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New phones and services herald start of CTIA

The annual wireless show has yet to begin in New Orleans, but we've already seen new phones from HTC and Samsung and a new connected home from AT&T.

Weelcome to CTIA. Lynn La/CNET

On a sultry New Orleans afternoon today, AT&T took over a century-old Garden District mansion to open the 2012 CTIA. Yes, the annual wireless confab doesn't formally open until tomorrow morning, but the news already is coming fast and furious. And though I don't arrive in the Big Easy until tomorrow either, a big CNET team is on the ground by the Mississippi. Here are the highlights of what they saw today.

Verizon's HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE HTC

New phones!
Though trade shows like CTIA are about much more than hardware, it's the hardware that excites the most. If you read Jessica Dolcourt's preview from last week, you'll know that the 2012 show promises to deliver fewer new phones than in past years. That may still be true, but I was glad to see that we got two new handsets today.

First up is the HTC Droid Incredible 4G. After a few weeks of rumors, Verizon Wireless and HTC finally spilled the details early this morning in a press release. The handset runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and has an 8-megapixel camera, Beats Audio integration, HTC's Sense 4 software, a 4-inch Super LCD qHD screen, a dual-core Snapdragon S4, a 17,000mAh battery, and a microSD card slot.

AT&T's Samsung Focus 2 Lynn La/CNET

Big Red says it will release the Droid Incredible 4G in the coming weeks. We don't know pricing yet, but Maggie Reardon is guessing it will cost $199 with a two-year contract. Oh, and in its press release, HTC also let it slip that it would roll out the HTC One V to U.S. carriers this summer. Here's a closer look at the Incredible 4G from Jessica.

AT&T announced its own new device in the budget-minded Samsung Focus 2. The Windows Phone 7 device supports the carrier's 4G LTE network and comes with a 4-inch Super AMOLED display, a 5-megapixel camera, and a front-facing VGA camera. The Focus 2 will go on sale May 20 for $49.99 with a two-year service agreement. To see the device up close and personal, check out this hands-on from Jessica and Lynn La.

AT&T's Digital Life Lynn La/CNET

AT&T inside your home
Don't worry, AT&T reps won't be coming over for a visit (that is, unless you want them to), but the carrier is developing new technology designed to let you control almost everything in your home right from your smartphone or tablet. From locking your doors, to lowering your window blinds, to adjusting your thermostat and lights, you'll need only a compatible device and an Internet connection.

Jessica has a hands-on with the service and Seth Rosenblatt has a photo tour of AT&T's connected house. Also, Roger Cheng chats up an AT&T exec about the connected devices that could come.

Mobile payments and more
Master Card announced it would enter the mobile payments game with its own digital wallet service called PayPass Wallet Services. Users will be able to store all of their cards and MasterCard will distribute developer tools to allow other digital wallets to work with its network.

Meanwhile, Clarion unveiled a new product for connected-car fans with its Next Gate. The 7-inch screen connects to your iPhone 4 or 4S and acts like a remote interface for certain features. You can't play Angry Birds on the road (thankfully), but you can make hands-free calls via Bluetooth and use apps like GPS navigation, Internet radio, social networking, and voice control/text readout.

So that's it for the first day of CTIA news. As I mentioned, the show really begins tomorrow, so check back all week for full coverage from CNET.