It's funny to think that just a year ago the T-Mobile G1 was the only Google Android device on the market. GSMA 2009 was a bit of a let down in that sense. We didn't see a large number of Android announcements, but it did produce the HTC Magic.
Though the Magic was only released in European markets, it eventually made its way to other parts of the world under different names, including the Google Ion and ultimately the T-Mobile MyTouch 3G here in the U.S. It wasn't a stark change from the G1, but it did offer a sleeker, sexier design as well as Android 1.5 and Microsoft Exchange support, which was a step in the right direction. The MyTouch 3G is still available from T-Mobile and a Limited Edition Fender model was just released for the carrier.
Of course, a lot has changed in a year and we've seen an explosion of Android devices from various manufacturers and with various carriers. As far as Android is concerned, we suspect that Mobile World Congress 2010 will be a very different story from last year.
In addition to the Magic, HTC introduced the Touch Pro2 and Touch Diamond2 at GSMA 2009. As the successor to the popular business device, the Touch Pro2 brought such enhancements as a larger touch screen, improved QWERTY keyboard, and the addition of HTC's Straight Talk technology for better speakerphone quality and call management.
The Touch Pro2 eventually made the rounds to the four major carriers--T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and AT&T--where it continues to live up its reputation as a powerful business smartphone.
For reasons we don't understand, the HTC Touch Diamond2 didn't get as much love as the Touch Pro2. When we reviewed the unlocked version, we absolutely fell in love with the high-quality design, improved interface, and solid performance and couldn't wait for it to hit the U.S. carriers.
Sadly, it only hit AT&T and it was mostly a miss. Renamed the HTC Pure, the smartphone went through a slight makeover that took it from extraordinary to ordinary.
The LG Arena was one of the most popular devices announced at GSMA 2009, and it's not hard to see why given the sleek S-Class 3D interface, 3-inch WVGA touch screen, and advanced multimedia features. Unfortunately, it never made its way Stateside, though you can buy it unlocked for around $300.
First debuting at GSMA 2009, the Samsung i890 Omnia HD turned heads with its gorgeous touch screen and high-end multimedia features. It never came to the U.S., but Samsung kindly provided us with an unlocked version of the device to try out, and now, we kind of wish they hadn't.
With its awesome 3.7-inch AMOLED capacitive touch screen, 8-megapixel camera with HD video recording and playback, smartphone capabilities, heaps of storage, and a much improved TouchWiz interface, it was hard for us to send this puppy back and we don't exactly have an extra $700 lying around to get one of our own.
The Sony Ericsson Satio (previously known as the Idou) was just a concept phone when it debuted at GSMA 2009, but we were able to get a brief look at its design and user interface and came away with a favorable impression. We never got a chance to check out the final product, but the user reviews don't seem so favorable.
Sometimes, it's the little things that count. The Sony Ericsson W995a debuted at GSMA 2009 and it wasn't so much its 8.1-megapixel camera and a Walkman player that excited us but rather the fact that it had a 3.5mm headset jack and a kickstand. Keep in mind that before the w995a, Sony Ericsson subjected its users to a proprietary headset jack and you'll understand our joy, too.
Like a lot of the phones in this collection, the W995a was released unlocked, which is great in terms of carrier freedom, but not so much for your wallet. It's available through Sony Style stores and online for as low as $380. For the money, you get a pretty full-featured music phone but it also come with some design and performance issues.
Nokia's E series of business phones always impressed us and the Nokia E75 was no different. In this day and age where touch-screen devices and slate QWERTY messaging phones dominate the market, the E75's design was a refreshing change. And it's not just about the looks; the smartphone offers a robust e-mail experience and productivity tools. Originally priced at around $530, you can now find it online for around $200.
After announcing the new E series devices on the opening day of GSMA 2009, we thought we had heard the last from Nokia but the company had one more trick up its sleeve: the Nokia N86 8MP.
Aside from sporting an 8-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and 20x digital zoom, the N86 also offered panorama mode, variable aperture (F2.4, F3.2, F4.8), and a 28-millimeter wide-angle lens. A North American version of the N86 8MP was finally released in September 2009, and though we were impressed by its photo and video quality, the $500 unlocked price made the handset feel like more of a luxury item than a necessity, especially considering that the Samsung
Memoir and the Sony
Ericsson Cyber-shot C905, both 8-megapixel camera phones, could be had for much less with carrier contracts
Oh, what a bumpy road it's been for Garmin. After numerous delays and being relegated to seeing the Nuvifone from behind a glass case the first year, we finally got some hands-on time with the GPS manufacturer's first smartphone at GSMA 2009. Though still in the testing stage at that point, we were impressed with the user interface and features and walked away with high hopes. Boy, were we wrong.
The Garmin Nuvifone G60 was finally released on October 4, 2009, through AT&T and though it passed as a navigator, it absolutely failed as a smartphone. It had limited capabilities, not to mention a confusing user interface and temperamental accelerometer, which made us wonder if the company would be better off designing an app for
smartphones rather than coming out with its own hardware.