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Dialed In: The phones of CES 2013Join CNET's cell phone crew for a look at the phones and trends coming out this year.
-Hello everybody, welcome to this very special edition of the Dialed In podcast at CES. We are live here. We've got the whole cellphone crew. I'm Jessica Dolcourt, Senior Editor at CNET joining by Brian Bennett. -Yes, Brian Bennett. I also review phones for CNET.com. -We've got Kent German and Lynn La. And what we're gonna do is---- -Hello everybody. -Hello. -We're gonna tell you about all of the phones that we're seeing here. So basically, you guys, what have you been seeing in terms of themes? What showing? -Well, I think. Yeah, we're seeing a lot from minor players or at least players that we don't really know a lot about, we don't usually hear about at CES. You know---- but traditionally it's been Motorola, HTC, Nokia, and that low key Nokia had a big thing last year, Samsung---- we have one from Sony X and---- well two, they're kind of the same phone. And then we saw a lot from Alcatel, Huawei and ZTE. So a lot of smaller players that we're used to dealing with in the United States, they don't really have a huge presence with a lot of real high-end Smartphones but, they did make a presence here definitely. -What else are we gonna see in terms of the designs in the upcoming year. -Well, I mean, I can say that I've seen a lot of phones especially leading up to the show that have flush screens and edge-to-edge panels. And also a lot of phones with glass, you know, back plates which can be a little dangerous especially the way I treat my phones. So---- -Plus it's interesting 'cause the Sony Ericsson Xperia Z, I keep on calling at the end for some reason. You know, it does have the glass on the back which, you know, that came out on the iPhone and they get a lot of, you know, I think people now complain that they said, you know, it's dangerous 'cause a lot of people breaking it. So it's interesting they made that choice. -Right. Because it makes it look premium but then if you put a case on top of it, you kind of covering up the thing that you wanted to see in the first place. -And you kinda wanna---- -Put the case on it because it's just got a glass it's gonna break. -Right. -I don't know what they're thinking now but---- -Kinda like the---- it's definitely gonna fall and it's gonna break. -Yeah. Absolutely. -All about the things that we've seen are colors. It's like really surprising that we don't just see black and white and with the ZTE Grand S it comes in a lot of finishes. There's like a matte and a glossy finish but there's also yellow, red, pink and mint blue and it's very choco---- -We're inspired by your blazer. -Yeah. -Yeah and last night when I looked at the Lenovo K900 which is a new phone from---- and Lenovo announced yesterday that it has a fast Intel processor. They had a copper one and actually---- -Oh, wow. -You might think it's really got in and, you know, it catches too much light but it was actually a pretty cool. I liked it. I don't know how---- but it was sort of a special version they had [unk] in the box and I did get to touch it at one point. But it also lot of black. -Okay, you know, I've ever seen a copper phone before, diamond encrusted yes, copper no. -I would hate it if it turned green though, you know, copper turns green when it's out in the sun for too long. So anyway, but I did like that. I thought it was pretty cool. So we're also seeing a ton of a really large green phones. For example, I've get this Huawei Ascend right here, the 6.1-inch screen. It is massive. It is the size of my face. -You're gonna just put in LeBron's hands to make it look really small. -And so---- -Exactly. -What is the word we're not supposed to call it? -Fablet. -I like it. -What about [unk] I doubt when we have doubt on podcast one of our most loyal listeners hated the word Fablet and so---- that we couldn't use it. But it is kind of a word though. It's better---- I think it is a better way to describe these things. Are they tablets or phones---- -It's like my---- -It's my favorite portmanteau. It's like the perfect combination of those words. -It is quite perfect. I wish I have thought of it myself first, I almost did. But I think the point is that we're gonna start seeing these things. They're not just gonna be an anomaly anymore. They are going to be the phones that we see on the market. A lot of 5-inch screens, a lot of 6-inch screens, 5.5, 5.3 and a 4-inch screen or a 4.3-inch screen or 4.5-inch screen is gonna seem a lot smaller. -Yeah. I mean, remember when Smartphones first come out, you know, there were 3.5, 3.75. I think how small that is now, I mean, that's just---- -Yeah, the first iPhone. Well, yeah, the first many iPhones were 3.5. And that was I---- I look back on something I had written in 2007 talking about how that was an enormous display. -Yes, and that then 3 was the minimum and now it sort of like 4 is the minimum. So it is interesting. -Right, because we definitely have the touch. Also high higher resolution. So 1080p HD is going to be the standard for premium phones. Now, a lot of them out there are coming. -Right. I'm not---- just to mention this Grand S again. This is a full HD phone. Again, here are the colors but this is like the---- -Yeah. It's the---- it's like everyone---- everything is looking like a little bit of the Lumia a little bit. But all these colors and it's the edge-to-edge screen that you're talking about and it's just---- it's kind of big. It's really big. But a lot of people like that and now we're seeing like the original iPhone it's too small. So everyone's---- So I'm wondering why it's taken so long to kinda cut down on that bezel. All right. A lot of the times the screens were smaller. You have a lot of housing on the side of it. You didn't have the edge-to-edge but it seems like that something we could've had years ago and we're only seeing it now, really. -[unk] component that manufacturers are getting better making component smaller things like batteries, things like antennas. I mean the antenna, you know, usually it takes up so much space 'cause it's around all the sides or it's down at the bottom or many it's up at the top. And they're making those things a lot smaller. They're making the sim card a lot smaller with a micro sim and the nano sim. So---- and then of course it helps to make the battery bigger but the consequence of that also is that they are able to take that display and really bump it up and make it nice. -So also quad-core processors. There's what going to be the new standard for high-end Android phones. And Windows phone they just announced support for multi-core so we're seeing dual core with those. You're gonna see a lot more quad-core, NVIDIA and Qualcomm had some quad-core new Samsung also is developing a chip. There's a new player called Media Tech. Well, they're not new to chipsets but they're new to quad-core, they're out of Taiwan. So we're gonna start seeing some phones like that too. There is an Alcatel phone that was announced here. -Yeah. -That is not only the fitness center on the market right now. I think it comes on it. -For the next week or so. -For the next week. It's---- -Then there's still gonna be something else, but---- -Yeah, it's like 0.25-inch thick. It's really, really slim. And that also is the first one to have this Media Tech processor. And processors are important of course because it matters on how smooth the video you're watching is or the game that you're playing and how quickly your tasks actually complete. So that's gonna be a big selling point. So we've actually seen a lot of the handsets. Why don't you show with us some of the favorite ones that you guys seeing? -Well, the first one I saw was the Sony Ericsson Xperia Z and I think Brian got a---- kind of a special demo for us here. It's pretty exciting. -Here we go. So this guys is the---- this is the Sony Xperia Z, was announced at the show here. It's actually one of the nicest Sony phones I've seen in a long time. As you can tell, it has that seem edge-to-edge panel here. It's very flat. The buttons are flush with the sides of the phone and also on---- -Well except for that start button. -That is great button. -That start button. -Yes. -That's the power button. -They hold out this power button here to, you know, highlight it with a, you know, a big silver circle. I don't know if you can see that from here. -Guys [unk] and online, you probably can't help it. This is actually really classic looking phone with some interesting details on the edges that you really see up close. -That's right. -And Sony is usually very good with their displays. They always have been. And this is a great example of something that it's really bright. It's really rich and vibrant. And the thing about the display of course is how this it affect the battery life, how this affect the processor, but I think this one has good---- a lot of promise. -I wanna know how this fish bowl is going to affect the battery life. -Okay. So basically, one of the features---- besides this being a quad-core Snap Dragon device, HD resolution screen and all that. It also is water-resistant. So, technically you could drop this phone into this thing of water here just like this, it's on. There it goes. -Are we gonna call it? -Well, you know, no I'm not gonna sit here for like 30 minutes. -I don't think we wrote the number unfortunately. -That's true. But, you know, you can see that it's gonna be fine. Hopefully there won't be too many bubbles coming out of it as it sits there. So we can take it off---- -The screen is still on. -The screen is still on and everything. -Basically, this is water-resistant, it's not water-proof but it supposedly will, you know, can survive a little dunk and that's good especially if, you know, judging how many people actually use their phones in the bathroom which, you know---- I'm not admitting. I'm just saying that people do that. -So maybe not in the pool or if you drop it in the pool, you might have a little problem. -Yeah. You don't wanna go diving with it. You don't wanna go snorkeling this is not the phone. -Get all the core, yeah. -Can't really do much with it underwater anyways. So---- -That's true. Yeah. How much the music can make a call? -You could live stream your fish encounters. What about Lynn? We [unk] you away. -I have the ZTE Grand S right here. Now, the specs are very good for ZTE phones. I mean, it has a quad-core and a 5-inch screen. It's nothing that we haven't seen before on other phones, but this is high-end when it comes to ZTE it has a full---- -You can send the US market, they don't usually go for the high-end, right? -Right. Yeah. It's---- in the US, it's usually known for the mid to entry-level phones. -Yeah. [unk] your PCS or Cricket or---- -Cricket wireless and things like that. -Pre-paid phones that small Android phones but nothing quite like this. -This---- yeah this is like an entry for the high-end phones in the US and there's no carrier announcement yet and there isn't---- there's no carrier announcement or pricing but s you can see it has a really nice screen and ZTE put on its user interface there, it's called MiFavor. Usually we see like a really skinless kind of Android experience. This one is running Jellybean so you do know it is running like a recent version of Android. And it's just really---- a really nice phone. On the back, there's a 13 megapixel camera which is, you know, really high and---- yeah, and it's basically, it's really good. It's a unit body construction so it's very solid and so---- -And do we get availability on that one? I don't---- I can't remember. -It's gonna come in China in the first quarter or either the end of first quarter or the beginning of the second quarter. And after that, it's gonna hit the US but we don't know when that will happen. -And what was the thing they said during the press conference about traditional Chinese design? -Like there is a release before that came out. It said that it was going to show like the traditional Chinese style and we didn't know what that meant until later during the press conference they said that they were inspired by Chine---- like traditional Chinese ink colors for the colors of the phone. So mystery solved I guess. That was---- -Yeah, but---- -I would like to see a document written in [unk]. -Right. -If I see like an ancient Chinese girl in pink and yellow like, call me and let me know 'cause I really like it. -So actually you brought something up the camera megapixels. We are seeing a lot more of those too not just 8 megapixel cameras but 12 and 13. And just because you have the megapixels doesn't mean that your photo quality is gonna be good either because there are so many things that go into actually making quality photos, there's imaging, there's lens size, all of that good stuff. -Well then---- -There's one thing I wanted to mention really quickly. This Xperia Z also has a 13 megapixel camera and it also has a back side illuminated sensor so it has an HDR mode that also works while you're shooting video as well as taking still so there's something that's pretty interesting to see. I don't think any other phone that I know can do that right now. -Yeah [unk]. What's interesting about the megapixels is that, that is the thing that something's crept up as well it used to be. You know, I was working at CNET when we have the first 1.3 megapixel camera. So, right now, old dates me but, you know, it was all VGA and then we have the first 1.3 and I was like, oh, my god that was so cool. And then they came out with 2 and now it's the minimum. And we're really at this high. You know, and I know, do you think at the show we saw a lot of, you know, what's happening in the phones right now is just the little bit that feature create---- where the features are kinda been throwing in the phone. They maybe not really tested them, maybe not really work all that well and they certainly have nothing to do with making a call which is of course is what a phone is all about. Do you think we're seeing that? -No, not anymore. -Not anymore. -No, that's like a tertiary feature now. -Yeah, I know making call is a bit---- it didn't seem like a lot of these phones had features that we really haven't seen before. -True. I think that most of the time what we're seeing is sort of everybody kinda coming up with the new standards in the new high level and status quo. Here at the show, we don't get a lot of time and we definitely don't get the lighting to go out and actually test things like the camera. So, all of that comes later when we can actually take a back to the offices and get some really some time with it. So right now the specs sound good but what is that actually gonna do when it's in your hand performing in. That's what we find out after CES. -Yes. -And that brings me to a phone that really grabbed my attention. It is called the Yotaphone. We have a little bit of video. -And it's not Yoda right? -It's not a Star Wars reference, it's actually Yota. -Got it. Okay. -So there's a Russian company Yota Devices and they make this. It's a prototype. They just announced it in early December. What is so interesting about it---- they don't have it on the stage but I do have a video. -It's not Yoda---- -And the video is playing now. It's got Android on the front, looks like an Android Jellybean Smartphone, very high-end specs. If you flip it around to the back and there's an E Ink display. And it's---- -So that's the technology based on a Kindle, right? -Exactly. So it sort of like a paper displays. It looks really monochromatic almost like faded newspaper stuck on as a sticker. It looks really bazaar but the concept is really cool and it's interesting to me because this is something that nobody else is really working on. Nobody has really thought to do this. That could be a good or a bad thing in the end but the idea is that it's really low power. So if you're running out of battery or if you wanna conserve your battery, you can sort of put the thing that you wanna look at all the time on the back like a map or maybe it's a picture of someone or a boarding pass. -It makes sense to me too because, a lot of times you want an e-reader just for reading books in direct sunshine, you know, you can't do that with a lot of these tablets or larger Fablets or whatever. You know, it's hard to read on vacation. So this way you can actually have 2 devices in one and it seems like it doesn't look very much thicker than a regular phone, right? I mean---- -It's a little bit thick but it's not super thick. It's no thicker than the thickest out right now. -I don't think I'm a fan of that game technology that fortunately we're probably not gonna see the phone for a long time, right? -Well, it supposed to come in the back half of 2013 to Russia first and then the other markets. The company is in talks with US carriers but it could and that being [unk] or it could end up being terrible in real implementation but what's exciting is that they're doing a lot of things and are adding other design elements too that nobody else is really trying and so they are gonna kind of push the forward. I think other people or other companies are gonna see their design and start thinking more out of the box so that we don't get a lot of phones that are beautiful but all looked the same. We will get something different. -Yeah, and something we just never seen before which we always like, right? -We love it. -So what about phones that do we see anything here that is actually yes it will come to the United States first---- you know, we will actually be able to hold it in our hands in the next year? -All right, yeah. So I've got some of these Huawei phones here. This is the Huawei Ascend W1 in the US will just be called the W1. It's a Windows phone, it's in fact they are first Windows phone 8 device. Really colorful, might reminds you of some other phones that are out on the market. -Yeah, a little---- looks a little like a Lumia, don't you think? -Yeah. -Looks like a little---- and therefore, also like the HTC Windows phone 8x. -Absolutely, yeah. -But it is, it's a really nice looking phone and I think this is a trend that we're seeing as that Windows phone are gonna be colorful, bold statements that's kinda where they're going right now. -Well, really not just the entire interface in a lot of ways. So---- -Exactly, exactly. So---- -And then we talk the Samsung Ativ Odyssey. That wasn't a phone, that was announced here but it was actually announced at a Win---- Microsoft event in New York in October but it's Verizon's---- -In San Francisco. -Oh, that's right. Verizon's second Windows phone right? -Or third even. But it was---- -Yeah [unk] Verizon, yeah. -In the early Samsung Windows phone as well. So that's something that we're gonna see here. We've gotta go soon but let's talk really quickly about what we didn't see. -Well, phones one of the big players but, you know, Mobile World Congress which is a huge trade show coming up in February in Barcelona. These three will be there and we expect a lot, lot, lot from that shows if you're a big phone/mobile fan, check that for our coverage then. And of course---- -And so we are gonna wrap it up right now. Thank you so much for joining us.