Verizon, Motorola crossbreed the Droid

Verizon Wireless(s VZ)(s VOD) didn’t unleash an army of new Android(s goog) and Windows Phone(s msft) LTE devices at CES like its archrival AT&T (s T), but the handful of gadgets it did unveil Monday are worth noting. Motorola (s mmi) announced a new Droid for Verizon’s(s vz)(s vod) LTE network that appears to be a combination of all the Android smartphones Moto has released to date, as well as an oddly fatter version of its ultrathin Razr. Meanwhile, LG kicked in what can only be termed a ‘movie phone’, Samsung brought its new Galaxy Tab 7.7 to the U.S. and even RIM (s RIM) chipped in a new BlackBerry Curve.
Motorola’s LTE Droid 4, like the other Moto Droids before it, has a fold-out qwerty keyboard. Its hardware specs have improved with a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM and an 8 megapixel camera, which records 1080p video, but not much has changed in its software specs. It sports Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), but Motorola said it will eventually take the upgrade to 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich, as will all of its new CES devices. The Droid 4 also mimics the Droid Bionic and Atrix in that it supports Webtop, hooking into Motorola’s lapdoc shell. Finally, Motorola is borrowing form the Razr’s playbook, adding support for Smart Actions, which allows users to automate power and application management.
Smart Actions was designed to account for the Razr’s remarkably thin battery, but apparently energy management wasn’t enough. Moto also unveiled a duller version of the Razr on Monday, called the Razr Maxx. At 8.99 mm (compared to 7.1 mm for the regular Droid Razr), the phone is still remarkably thin, but all of that extra space is devoted to a larger battery. Verizon and Motorola claim the Maxx will run 21 hours straight on a single charge.
LG’s contribution was a video-centric phone called the Spectrum, which utilizes the same in-plane switching technology as LG’s HD TVs. Like several of the new HD phones shown by AT&T, the Android 2.3 Spectrum packs a lot of pixel depth with a 1280 x 720 display and power with a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon(s qcom) processor, but the Spectrum’s 4.5 inch display is matched perfectly to the 16:9 aspect ratio of true cinematic video. The picture isn’t distorted – it’s a really long phone. Verizon also announced an exclusive deal with ESPN (s DIS) to stream full HD 720p video clips to the device through ESPN’s ScoreCenter app. Spectrum buyers who also happen to sports fans should probably sign up for one of Verizon’s fatter data plans.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 was introduced at the IFA in Europe last year, but this is the first appearance of Samsung’s miniature tablet in the U.S., complete with an LTE chip. The ultra-slim and lightweight tablet isn’t that much bigger than the Galaxy Note for AT&T, but it’s officially a tablet — not a smartphone — and doesn’t use the Note’s stylus interface. But the Tab almost seems underpowered in comparison to the Note, boasting only a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor compared to the Note’s 1.5 GHz chip.
Finally, BlackBerry unveiled a new Curve with Verizon, which, apart from its GSM radios allowing for global roaming and its low $99 price, doesn’t have much to recommend it. RIM still hasn’t built a single smartphone with LTE embedded. Granted most people don’t use BlackBerrys for high-bandwidth data services, but at this rate they never will.