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CES 2008: Cell phones and smartphones

Preview of what's to come in cell phones at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show.

We expect that CES will be a lot different from what it was last year, mainly because Macworld isn't happening at the same time. So instead of racing to cover a possible update to the iPhone, we'll be able to spend all of our time covering what's going on in Las Vegas.

Best of CES 2007: Cell phones and smartphones CNET Networks

As in recent years, we know that CES will be a busy few days for the mobile world. Though cell phones have to fight with every other gadget to get the world's attention, we still expect to find a lot of news on the show floor. As always, music phones and video phones will be a big part of the show, and while the iPhone won't be in Vegas (except in the hands of some of the attendees), at least one iPhone-like trend should predominate. In particular, we expect that we'll see some of the following:

Touch this
The iPhone wasn't the first cell phone to offer a touch screen, and it certainly won't be the last. At CES, and in 2008, we're sure well see more touch-screen handsets like the recent LG Voyager and Venus. Also on the design front, it appears the thin phone trend may be waning just a bit, and we're hearing rumors that we'll see new phones with crazy keypads. We'll have to wait and see.

T-Mobile 3G?
As any cell phone geek will tell you, T-Mobile is the only major carrier to lack a 3G network and a music downloading service. But in the past couple of months, T-Mobile put out two cell phone with 3G capability, the Samsung SGH-T369 and the Nokia 6263. Though we expect that a formal announcement of a wireless broadband network can't be too far behind, our gut tells us T-Mobile won't announce it at the show with so much else going on. But it could happen.

Unlocked phones
With the recent announcement from Verizon Wireless, it finally seems that unlocked phones are becoming a major force in the United States market. At CES, we suspect that unlocked phones will be plentiful. On a similar note, there should be more CDMA/GSM handsets like the Motorola Z6c.

Smartphones
Looking back, 2007 was another big year for smartphones. The release of Windows Mobile 6 brought a healthy helping of new devices from HTC, Samsung, and Motorola, among others, while Nokia, RIM, and Palm provided much competition with new models of their own.

The announcement of Google Android and the Open Handset Alliance has blown open the doors and made it a very exciting time for the cell phone industry. We don't anticipate the mass-market release of any Android smartphones just yet, but perhaps we'll get to see some prototypes and check out some applications. We'll also bring you a closer look at some announced-but-not-yet-released devices (at least in the States, anyway), such as the Nokia N82 and the HTC Touch Dual. Last, but not least, we expect to see more entry-level, consumer-friendly models as smartphones gain popularity with a wider audience.

Best of CES 2007: Verizon Wireless V Cast Mobile TV
What we said last year: Verizon Wireless joins with MediaFlo to create a truly innovative and watchable TV-on-phone experience. V Cast Mobile TV offers full-length, live television programming on selected handsets via a dedicated UHF signal. There's little of the pixilated, choppy effects of 3G video streaming, and audio/video syncing and channel switching are zippy.

What we think now: We continue to love V Cast Mobile TV. After three phones, it's still the best cell phone video around. We just wish it was running in more metro areas, the Bay Area in particular.