The Best of CTIA Spring 2011: 5 Winners Above the Rest

As another CTIA Wireless comes to a close, we pause not only to rest and relax from walking 20 miles in 2 days, but also to reflect on the things our hands played with and our eyes beheld. In retrospect, there were very few big surprises we weren’t expecting to see; most of the big phones, tablets, and other products/services were all leaked ahead of the show. But that doesn’t mean we were any more or less impressed with the aforementioned items than we would have been if no leaks had occurred.

So what new things at the show captured our hearts and minds? Keep reading on for a list of the big winners of this Spring’s CTIA Wireless.

1. Sprint

True to everyone’s expectations, Sprint was a powerhouse this week. After Sunday’s news that AT&T is planning to acquire T-Mobile, Sprint had to work a little harder than planned to be the most buzzed-about part of the show. The EVO 3D and EVO View 4G were definitely on the schedule and the most anticipated announcement of CTIA, but Sprint didn’t stop there. The Nexus S 4G was announced, the Blackberry Playbook will be getting WiMax built in, and Sprint’s integration of Google Voice may be the single most significant announcement at the show (besides the merger, of course) because of its importance to how it will shape the future of the mobile industry.

And finally, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse was the hero of the show, leading off Tuesday morning’s CEO keynote address with a Chuck Norris-style roundhouse kick to AT&T’s and Verizon’s face, firing off the best one-liners against his competitors. But he didn’t stop there. Hesse made more quips at the EVO press event later that day, referring to his 4G competition as “faux G”. Hesse clearly was the most outspoken person at the conference, and we appreciate the fact that he did not try to hide his feelings and opinions, or beat around the bush on the major issues.

2. T-Mobile

Talks of being acquired didn’t stop T-Mobile from releasing an onslaught of devices and services. You couldn’t tell just by stopping by their booth at the show since it was rather small and unimpressive, but several press announcements and releases came from T-Mobile this week that confirm that the fourth largest wireless carrier isn’t rolling over and playing dead yet.

This week T-Mobile launched the LG G2X, the company’s first dual-core phone; the G-Slate Honeycomb tablet, their first Android 3.0 tablet and first device with 3D capabilities; the Sidekick 4G, the first Sidekick running on Android; the affordable Nokia Astound; its very first MiFi hotspot, and its first data stick capable of running the company’s brand-new 42 Mbps HSPA+ data service. T-Mobile didn’t waste any time making sure its services compete well with the best in the business.

3. HTC

The smartphone OEM had a great showing at CTIA this year, showcasing the EVO 3D and EVO View 4G mainly but also announcing an exclusive deal with Best Buy to launch the WiFi-only HTC Flyer in the US. Lastly, AT&T announced its intentions to launch the HTC HD7S, which is an AT&T-branded HD7 but with a higher-res Super-LCD display. All this just a few days after HTC’s Thunderbolt LTE phone launched on Verizon.

4. Samsung

Samsung only gets a mention here because of the Galaxy Tab. We knew the Tab 8.9 was going to be announced as early as a couple weeks ago when the teaser “78910” came out, but we were treated to a few unexpected but welcome surprises: the inclusion of a new version of Samsung’s Touchwiz UI on Honeycomb; both the Tab 8.9 and 10.1’s thickness was adjusted, bringing the tablets down to 8.6 mm thin (thinner than the Xperia Arc or iPhone 4); and the pricing of the WiFi version of both devices was announced at very competitive prices. We got to handle the new Tabs, though we could not turn them on, and came away very impressed by how light and easy to handle the Tab 8.9 is. It was definitely my favorite tablet of the show.

5. Wysips

The only company to truly come out of nowhere at CTIA to introduce a revolutionary technology (and blow our minds as a result) was Wysips, a French startup, and they showed off a prototype of something that could forever change the way we need to charge our phones (if there are enough interested buyers).

(image courtesy Laptop Mag)

Wysips showed off its new solar charger that is transparent and is meant to just sit on top of your phone’s screen, much like a screen protector does. Whether you are inside under a lamp or outside under the sun, these new screens can pick up that solar energy and use it to trickle-charge your phone while it’s just sitting there. It won’t provide enough juice to replace your charger completely, but it will for sure extend the life of your phone’s battery before it dies.

BONUS: Novatel Wireless

I only include Novatel here for selfish reasons. Novatel came out with very little at this particular show besides a couple new MiFi devices — one for Verizon LTE and one for Sprint WiMax — but they were my personal heroes, rescuing me from the depths of despair (which I was in because I had multiple issues with Verizon’s LTE service at the time – more on that later) and setting me up with a Sprint unit that they had lying around. I was incredibly touched by their willingness to help and their generosity, so they were my personal winners of the show.

Author: Brad Molen

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