Nearly half of all American adults now own a smartphone, and the innovation on display at CES showed just how far these devices have come. Handsets are getting thinner even as their screens are getting bigger, prices are coming down, and the threat of water damage is being conquered with new waterproofing technology. Read on for the most exciting smartphones unveiled at CES 2013.
Yota Phone: E-Paper Screen Shows Content on the Back
When we first heard about the Yota phone, a 4.3-inch Android phone with a grayscale e-Paper display on the back, we were puzzled but intrigued by the concept. But after seeing a working prototype at CES, we’re excited about the new range of use cases this second screen presents.The back screen can serve as an eReader, an always-present alert system or a post-it note for your digital life.
Sony Xperia Z 1080p: Smartphone Plays Music Underwater
The new Sony Xperia Z combines current superphone staples like a 5-inch, 1080p screen and quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor with high-end imaging and the eye-catching ability to withstand being dunked in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. It can even stream your favorite tunes to a nearby Bluetooth speaker while submerged. Add in a new stamina mode for improved standby time and easy one-touch sharing with NFC devices, and you have the winner of our Best of CES 2013 Smartphone Award.
Lenovo IdeaPhone K900: World’s First Intel Clover Trail Phone
Lenovo's IdeaPhone K900 is spearheaded by a 2-GHz Z2580 Intel Clover Trail processor, making it the first dual-core powered smartphone from the chip giant. With its 5.5-inch, 1080p display, it enters phablet territory yet still manages to stay slim at just 6.9mm thick.
Huawei Ascend Mate: World’s Biggest Screen and Battery
The Huawei Ascend Mate is so big that we had to step back to fit it in the frame when shooting this phablet at CES 2013. At 6.1 inches, the Mate (coming to China in February and other markets thereafter) makes the iPhone 5 look like a Tic-Tac. Equally large and in charge is its 4050mAh battery. Huawei says the Ascend Mate should last for 14 hours of Web surfing, compared to 11.5 hours for the Samsung Galaxy Note II.
Pantech Discover: A Big-Screen Phone for the Masses
Big-screen phones used to be the sole domain of top-tier manufacturers like HTC and Samsung, but Pantech is flipping that paradigm on its head with its new 4.8-inch Discover. The Discover is about as budget-friendly as a smartphone can get, with a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM 8960 processor and 1GB of RAM for only $49.99 on a two-year contract.
Huawei Ascend D2: Crazy-High PPI, Shrugs Off Water
Huawei’s Ascend Mate is getting all the attention because it has a ginormous 6.1-inch display, but to us the Ascend D2 looks like the better of the two phones. Why? Because it crams 1080p resolution into a 5-inch display, giving this phone a crazy high 443 DPI. That’s higher than the iPhone 5 (326) and most Android handsets. This combined with attractive features like IPX water resistance, a 3000mAh battery and a 5-MP camera makes the Ascend D2 a highly competitive smartphone.
Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra: World’s Thinnest, Lightest Smartphones
Alcatel unveiled a slew of products at CES 2013, starting with the One Touch Idol Ultra. Weighing a barely-there 4.1 ounces and measuring 5.29 x 2.7 x 0.25 inches, Alcatel says the Ultra is currently the world’s slimmest smartphone, beating out the iPhone 5's 0.3 inches. The Idol Ultra also boasts a 4.7-inch AMOLED display, a 1.2-GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM and runs on Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). A 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and 8-MP rear camera round out the specs.