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The best smartphones at CES 2019

CES is never a huge trade show for showing off smartphones, and the 2019 show in Las Vegas is no exception.

Published onJanuary 9, 2019

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has never traditionally been a place where major phone makers introduce new handsets. CES 2019 has been no exception to this rule. There were rumors Samsung might show off the Galaxy S10 at CES this year and reports we might see an LG foldable phone demoed as well. None of that happened.

So what new, or new-ish, smartphones showed up at CES 2019? Here’s a quick rundown of the few phones present.

Alcatel 1C and 1X

TCL showed off two budget smartphones under its Alcatel brand. The Alcatel 1C is the more affordable of the two, and reportedly will sell for under 70 euros (~$80) in emerging markets. It has some very low hardware specs, with a 4.95-inch display, just 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and a 2,000mAh battery. It also only works on 3G networks.

The other new phone is the Alcatel 1X, which has a larger 5.5-inch display and doubles the RAM and storage to 2GB and 16GB, respectively. It has dual rear cameras, with a 12MP primary sensor and a 2MP secondary camera. It also has a 3,000mAh battery, 4G wireless support, and will sell for under 120 euros (~$137). Both phones are due out later this year.

Rokit phones

ROKit lineup

Rokit is a new smartphone startup making a big debut at CES, funded in part by billionaire John Paul DeJoria. How big? It showed off five upcoming Android phones, all in the budget to mid-range in terms of prices.

Two of the devices are feature phones running a version of Android but without the Google Play Store. The Rokit One will only cost $35, and comes with apps like WhatsApp and Facebook pre-installed. It’s got a small 2.45-inch screen and can only connect to 3G networks.

The other feature phone is the Rokit F-One, a flip phone that will sell for $40. It actually runs the Android Go version of Android 8.1 Oreo, again with no Play Store. It also only supports 3G.

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The other three Rokit phones are pure Android devices with access to the Google Play Store. The Rokit IO Light will cost $90 and has a 5-inch display, but again it’s made just for 3G networks. The Rokit IO 3D is a much bigger step up, with a 5.45-inch 3D screen, and 4G support for $170. Finally, there’s the Rokit IO 3D Pro, with a 6-inch 3D display and 4G support, for $275.

Yes, the two highest priced Rokit phones both have 3D displays, allowing owners to view photos and videos with a 3D effect without needing special glasses. Both phones also can take 3D pictures. At the moment, Rokit is keeping much of the hardware specs for these phones secret. It says the three pure Android phones will all have dual-rear cameras, and bundled services like free international and domestic Wi-Fi calling and telemedicine consultations for a year, along with pharmacy savings, legal services, insurance and more.

The Rokit phones will be sold in the U.S. on its official website, but no launch date was announced.

Hisense U30

Hisense, a China-based company that’s known in the U.S. more for its big-screen TVs than its phones, quietly showed off a new phone, the Hisense U30, at their CES booth with a couple of interesting features. The phone has a large 6.3-inch display with a punch-hole 20MP front-facing camera, placed on the top left of the screen. It also has two rear cameras: a massive 48MP main sensor, and a secondary 5MP camera.

Inside, the phone is supposed to have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 processor, either 6GB or 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a big 4,500mAh battery. The Hisense U30 will reportedly launch in March 2019 in China, Russia and parts of Europe, but don’t expect it to be sold in the U.S.

nubia REDMAGIC Mars

ZTE’s nubia brand already announced the nubia REDMAGIC Mars in late 2018, but at CES 2019, the company confirmed the gaming phone will go on sale in the U.S. on Jan. 31 starting at $399. It will sell on its official website, and also go on sale in Europe as well. The phone will have a 6-inch, Full HD+ display, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, a 3,800mAh battery, and special shoulder triggers for that extra gaming edge. It will come in three models; one with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, one with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and one with a massive 10GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

Royole FlexPai

The Royole FlexPai was first introduced in late 2018, but the company came to CES 2019 to show off a market-ready version. This is the world’s first commercially sold smartphone with a folding flexible display — we’ve covered it quite a bit in the past few months. Royole beat out huge companies like Samsung and LG to bring us what may be the future of smartphone design. It will be interesting to see how this trend continues for the rest of 2019.

Samsung 5G phone prototype

We got to see the Samsung 5G prototype phone again at CES 2019, something we first saw in December at the Qualcomm tech summit. However, it was even less visible this time — displayed in a box on a wall — and its 5G module wasn’t even working. All in all, it was a disappointment.

And… that’s about it. CES 2019 was definitely light on phone launches this year, but there were plenty of other things you should check out. Be sure to stay tuned later this week for our CES 2019 awards!

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