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Wide range of new smartphones kick off CTIA day 1

Powerful flagship phones such as Samsung's Galaxy S III, as well as new midrange, budget, and prepaid models, get the CTIA ball rolling.

Samsung is showcasing its new flagship Galaxy S III at CTIA 2012. Brian Bennett/CNET

NEW ORLEANS---The steady drumbeat of mobile phone news picked up tempo today at CTIA. Matching the rising temperatures in the Big Easy, hot handsets were unveiled or shown to us for the first time.

We also laid our hands on interesting mobile security solutions and on a collection of compelling accessories. Read on for some highlights of what the CNET gang uncovered on site.

Phones for everyone
First, CNET's Lynn La took a look at the rough and tumble Kyocera Hydro that's water-resistant and built to survive the abuse this cruel world can dish out. Lynn also spent time with the Kycocera Rise that boasts a responsive physical keyboard to let nimble fingers do the talking. Next, CNET's Jessica Dolcourt and I were treated to some hands on time with Virgin Mobile's first 4G phone, the HTC Evo V 4G. Really, it's a rebranded HTC Evo 3D that Sprint says will also link to its older WiMax 4G infrastructure.

The new HTC Evo V 4G brings the once top-tier Evo 3D to Virgin Mobile. Lynn La/CNET

Sprint also talked up a new software security suite, called Guardian that makes rolling out security software to multiple Android handsets on a family plan a breeze. The big treat of the day though was the time Jessica and I spent in the presence of Samsung's upcoming super phone, the Galaxy S III. Not only is this phone gorgeous to behold up close, its quad-core performance and feature list mark it as the next Android phone to dethrone.

At Pepcom, CTIA's evening event, Lynn also gave the $99 Pal by Clarity a spin. Made specifically for seniors, this no-frills handset offers the comfort of large rubber buttons, loud audio, and support for hearing aids. I, too, got in on the action by taking a closer look at the global version of the HTC One V, a compact and elegant phone meant for European and Asian markets. Other interesting accessories include the ClarityHD Micro portable Bluetooth speaker that aims to push the Jawbone Jambox off of its pedestal.

All this happened on just the first official day of the show. You can bet there will be lots of other news in the days to come. Check back all week for the latest CTIA 2012 developments.