updated 09:05 pm EST, Fri January 8, 2010
LG's new smartphones and 4G checked
LG focused most of its attention on its TV lineup, but it also staked new ground in the mobile arena with two new smartphones and further demos of its 4G network. The GW990 is so far the highlight; it's the first Intel-based phone and will run Moorestown, an upcoming version of Atom that uses a smaller chipset and low enough power for a phone. It should also run Intel's Moblin Linux, which hasn't been used in phones before but shows promise.
While the GW990 has been behind glass on the CES show floor, we can attest to it being one of the largest phones ever: it has a 4.8-inch capacitive touchscreen and eclipses even large phones like the HTC HD2 in terms of sheer surface area. It looks poketable, but only just. Combined with a 5-megapixel camera, GPS and Wi-Fi, it should be advanced -- though it will only ship towards the end of the year, so its advantages could be lost.
The GT540, nicknamed the Swift has more promise. LG pitches it as a budget touch-only Android phone, but in many ways it's a step above the Eve we reviewed last month. First is the OS: although staffers claimed it was running Android 1.6, the lock screen and general experience clearly pointed to 2.0. Its touchscreen is also much better; although it's still resistive and requires some pressure for certain tasks, it required a much less ham-fisted touch to navigate.
With a simple but pretty aesthetic, a 3-megapixel camera (with face detection) and likely a low price, it should be a success in Europe, where it should already be available. There's no word on whether a North American version is inbound, but LG is likely to bring the phone over to at least Canada.
LTE (Long Term Evolution) is of course more likely to have a wider impact as it will touch on nearly every major cell carrier. The test at CES is much like that shown at CTIA in April but does appear to have moved on: the demo external adapter was netting about 41Mbps, or nearly double the 23Mbps we saw just a few months ago. We don't expect these speeds in the real world -- Verizon has hinted at 12Mbps in practical conditions -- but the new demo shows that the networking should be enough to stream HD video and otherwise run about as well as a landline. Verizon will be the first in the US with LTE and rolls it out by mid-year; AT&T will have it by 2011
LTE networking using an LTE/CDMA hybrid modem