Still clinging to the idea that RIM has something to offer that Google and Apple don't? We applaud your dedication. And so does the BlackBerry Torch 9850 ($TBA). Running BBOS 7, the new Torch boasts a 3.7-inch display, 720p HD video capture, voice-activated search, and a bunch of other niceties that will make your other smartphone-owning friends think twice.
Step right up and enter the weird, wacky world of... luxury phones. The TAG Heuer Link Smartphone (€4,700; roughly $6,800) is the latest in a long line of insane handsets, using watch-worthy construction and materials like stainless steel, gold, diamonds, black PVD, titanium, rubber, calfskin and carbon leather, alligator, and lizard to augment its fairly pedestrian feature set that includes an 800x480, 3.5-inch screen, a five megapixel camera, GSM 3G, Bluetooth, aGPS, Wi-Fi, WAPI, and the "avant-garde" Android 2.2 operating system. Right.
If you're a masochist, or someone who simply likes buying dead technology, the Nokia N9 ($TBA) should be on your cell phone short list for 2011. Running the latest version of MeeGo — an OS that's already been left for dead — and sporting a suspiciously stacked spec sheet that includes a 16:9, 3.9-inch AMOLED screen, an eight-megapixel Carl Zeiss autofocus sensor and wide-angle lens, NFC technology, Dolby Headphone and Dolby Digital Plus support, and either 16GB or 64GB of internal storage, it's the anti-establishment handset of the year. Oh, and the entire interface can be navigated with just the swipe of a finger! How novel.
It's about damn time. After ten months of delays, Apple is finally releasing the long-awaited White iPhone 4 ($200-$300). Despite the long wait, you're looking at pretty much the same spec list as black iPhone 4 owners have been enjoying for nearly a year, including a five-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash and 720p video recording, a front-facing cam for FaceTime, the A4 processor, 512MB of RAM, 16 or 32GB of internal storage, a 960x640 Retina Display, and, of course, that infamous glass body with external stainless steel antenna. Just don't come crying to us when your family shows up around the holidays sporting shiny new iPhone 5s.
Yes, it's official: carbon fiber, once considered the coolest of materials, has now made its way to the mostly uncool world of Bluetooth headsets. Luckily, the Bluetrek Carbon Fiber Bluetooth Headset ($70) uses it to become ultra light and ridiculously thin, while still packing Bluetooth 3.0, voice alerts, multipoint technology, Noise Lock noise cancellation, easy pairing, and even battery status readout on the iPhone. Next up? Carbon fiber toilet seats.
After flooding the market with a different Galaxy phone for seemingly every carrier, Sammy's back with a single sequel. The Samsung Galaxy S II ($TBA) is a shockingly thin (8.49mm) smartphone powered by Android 2.3 Gingerbread and featuring a 4.27-inch, 480x800 Super AMOLED Plus screen, an 8MP camera with flash and 1080p HD video recording, speedy HSPA+ cellular data connectivity, Bluetooth 3.0+HS, Wi-Fi, GPS, Adobe Flash support, NFC connectivity, 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, and, of course, a 1 GHz dual-core processor. Notably missing: the kitchen sink.
We've been hearing about the damn thing for years, so we're more than happy to see that the Sony Xperia Play ($TBA) has finally left its cold, dark containment room. Otherwise known as the PlayStation Phone, the Play is powered by Android, and features slide-out gaming controls, a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor with Adreno GPU, a five-megapixel camera, a four-inch, 480x854 touch screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS, and access to PlayStation content through the PlayStation Suite store. Now all it needs are actual, you know, games.
If your pint-sized fingers find that normal smartphones make your hands look way too small, try on the HP Veer ($TBA) for size. This diminutive device sports a 2.57-inch display, a full slide-out keyboard, 8GB of internal storage, Wi-Fi, GPS, an 800 MHz Snapdragon processor, Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR, 3G GSM connectivity, a five-megapixel camera, and runs webOS. Full-size power in a decidedly not full-size package.
For anyone who's ever said, "damn, I wish my cellphone was more like my Nintendo DS," we present the Kyocera Echo ($200). Powered by a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and running Android 2.2, the Echo sports dual 3.5-inch touchscreen displays connected by a new pivot hinge that lets them run independently, side-by-side in Simul-Task or Optimized modes, or in a combined Tablet mode that turns the handset into a 4.7-inch single display — with a huge black thing in the middle, of course. Other features include 3G networking, Wi-Fi, a five-megapixel camera, 720p video recording, Bluetooth 2.1, 1GB of internal memory with microSD expansion, and the ability to convince luddites that your shrink ray has successfully been tested on a cheap laptop.
Pushing the limits of the terms "4G" and "world's most powerful" is the new Motorola Atrix 4G ($TBA). Running Android 2.2 and packing a host of high-end features like a 1 GHz dual-core processor, a "qHD" 960 x 540 screen, 1 GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage with a microSD slot for expansion, HSPA+, front- and rear-facing cameras, HD video capture, a biometric fingerprint reader for secure access, dual mics for noise-reduction, 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi 802.11n support, and a 1930 mAh battery, the Atrix also works with a new "laptop dock" for expanded multi-tasking and browsing with a full version of Firefox — but it still reminds us a little too much of the doomed Palm Folio. [Thanks, Jeff]
As if we didn't look dorky enough with Bluetooth headsets in our ears, along comes the Jawbone Era ($130) to kick things up a notch. Packing the company's chaos-killing NoiseAssassin technology, improved "HD" audio, and a processor for running "apps" like the new spoken name Caller ID, the Era also sports an accelerometer, letting you shake it (or your head) to enter pairing mode, and — we're not making this up — "tap" it to answer calls, meaning you can now smack yourself in the side of the head before appearing to talk to yourself in a public place. Gotta love progress.
If you're a Verizon customer and have not-so-patiently waited for the iPhone, or you're an AT&T customer not-so-happy with your cell service, today's news will make you smile. It looks the same, and works pretty much the same, but the Verizon iPhone 4 ($200-$300) does have a few differences compared with the current iPhone. It's got a redesigned antenna to stop untimely dropped calls, can act as a mobile Hotspot for other Wi-Fi devices, but can't do the simultaneous voice/data stuff that you can do on AT&T (look up directions while somebody is on hold, for example). Other than that, it has all the magical features of the current one — iOS4, Retina display, FaceTime, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, HD video recording, etc. Get yours on February 10.