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CES 2013 preview - it's all about the Full HD smartphones (and 7-inch tablets)
It’s never easy to get straight back to work after the oh so relaxing holiday vacation (what with the headaches and all), but like it or not we who are involved with technology don’t get to smoothly resettle to the action.
Instead, we have to sink our teeth directly into one of the most important and glamorous yearly trade shows in technology, traditionally held at the beginning of January. But why not admit it, we love Las Vegas’ CES probably more than anything in the whole wide world, and, even when we’re not fully recovered from the holiday madness, we adore reporting on everything that’s on display there.
2013’s CES is no exception, despite early signals that say there’s not going to be much Android-related excitement in Vegas between January 8 and 11. “Much” being the key word here, we can certainly hope to be treated with loads of new treats, which could include an array of new full HD smartphones, a couple of uber-cheap 7-inch tablets and more.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and take the major Android OEMs one by one and see what we’re expecting from each. Warning: very little of what we’re going to talk about in the following lines is set in stone, so handle with caution and big amounts of salt.
We all love the occasional juicy rumor mongering even when we know there’s very little truth to it, but let’s face it – there’s little to no chance to see the Galaxy S4 on display at CES 2013. The S3 and S2 have both seen daylight in the spring and there’s simply no way Sammy will spoil the tradition by so much.
However, rumor has it that the S4 will be present in Vegas behind closed doors and that actually sounds plausible. And while we highly doubt any member of the press will be invited at this executive preview, you never know when someone can spill the beans and offer the entire world an unexpected sneak peek.
Now, about Samsung devices that we think will be on display for the world to see. These include several budget-oriented phones, like the Galaxy Young Duos, GT-B7810 and Galaxy Frame, a mid-range Galaxy Note 7 tab, but very likely also some Tizen-based gadgets.
Not very exciting, you say? Well, how about some more advanced prototypes with flexible AMOLED panels, a cheaper Galaxy Note 2 “phablet” or a 13.3-inch Asus Transformer contender? Much better, right?
You might have not expected Sony to be the number two on our list a while ago, but with the Xperia Z and ZL all but confirmed for CES intros it’s hard to not be excited. There’s also a mid-range “HuaShan” phone supposedly coming soon, but we think that little guy will be saved for MWC in February.
No words on any new tablet entries from the Japanese, but who knows, maybe they’ll want in on the 7-inch budget-friendly fun as well.
Just like Samsung’s Galaxy S4, HTC’s next flagship, codenamed M7, is also tipped to make an appearance at CES. And while some pretty reliable sources seem convinced that’ll be the case, we just don’t think so. The One X+ got out in October last year, the Droid DNA one month later, so it’s simply too early for HTC to again unveil a high-end phone. But what do we know, right?
A couple of other upcoming HTC handhelds have been making the rumor rounds lately too, including the Opera UL or Facebook phone, but we doubt we’ll be seeing any of that either. So will HTC be completely silent during CES? Possibly, but then MWC should be spectacular.
Though the Optimus G is not itself an old and dusty smartphone, chances are LG will be looking to introduce the G2 during CES. We’ve seen a number of rumors on the topic lately, all agreeing on the Full HD display of the beast, but not on the diagonal size.
We’re not expecting any other new LG devices to be presented in Vegas, although the Korean company might have some surprises in store in the SoC and display areas.
Nexus 7’s co-branders are almost certainly looking towards the future of the niche, so expect at least a couple of new 7-inch tabs to see daylight. One of this could even be a new Nexus device, although we’re not too sure about that.
A higher-end 10-incher going by the name of ME301T MemoPad 10 is also all but confirmed to be unveiled during CES, although it’s not impossible to get an MWC push after all.
One of the OEMs that seem very keen on taking a piece of the 7-inch affordable pie from Asus, Google and Amazon is Acer, with the Iconia B (or B1) guaranteed to make an appearance. However, Acer’s CES 2013 might not be all about tablets for a change, with the V350 and V360 smartphones also set to officially pop up.
Besides a Baidu Cloud-powered phone and a couple of China-exclusive devices, Lenovo has been awfully quiet on the Android front lately. We don’t think we’ll be seeing the company get out of its shell very soon, although there are rumors that a full HD smartphone and an affordable 7-inch tab are coming at some point.
Huawei and ZTE
We would usually put the two Chinese companies in the “others” sections of our big trade shows’ previews, but this time Huawei and ZTE might actually have a lot more up their sleeves than the usual suspects. The Ascend D2 and Ascend Mate on one hand and the Grand S on the other are definitely coming and they’ll probably be spectacular.
But knowing Huawei and ZTE, they’ll probably not stop at only introducing top-tier devices with out of the world specs. We thus can also expect a bunch of low-end phones and probably even Android-powered tabs (both entry-level and high-end).
Despite having possible winners on their hands, we are listing Oppo and Xiaomi under the others category because we’re not even sure they’re going to make it to Vegas. Even if they’ll be present, their own 1080p beasts will be nothing more than ornaments for us Westerners (no offence), who are absolutely positively never going to see them in stores near us.
We’ve also saved a spot here for Toshiba because we’re not expecting any new devices from the company, while Polaroid and E Fun will definitely have something for us, but it’s nothing to get excited about. As for Pebble’s smartwatch, that’s not an Android-powered gizmo per se, but it does have some obvious links with our favorite mobile OS, so it’s worth a quick mention.
Outside our ecosystem we will probably be seeing some Windows 8-related movement, but, frankly, it’s not our job to care, is it? Finally, Motorola seems like a tough nut to crack, as it’s keeping a little too quiet on its future plans. The Droid Razr M HD is basically the only device rumored to be coming soon, but we think Moto will either have something else on display or nothing at all.
That’s it, folks, for the time being, but be sure to be tuning in to our website next week, when we’ll have loads of reports from the ground in Vegas from our own Darcy LaCouvee, Kris Wouk, Joshua Vergara and Derek Ross. In the meantime, drop us a comment below and tell us what are you most excited about and who do you think will be the star at CES.