Finally, the year of Android

There's certainly one theme that dominated CES 2010 in the cell phone and smartphone category and that's Android.

LAS VEGAS--CES 2010 didn't produce quite a showstopper like last year's Palm Pre, but there's certainly one theme that dominated the show in the cell phone and smartphone categories and that's Android, Android, and Android. After a false start at CES 2009--last year's show defied expectations to produce no Android announcements--Google's OS finally emerged from its shell this year.

The Nexus One wasn't at CES, but it was the talk of Vegas. James Martin/CNET

Of course, there was plenty of buzz about it even before CES started, after the official announcement of the Nexus One. Though neither Google nor HTC were officially showing the Nexus One in Las Vegas (thus making it ineligible for CNET's Best of CES Awards) it went on to be the buzz of the show. We posted our review from Sin City the day before CES began.

Beyond the Nexus One, AT&T committed to launching five new Android devices in the first half of 2010, including the Dell Mini 3. Motorola also introduced its latest Android smartphone, the Motorola Backflip, which won our Best of CES award in the cell phone category for its fresh take on design. We go our first hands-on with the Android-powered Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 and we learned about OS updates to existing Moto handsets.

Outside of Android, Palm continued its tradition of making product announcements at CES and introduced the Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus for Verizon. The company also unveiled details for WebOS 1.4, which will come out sometime in February and add video recording and Flash Player 10.1 for all WebOS devices. T-Mobile also made it official and said it will bring the HTC HD2 to its lineup this spring. Whatever your preference in OS, it looks like it's shaping up to be another busy year for smartphones.

The Moto Backflip won Best of CES in the cell phone category. Bonnie Cha/CNET

LG introduced two new messaging phones: the LG Lotus Elite (another nominee for Best of CES in the category) and the LG Rumor Touch, which are sequels to the Lotus and the Rumor 2, respectively. Both Sprint phones now have touch screens and updated features. The Rumor Touch has a 3.0-inch display and a slide-out keyboard, but the Lotus Elite caught our eye with its unique design and dual QVGA displays.

We also took a closer look at the Casio Brigade and LG's line of global smartphones. LG also said it would release more smartphones for the U.S. market. As for Bluetooth headsets, Jabra introduced the Jabra Extreme, which promises more aggressive noise-cancellation.

In a big change from previous years, Samsung had a quiet show. The company showed just its Moment with digital TV and announced a pledge to recycle one million phones. Yet, we did get to play with Sammy's W9600 and Diva. Sony Ericsson displayed a gallery of recent models, including a handset with a clear display; Sonim unveiled the rugged XP3.2 Quest Pro (the third Best of CES nominee for cell phones) and HTC showed its new Smart phone for Europe and Asia.

That concludes the cell phone and smartphone highlights of CES 2010. Be sure to read our full coverage for many mobile tidbits.

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