Smaller smartphone companies use CES to unveil new products

The International Consumer Electronics Show is well known for companies using its worldwide stage to launch the next best thing in consumer electronics, especially smartphones. But this year’s show in Las Vegas is bereft of major smartphone news from the big companies.

Instead, smaller companies and companies looking to expand in the United States have stepped into the spotlight.

Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company, is using CES to introduce a series of high-end smartphones, aimed at challenging Samsung. Other companies – TCL Communications and Pantech – are using CES to unveil new products.

Huawei unveiled its new Ascend Mate, calling it the world’s largest smartphone with a screen that measures 6.1 inches diagonally. Its size is slightly bigger than Samsung’s Galaxy Note.

The Ascend Mate has an HD screen, along with an 8-megapixel camera and a large 4,000mAh battery and quad-core processor.

Whether it places Huawei among the big boys – Apple, HTC, Motorola and Samsung – is an open question. But Huawei expects the Ascend Mate to eventually challenge the Galaxy Note.

Huawei’s booth inside the Las Vegas Convention Center is designed to send a message to its competitors, a company spokeswoman said.

“Our booth is twice as long as last year,” said Jannie Luong, Huawei’s senior manager, public relations. “It’s a change for the company. A lot of it has to do with creating brand awareness in the United States.”

Huawei also displayed its Ascend D2, a 5-inch smartphone. The Ascend D2’s screen features 442 pixels per inch, a higher resolution than the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Apple’s iPhone 5, which has 325 pixels per inch.

The phone, which is dust- and water- resistant, has a 13-megapixel camera. The Ascend D2’s battery is a 2,000mAh device, which typically lasts for 2 days.

Luong said the Ascend D2 is being launched this month in Russia. A release date for the U.S. and pricing have not been announced.

The company may not have largest presence, but it does business in the U.S. through local carriers, providing back-end telecommunication services, although it lacks network relationships with carriers.

Huawei has not announced carrier deals for either phone, though it’s talking with U.S. network providers. The Ascend Mate and Ascend D2 are available online to order.

TCL Communications came to Las Vegas to show off its Alcatel One Touch brand in the United States. as it tries to build presence in the smartphone market. The company expects to expand its U.S. sales in 2013 through new deals with tier-one network carriers.

The three new phones are the One Touch Idol, One Touch Idol Ultra and the One Touch Scribe HD. The Idol Ultra is seeking the title for world’s thinnest smartphone, coming in at just 6.45 millimeters thick.

The One Touch Scribe HD has a 5-inch HD display; the One Touch Idol weighs just 3.88 ounces.

Pantech’s surprise at CES is the Discover, available from AT&T on Jan. 11 for $50 with a new two-year agreement.

“Pantech is taking 2013 by storm with the launch of Discover,” said Gary Cherner, Pantech’s vice president of marketing and sales. “By launching products as very competitive price points, (we are) continuing to prove that high-quality smartphones don’t need to come with a high price tag.”

The Pantech Discover is equipped with a 4.8-inch, 720 pixel display, and 12.6-megapixel camera.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at
csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.
Follow @sierotyfeatures on Twitter.

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