called D30, the cases provide maximum protection. No, we wouldn't say that they're stylish, but that's not really the point of a rugged case in the first place. The company's products range from simple bumpers to a fully watertight case that can float on water.

Kyocera demonstrated its audio technology on a cell phone without a speaker. Lynn La/CNET

Honorable mention: Kyocera hard-tissue conduction audio technology
Using a ceramic transducer to transmit sound vibrations from the phone to your inner ear, Kyocera's novel audio technology boosts sound quality and lowers ambient background noise. Even putting on a pair of noise-canceling headphones won't block out the noise. When pressed up against the headphones, sound can still travel from the handset through the headphones and reach your ear tissue. The new technology also means the phone doesn't need an output speaker, allowing cleaner lines for phone design.

For more, check out CNET's full coverage of CTIA.

About the author

Brian Bennett is senior editor for appliances at CNET and reviews a wide range of household and smart-home products. These include everything from microwave ovens, blenders, ranges and coffee makers to personal weather stations. An NYC native, Brian now resides in bucolic Louisville, Kentucky where he dreams of someday owning the sparkling house of the future.

Lynn La

Lynn La is a CNET editor who reviews and reports on all things mobile. She also writes about visual arts/design and the ways it intersects with tech. Before CNET, Lynn has also written for The Global Post, The Sacramento Bee, and Macworld. See full bio

Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices. See full bio

Kent German

Kent German leads CNET's How To coverage and is the senior managing editor of CNET Magazine. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he started in San Francisco and is now based in the London office. When not at work, he's planning his next trip to Australia, going for a run, or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really). See full bio

 

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