As CTIA Enterprise & Applications comes to a close, there were a few big trends that defined the event: the continued explosion of Android phones, more competition in the 4G wars, and renewed reports that the iPhone was coming to Verizon Wireless (we'll believe it when we see it). After spending three days scouring the show floor and meeting with lots of companies, we narrowed our favorite products and services to five top selections. So without further ado here is our favorite smart phone, app, wireless accessory, enabling technology, and software from the fall CTIA show, products that have the potential to shake up the mobile tech industry and inspire even more innovation.
Best Smart Phone: Motorola Droid Pro
In a sea of new Android phones, the Motorola Droid Pro stands out because it was built from the ground up for business users. Ideal for those looking to step up from a BlackBerry, this device sports a comfortable keyboard that’s always front and center, plus QuickOffice Mobile Suite for editing documents on the go. The Droid Pro also covers all the security bases, with remote wipe and password management, as well as data encryption right on the device (coming early next year). While the 3.1-inch screen is on the small side, this 1-GHz handset has plenty of power.
Best App: Heywire
It's expensive enough just to send text messages within your own country, but when you try to SMS across borders you get hit with exorbitant international charges. Fortunately, Heywire, a new app for iOS devices, gives you a distinct U.S. phone number you can use to send and receive free texts with friends around the corner or on the other side of the globe. Plus, it integrates with Facebook.
Best Enabling Technology: Verizon Wireless 4G LTE
Verizon Wireless has an answer to Sprint’s Mobile WiMax and T-Mobile’s HSPA , and it has the speed to beat the pants off of both of those technologies. The carrier has announced that it is rolling out its LTE network to 38 markets by the end of the year, promising blazing download speeds of 5 to 12 Mbps and uploads between 2 and 5 Mbps. Verizon Wireless is also lighting up 60 commercial airports from coast to coast. At first, devices will be limited to connection cards, but consumers will see 4G-enabled phones and tablets during the first half of next year.
Best Accessory: PCD Adapter for iOS Devices
A clever add-on for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, this $99 accessory makes it plug-and-play simple to stream the contents of your iOS device to the nearest TV. The PCD Adapter transmits 480p video to a receiver that’s connected to your big screen. While the range is limited to about 15 feet, the adapter has the potential to be a compelling low-cost alternative to Apple AirPlay devices this holiday.
Best Software: SPB Mobile Shell 5.0
No, you can’t download it, but if SPB has its way its slick and intuitive 3D user interface for Android, Symbian, and Windows Mobile devices could get rolled out by smart phone makers and/or carriers next year. During our hands-on time with a Samsung Galaxy S phone, we were impressed by the speed of this UI, as well as the ability to access the contents of folders and widgets with very little menu digging. SPB Mobile Shell 5.0 is beautiful, fast, and fun, and we hope to see it on shipping phones soon.