Today I sit on the couch, blogging with one eye while I watch the opening round of the NCAA tournament with the other eye. Tomorrow? Ditto. But come Monday it's all about the phones: The PhoneDog gang is headed to the desert to cover CTIA Las Vegas, starting with Monday's pre-show press gatherings.
What's on tap for the mobile tech gathering this year? This week's edition of Top 5 Thursdays is all about CTIA rumors.
1. Big, Fast Android Phones: Sprint Supersonic and Verizon Incredible
All kinds of sources are all but promising the unveiling of the HTC-made Sprint Supersonic WiMax phone next week, and I'm not about to contradict those reports. Sprint's holding a press event Tuesday afternoon and you know they're going to continue to hype their WiMax network like they did with the CES launch of the Overdrive mobile hotspot. Odds are we'll see what's more or less an Android version of the HTC HD2 (4.3" display, Snapdragon processor), but with a dual-mode EV-DO/WiMax radio, launched next week.
Then there's the HTC Incredible, said to be coming to Verizon in the near-term. Incredible is rumored to be something like a Nexus One (3.7" display, Snapdragon processor), but with HTC's Sense Ui and an upgraded camera (8 megapixels). Incredible is rumored to hit Big Red in two weeks, but could show up in Vegas for an early coming out party. It'll be interesting to see what Incredible does to sales of the VZW-compatible Nexus One should both phones launch at the same time.
2. WiMax, LTE, and HSDPA+
Sprint's already launched WiMax and is likely to roll out a few new markets along with their first 4G handset (see #1 above) at CTIA. T-Mobile is holding their own presser Tuesday to talk about network upgrades and new products, which likely means some HSDPA+ goodness. Verizon's been talking up their LTE tests, saying they're ahead of schedule with their 4G deployment plans - even if they're still many months away from launch. And just today some rumors started kicking around regarding a possible T-Mobile/Clearwire partnership of some sort - which is odd considering that T-Mo is supposedly committed to LTE as their 4G tech, while Clearwire is in the WiMax game (with Sprint). Hmm.
At any rate, bigger, faster wireless data pipes will clearly be in the news next week; AT&T, you got anything to say?
3. What's AT&T Up To?
AT&T executives are involved in two keynote addresses at the show. AT&T's also hosting their traditional media luncheon. And there's even chatter about them throwing a party at the show (which they never do). What does it all mean? Is AT&T gearing up for some kind of a media blitz at CTIA, or is this all standard fare stuff with no real promise of interesting devices or service offerings? We already know about iPad and the carrier's forthcoming role as a premiere partner for Windows Phone 7 Series in the US, and they launched four new "Quick Messaging Devices" earlier this week. So what else could they have up their sleeves? Something good, we hope ...
4. BlackBerry Slider
BlackBerry's rumored new flagship phone, a vertical slider with a full touchscreen and hard QWERTY board, was recently leaked. Will it show up at CTIA next week? Will it launch on Sprint? Will it be called Storm3 or 9900/9930 or even ... "T" ? Most importantly, will this new BlackBerry finally usher in a new OS or at least that new WebKit based Web browser we're all yearning for?
5. Android Video Phone
This one's a wildcard, but I've been hearing something about an Android-based smartphone with actual, for real, full-frame video chat capabilities. Yes, I mean a phone on a US carrier. I can't say much, but the device may be launching at CTIA and available later this Summer. Or it might be pushed back for a late Spring/early Summer debut. We'll see.