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CES 2009 preview: Mobile phones

Though mobile phones tend to play a supporting role at CES, we can guarantee that we'll see a few new handsets debuting

Though mobile phones tend to play a supporting role at CES, we can guarantee that we'll see a few new handsets debuting.

Of course, Apple always shuns the event for its own Macworld — this year it runs in the same week as CES — but most of the major players will be in Sin City. Since most announcements are shrouded in secrecy until the show opens, we don't have anything firm to report just yet. But if we had a crystal ball, this is what we would see:

Touchscreen phones
If there was a trend in 2008, it was touchscreen phones. Including the uber-hyped iPhone 3G, we saw a mass of touch models, particularly during the latter half of the year. They included smartphones like the Samsung Omnia. We suspect the touchscreen phenomenon will probably continue into the new year. We'll be hitting up all the major players at CES to see what they have up their sleeves, and you never know what might spring up.

Camera phones
Though camera phones have taken a back seat to music phones over the last couple of years, they're now back with a vengeance. Recently, we've reviewed two high-end camera phones: the Sony Ericsson C902, and the 8-megapixel Samsung Innov8. We expect to see camera phones get even better in 2009 and CES will be the beginning. And don't worry, music fans, as you should see some new handsets, too. The Motorola ROKR E8 was born at CES last year and it won our Best of CES award in the mobile phone category.

With the releases of the T-Mobile G1 running Google's Android operating system, BlackBerry Storm, Sony Ericsson Xperia X1, amongst others, 2008 was a big year for smartphones, so can it possibly be outdone? Of course. While we don't expect to see too many new models at CES 2009, we're looking forward to getting some further hands-on time with the hot Nokia N97.

On the Android front, Sony Ericsson has just announced that it will be coming out with a range of Google Android smartphones in the northern summer. In Las Vegas, we'll be picking the company's brains to see what it has in mind. We'll also talk with HTC, which also plans to have a whole portfolio of Android devices by the northern summer. We also should see developments with the Android platform itself, including new applications and features.

Bluetooth headsets
With the hands-free driving laws being enacted across the US, we're likely to see even more Bluetooth accessories than ever at CES. We'll see headsets of all shapes and sizes, and in-car speakerphones will take off, too. We also think stereo Bluetooth will be a standard in most, if not all, headsets.