And we thought Mobile World Congress was supposed to be the big phone show. CES 2014 saw a surprising number of handsets make their debut, ranging from the tiny 4-inch ASUS PadFone Mini (which fits inside a tablet) to themassive 6.8-inch Hisense X1. We saw a pint-sized powerhouse with a 20-megapixel camera and another behemoth with a battery that lasts two days on a charge. It's safe to say that CES 2014 was a great show for smartphone lovers. Here's our top picks.
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Sony's Xperia Z1 Compact is the little smartphone that can. While most handset makers saddle the mini versions of their flagship devices with mid-range specs, Sony equipped its 4.3-inch Z1 Compact with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM and a massive 20.7-megapixel rear camera. And while its display tops out at 1280 x 720, the Compact's Triluminous screen technology more than makes up for it with vivid colors. To top it off, the Xperia Z1 Compact's water-resistant chassis can survive being submerged for up to 30 minutes. There's nothing small about that.
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ASUS PadFone X
ASUS is finally getting some love from U.S. carriers with its new PadFone X. The combination smartphone and tablet is the first major release from ASUS to land on one of the Big Four carriers, namely AT&T. The device marries a 5-inch smartphone with a 9-inch slate, both of which feature full-HD displays. The PadFone X's Qualcomm brains sit in its smartphone portion, and when connected to the tablet, automatically hands over control to the big screen. Little else is known about the PadFone X in terms of specs and release date, but you can color us very intrigued.
Lenovo Vibe Z
Lenovo's Vibe Z is the most advanced smartphone the company has ever produced. With a 5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution display that packs a whopping 400 pixels per inch, this is one of the most beautiful screens at CES 2014. Inside, the Vibe Z gets a quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU and 2GB of RAM. A 13-megapixel rear camera with an f1.8 aperture captures photos instantly, while a 5-megapixel front shooter with an extra-wide lens is great for taking selfies with groups of friends.
Huawei Ascend Mate 2
Huawei's Ascend Mate 2 is the smartphone you'll use without ever having to worry where you left your charger. That's because this 6.1-inch monster packs an enormous 4,050 mAh battery. According to Huawei, that's enough power to keep this device running for up to two days of heavy use. With so much extra juice, Huawei also equipped the Ascend Mate 2 with a reverse charging feature that lets you use the handset's battery pack to charge other devices. And with a 13-megapixel Sony BSI rear camera and 5-megapixel front shooter, this Huawei is perfect for photogs and selfie lovers, alike.
Alcatel One Touch Idol X+
Alcatel's One Touch Idol X+ is one of the most powerful smartphones to debut at CES 2014. While most flagship handsets are rocking quad-core processors, the One Touch Idol X+ packs a powerful octa-core MediaTek CPU that can run anywhere from one to eight cores at once. While its 5-inch IPS display doesn't have the highest resolution (1280 x 720), images still looked wonderful. Up front, the Idol X+ gets a 2-megapixel camera, while a 13-megapixel shooter is on the back. Though it doesn't include an LTE radio, Alcatel tells us the Idol X+ will sell for just $329 off-contract when it makes its way to the U.S. later this spring.
Hisense took the U.S. tablet market by storm last year with the release of its Sero 7 Pro, and the company is looking to do the same for the smartphone market with its massive 6.8-inch X1. The Hisense X1's 1920 x 1080 screen offers excellent visuals, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM combine for beastly performance. Despite being a mere 0.2 inches from the 7-inch tablet market, the X1 felt surprisingly light in our hands. Camera duty is handled by a 13-megapixel rear shooter that captures images quickly. Pricing and carrier partners have yet to be announced for the LTE-capable device, but Hisense did let slip that the handset would make its debut in the U.S. in Q3 or Q4.
ZTE Grand S II
ZTE's Grand S II is looking to take on Motorola's Moto X for the title of smartphone you'd most like to have a conversation with. That's because the S II, like the Moto X, features voice controls that let you do everything from capture photos to wake the phone from sleep, all without ever having to lift a finger. The device also features a 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 display, screaming fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM and a 13-megapixel camera. Though ZTE won't say if the Grand S II will come to the U.S., we're definitely keeping our fingers crossed.
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