Smartphones Were Plentiful, but Not Center Stage at CES

1 - Smartphones Were Plentiful, but Not Center Stage at CES
2 - Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Has 4.3-Inch Display
3 - Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Available for Preorder
4 - Asus PadPhone X Has 5-Inch Full HD Display
5 - Asus PadPhone Mini
6 - ZTE Grand S II
7 - Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G
8 - LG G Flex: A Curved Smartphone
9 - LG G Flex Has Power Button, Volume Rocker on Its Back
10 - Alcatel OneTouch Idol X+
11 - Lenovo Vibe Z
12 - ZTE Eco Mobius
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Smartphones Were Plentiful, but Not Center Stage at CES

by Michelle Maisto

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Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Has 4.3-Inch Display

Sony introduced the waterproof Xperia Z1 in September (T-Mobile will begin selling it online Jan. 13 and in stores Jan. 22) and, in keeping with the trend, followed with a smaller version, the Xperia Z1 Compact, at CES 2014. The Compact has a 4.3-inch display (versus the 5-inch on its big brother) but many of the same advanced camera technologies, including Sony's "G Lens," Sony's Exmore RS mobile image sensor and a "Bionz for mobile" image processor.

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Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Available for Preorder

The Xperia Z1 Compact is now available for preorder from "many third-party retailers across Europe," Sony announced Jan. 10. Associated promotions vary; some retailers are giving away a wireless headset with the phone, and others a Sony SmartWatch 2 or a 50 Euro reimbursement. Pricing is generally listed around $675.

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Asus PadPhone X Has 5-Inch Full HD Display

The first-ever Asus smartphone in the AT&T portfolio is the PadPhone X, which is hardly just a smartphone. It features a 5-inch full-HD display, but slips into a dock that transforms it into a 9-inch full-HD tablet. The PadPhone X supports LTE-Advanced technology, voice over LTE (VoLTE) and HD Voice, and runs Android KitKat. The dock charges the phone, so when in tablet mode, it gets twice the battery life. Pricing or availability details haven't yet been announced.

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Asus PadPhone Mini

Not to be left out, Asus also introduced a smaller version, the PadPhone Mini, a 4-inch smartphone that transforms into a 7-inch tablet with a 1,280 by 800 pixel display. It supports dual SIMs, runs Asus' ZenUI and has an Intel Atom processor, and an 8-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel camera up front for selfies. Together, they weigh 0.8 pounds. It will arrive during the second quarter, priced at $250; carrier information is still to come.

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ZTE Grand S II

The ZTE Grand S II is the company's first smartphone to feature its new voice-control technology, which can make it simpler to take group photos and selfies, and safer to accept or place a call while driving. ZTE calls it a "significant leap forward in man-machine interaction." It has a 5.5-inch display (1,080 by 1,920) for 401 pixels per inch, a 13-megapixel main camera, a 2.3GHz quad-core processor and ships with Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean). It will arrive in China in March for about $327 (without subsidy), and the U.S. and elsewhere later in the year.

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Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G

Huawei refreshed its giant phablet (which it launched last January as the world's biggest smartphone) and introduced the Ascend Mate 2 4G at CES 2014. Like it's predecessor, it has a 6.1-inch HD display, but new is the boosted chipset, the increased storage, the improved back (13-megapixel) and front (5-megapixel) cameras, the fact that it will be available in the United States and a "reverse"-charging feature that lets the Mate 2 4G charge other devices. Pricing has yet to be announced.

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LG G Flex: A Curved Smartphone

AT&T shared at CES 2014 that it will begin selling the LG G Flex during the first quarter. It is the first curved smartphone for the U.S. market and has a 6-inch HD polymer organic LED (P-OLED) display (1,280 by 720) that curves itself slightly from top to bottom, putting the speaker closer to a user's mouth (like telephones used to).

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LG G Flex Has Power Button, Volume Rocker on Its Back

The LG G2, the Flex's power button and volume rocker are on its back, around where a user's forefinger lands when gripping the phone. It runs Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) and a 2.26GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, has a 13-megapixel main camera and 2.1-megapixel front camera, and provides an "immersive video experience with reduced glare," according to AT&T.

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Alcatel OneTouch Idol X+

Alcatel is another vendor tweaking away. Following the OneTouch Idol X and Idol Mini is the Idol X+, which features an edge-to-edge, "0 bezel" 5-inch 1,080p display, a 13.1-megapixel 1,080p main camera and a 2GHz octa-core processor for "smooth Web browsing, immersive gameplay and compelling 3D graphics," but also "frugal" power consumption, according to Alcatel. With recent news that the Idol X and Idol Mini are headed for Virgin and Bell, it's not unthinkable that Alcatel's new powerhouse could also soon make it to North America.

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Lenovo Vibe Z

Although the Lenovo Vibe Z wasn't made for the U.S. market, a follow-up device could be, as Lenovo works to grow its smartphone sales beyond primarily China. The impressive Vibe Z features a 5.5-inch 1,920 by 1,080 full-HD display, runs Android 4.3 and a 2.2GHz Snapdragon processor, has a 5-megapixel up-front camera and a 13-megapixel camera with a BSI sensor on the back, and measures 7.9mm thin. (Consider that the Apple iPhone 5S, with its 4-inch display, measures 7.6mm thin.)

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ZTE Eco Mobius

Introduced late last year and displayed for the first time at CES 2014, the Eco Mobius is a concept device that may—along with Phonebloks and Motorola's Project Ara—represent the future of smart devices. Instead of upgrading and tossing devices, users may be able to replace just the outdated components, from the RAM to the phone to the processor. In the case of the Eco Mobius, these are held in place by fixed magnets. Motorola says it already has a prototype.

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