Smartphones at CES 2013: Gotta have more quad-core

Smartphones are always hot at CES, and this crop should bring faster processors with more Android oomph.

Jessica Dolcourt
Jessica Dolcourt Editorial Director / CNET Franchises, How-To, Performance Optimization
Jessica Dolcourt leads the CNET Franchises, How-To and Performance Optimization teams. Her career with CNET began in 2006, and spans reviews, reporting, analysis and commentary for desktop software; mobile software, including the very first Android and iPhone apps and operating systems; and mobile hardware, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of practical advice on expansive topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
Expertise Team leadership, audience engagement, iPhone, Android, iOS, tips and FAQs.
2 min read

Nokia Lumia 900
The Nokia Lumia 900 made its U.S. debut at CES 2012. CNET

Note: This article originally posted December 5, 2012 and updated on December 21, 2012.

The gigantic CES trade show in Las Vegas is a few weeks off, promising previews of new handsets you may consider for your own pocket.

I expect that all the usual suspects will have something to announce in one capacity or another, save perhaps for Nokia, which just launched its Lumia 920 and Lumia 820-series phones.

Less bang, more buck-conscious
Nokia is a perfect example of handset-makers' relatively new trend of saving flagship smartphone launches for their own events in New York, San Francisco, and London. That's a change from last year, when Nokia used the crowded CES stage to make a bid for its U.S. comeback with the Lumia 900.

This year, however, the struggling phone maker may have a much smaller presence, simply showcasing its products, trumpeting wireless charging, and perhaps rolling out a few Lumia-specific apps.

Others, like Samsung, will also hold off on releasing a flagship device so close to opening sales of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the larger Galaxy Note 2. However, Samsung handsets will definitely make an appearance.

In general, I think we'll see more of the budget and midtier smartphones holding down the fort, with a sprinkling of premium devices as handset manufacturers reserve their best stuff for events that they control from start to finish.

Android 4.1, 4.2
Android has dominated CES' software and tablet categories for the past several years. This year will see a little more competition from Windows Phone 8, but Android will essentially remain on top.

Remember that Apple doesn't attend CES, but iOS will make its presence known in phone and tablet accessories, apps, and companion devices.

Expect to see the bulk of new smartphones carry Android 4.1 and Android 4.2.

More processing muscle
Quad-core processors are toeing into high-end smartphones, like the LG Nexus 4, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, and the HTC One X+.

Not only will we see far more quad-core processors at CES, we'll likely start seeing even more cores pile up in demo devices, starting with tablets. Nvidia has already scheduled its press conference, and has long shared its plans to exponentially expand multicore devices through its mobile Tegra chipset for tablets and phones. Beyond that, alleged leaks point to even more graphics power in Tegra 4.

Fujitsu, quad-core, Tegra 3
Brian Bennett/CNET

Last year, Fujitsu surprised us all by offering the first demo of a working quad-core phone running a game. While that was an impressive feat of engineering, remember that more processing cores aren't always better if they don't efficiently manage the battery while offering turbo-boosted speed.

No BlackBerry 10 devices
We already know that RIM will launch BlackBerry 10 smartphones on January 30, after CES is long over.

Although RIM will keep the real handsets far, far away from Las Vegas, do expect to see the company show off its favorite new software features on demo devices.

Stay tuned for more CES news and updates to this CES smartphone preview.