As we approach CTIA, join us as we return to last year's show to see how the hottest products from that event have fared in the real world. We've featured our top picks from 2009 and a few notable extras.
Best cell phone
What we said then: The Samsung Impression stands out as the one of the best-designed messaging phones we've seen in a while. The keyboard is spacious and tactile, and while the handset isn't quite sexy, it has a pleasant, minimalist shape that feels nice in the hand. Yet the Impression's biggest draw is its gorgeous active-matrix organic light-emitting diode display. Features are decent, even if they're not groundbreaking.
What we say now: The Samsung Impression isn't perfect, but it ranks high on our list as a messaging and multimedia phone.
What we said then: The HTC Snap stood out for its Inner Circle feature. The capability isn't the wave of the future, but it does help prioritize your e-mails based on your preferences. In addition, HTC, once again did a nice job on the design. The Snap is a beautifully constructed and sleek smartphone. The QWERTY keyboard also features good-size buttons for easy messaging.
What we say now: The HTC Snap for Sprint offers snappy performance and good messaging features, but the smartphone's plastic build and lack of Wi-Fi don't justify the price.
What we said then: Not only does it have this sleek design that can fold down to a more portable form factor, the Jabra Halo also claims to be the first and only stereo Bluetooth headset to have dual microphone noise cancellation. It uses Jabra's Noise Blackout technology to block out background noise, and it has Zirene Power Bass for better audio performance.
What we say now: The Jabra Halo is an attractive stereo Bluetooth headset, but that's about all we can say for it.
What we said then: RocketVox has all the makings of a successful service--a gorgeous interface, broad appeal, and stacks of features. The compelling all-in-one in-box for multiple e-mail accounts, SMS, visual voice mail, voice-to-text transcription, VoIP calling, conference calling, calendars, screen sharing, and address book management also comes with three pricing plans for casual users up to business professionals.
What we say now: RocketVox and other all-in-one in-boxes were the hot trend at CTIA 2009, and one whose engines all but fizzled out after the show. A year later, RocketVox is still in closed beta and has been mum on any new developments. As such, we haven't given it a full review.
What we said then: The LG Neon has a nice display and is slim and lightweight. The keyboard only has three rows instead of the four rows on the Xenon, so it's slightly more cramped. Still, the keys are well-spaced and have a bumpy texture for easier texting.
What we say now: Despite a few quirks, the LG Neon is a good simple messaging phone from AT&T.
What we said then: The Kyocera X-tc hides a full alphabetic keyboard behind the 2.4-inch display. The overall design is a bit angular, and we're worried that the combined keypad and keyboard will be cramped, but the phone offers a fair number of features to compensate.
What we say now: The Kyocera X-tc brings a fresh update to Virgin Mobile's line of basic messaging cell phones, but there are some minor design and navigation issues.
The rectangular candy bar design reminds us of a gallery of phones before it, but Sanyo puts its own stamp on the SCP-2700's design by offering two unique colors. The 2.2-inch display supports 65,000 colors and the keyboard offers a fair number of shortcut keys.
What we say now: With its great messaging interface and affordable pricing, the Sanyo SCP-2700 offers excellent bang for your buck.
The AT&T Nokia E71x comes in a sleek black and is currently the thinnest QWERTY smartphone on the market. The GPS-enabled device is compatible with AT&T Navigator for turn-by-turn directions, and it features Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, HSDPA support, and a 3.2-megapixel camera.
What we say now: Affordably priced, the Nokia E71x for AT&T is an incredible value for business users and consumers looking for a robust messaging smartphone.
What we said then: The Samsung Propel Pro beefs up the offerings of the earlier Samsung Propel with the addition of Windows Mobile 6.1. The slider phone comes in a cool silver-and-chrome color and also features a full QWERTY keyboard. It also has integrated Wi-Fi connectivity and a 3-megapixel camera.
What we say now: The Samsung Propel Pro is a capable Windows Mobile device, but its bulky design makes it less appealing than AT&T's other messaging smartphones.
The Mondi crams laptop- and Netbook-worthy features into a compact design. It promises a customizable interface with widgets that can be dragged around at will. The operating system is Windows Mobile 6.1.
The bottom line: If you're itching for a WiMax device and you can get over the sometimes-frustrating user interface, the Samsung Mondi delivers satisfying performance.