CTIA Phones: Some Hits & Misses

CTIA 2007, Orlando: It seems like the iPhone and the hits-driven handset business has prodded cell phone makers to move a bit further out of their comfort zones. And it is all on display at the CTIA wireless trade show that started Monday.

As we walked around CTIA’s opening-night party, we checked out some of the new handsets – some destined for the charts, and others well, into the discount bin. Here are our two cents (and hands-on reviews) on some of the new phones.


lgprada.jpgLG Prada — It might be the iPhone’s slightly less cool twin, but the touch screen LG Prada phone’s user interface is just as smooth. It reminded me of some of the newer Web 2.0 services, and in a few minutes makes you aware the truly bad state of the mobile UI. Anyone who passed the LG booth paused, and got a demo spending a few minutes gawking at the fluid interface.

sony-ericsson-z750-combo.jpgSony Ericsson’s Z750 — Despite being a basic feature phone, the HSDPA clamshell has a few nice touches that could make it a hit. It has a display with a hidden mirror effect when the clamshell is closed. It is also one of the first of Sony Ericsson’s phones that can post video blogs to Blogger.

LG VX9400 for Verizon VCAST — Broadcast TV may be old media, but it makes compelling viewing, especially if you have a soft spot for the TV show lineup. The phone’s design is far better than the rival Samsung offering, with a nice swing bar screen with built in automatic landscape switching mode. I’ve been watching Letterman for an hour or so. My parents wouldn’t be able to read the type on the screen, but if you insist on watching TV on your phone – this is the way to go.


upstage.jpgUpStage — Samsung’s device for Sprint’s network is like a mullet — business in the front and party in the back. Or vice versa, however your mood fits. It’s got two sides: one for calls and productivity and the other for music and entertainment.

The problem is that the side for calls is way boring and the side for music has a not-so-intuitive navigation pad. Both sides just didn’t seem good enough and the phone feels a bit schizophrenic. I was also always worried that I was getting the other side’s screen all oily with my greasy fingers.

HTC’s Advantage — It’s a laptop, its a phone (or at least has 3G and Wi-Fi) and you can use Microsoft Word and Excel for your productivity tools. Sounds good right? But the keyboard’s keys and angle just didn’t feel right for any kind of sustained typing. I tried to type like on a regular laptop as well as thumb texting. It just falls short on both accounts. Though the idea of the converged device does appeal to our sense; maybe the HTC Shift will prove better suited to my blogging-on-the-go needs, though it was safely under glass at the CTIA party.

Kyocera’s E5000 with the S-hinge –The E5000’s stainless steel S-hinge would look nice on a shelf with my grandma’s pewter Hallmark frames and silver kitty trinkets. And that’s not a good thing. Kyocera calls the hinge “a sculpted elegant look — the first of its kind.” More like a boring and basic design add, that adds nothing.