Jan. 9, 2012 at 3:09 PM ET
AT&T's top brass took the stage at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas to show off 4G LTE phones from Sony, Samsung, HTC and Pantech, including the Xperia ion, Sony's first U.S. phone without Ericsson co-branding, the huge-screen Samsung Galaxy Note and Pantech's waterproof Pantech Element tablet. Microsoft's Steve Ballmer appeared with the chiefs of HTC and Nokia to introduce the HTC Titan II, the first 4G LTE Windows Phone, and a teaser for Nokia's first 4G LTE phone.
Sony broke free of the Ericsson co-branding a bit ago, and the Xperia Ion will likely be the first phone to hit the U.S. It's gorgeous, and apparently has an awesome camera, but AT&T didn't share much detail on it, except that it would be available in the second quarter of the year.
Samsung, not surprisingly, has a serious cluster of hardware, including the "under $50" Exhilarate, made from recycled materials with a 4-in. display; the Galaxy S II Skyrocket HD — "razor thin, and you can actually remove the battery" — and the kind-of-tablet-kind-of-phone Galaxy Note, with 5.3-inch screen and special S Pen stylus, so you can draw notes on top of the screen in "canvas view," to save for later.
Pantech will have the waterproof Element tablet and an "under $50" super-AMOLED-screened Burst phone running on 4G LTE. People will be able to buy both the tablet and the phone, with contract, for $250. (They didn't specify if that also means a shared data plan, but we'll look into it.)
The HTC Titan II is the first LTE Windows Phone for AT&T, and as far as wel can tell, the first LTE for any carrier in the U.S. Available in "the coming months," it's a totally amped-up phone, with a 16-megapixel camera. I'm gonna go on a limb and say that's more pixels than necessary, and from what I've seen of HTC's imaging, I'm not confident it's an automatically awesome camera, but that spec did make the crowd gasp, me included.
Though Nokia's Stephen Elop was on stage, he didn't unveil his 4G LTE phone for AT&T, possibly because then nobody would show up to his press event. Stay tuned for that.
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