Cellphone Makers Hit “Refresh” for 2008 Handsets
Screens are bigger, megapixels now start at 2, form factors are lighter and skinnier, and there are more reliable options for content-on-the-go...but the latest handsets on display this week at CTIA 2008 in Las Vegas are, overall, more “improved” than “new.” The good news is that flashy applications which worked fairly well in ‘07 cellphones, like live mobile TV broadcasts, are maturing, which, in the mobile industry, means they’re getting easier, faster and cheaper. The bad news is that there’s no one “Aha!” device (such as last year’s this-changes-everything iPhone) to text home about.
But just because mobile manufacturers are mostly refreshing their most successful models doesn’t mean handsets aren’t evolving. LG, for instance, is introducing the enV2, a more pocketable, less expensive version of their popular smartphone-with-sex-appeal. Both LG and Samsung, who last year rolled out TV phones partnering with Verizon, are this year introducing units which will channel AT&T’s “Mobile TV” offering, a live steaming signal (via MediaFlo) which will be available to subscribers nationwide this May. LG’s TV phone is called the Vu, an ultra-light full-touch black handset with a 3-inch viewing screen. Samsung’s, the Access, which looks remarkably like the Blackjack.
Motorola’s making a play for the burgeoning mobile GPS market with two new models that offer turn-by-turn directions in either voice or text. The Moto Z9, a slender slider, will work with “AT&T Navigator,” GPS and location-based services (like listing all the Starbucks in radius of you at all times) set to launch in May. The Moto Q 9C, a messaging-focused Blackberry-like handset, will use Verizon’s “VZ Nav” for similar purposes. Both carriers are expected to introduce mobile GPS to subscribers for a fee of $10/month, with a free 30-day trial first.