It’s the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and pretty much every major manufacturer and network is showing off new 4G LTE hardware.
Long-Term Evolution means true 4G wireless connection speeds, as opposed to the “3.5G” speeds of HSPA+. Many networks that promised “4G” speeds were actually using HSPA+ and are now promoting 4G LTE devices specifically to distinguish them from the earlier “4G” ones. 4G LTE speeds are not yet available in all areas, and each network varies in how far their LTE coverage extends.
Here’s a look at some of the 4G LTE smartphones and tablets on display at CES:
Besides the predictable new Droid models, including the Droid 4 and Droid MAXX, Verizon also launched two “global ready” 4G LTE mobile Wi-Fi hotspots called Jetpacks. Besides LTE, they also support EDGE and HSPA for use while traveling, and they allow up to 10 devices to be connected at once.
Verizon also demoed a 4G-equipped Chevrolet Volt, complete with Android tablets for the passengers, and a new Samsung Galaxy Tab with 4G LTE capability.
The “Now Network” is just now rolling out its 4G LTE network, starting in four cities: Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. It’s also releasing its own 4G mobile hotspot, as well as two 4G LTE smartphones: The LG Viper, with a case made entirely from recycled plastic, and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Google’s flagship Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich phone.
Unlike on other networks, the Galaxy Nexus on Sprint will be able to use Google Wallet to make payments at stores using its built-in NFC chip. The Galaxy Nexus on Verizon had this feature disabled because Verizon has partnered with Isis for mobile payments. Isis is not yet available for Verizon Galaxy Nexus owners to use.
Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.
AT&T is unveiling five 4G LTE Android phones and a 4G LTE tablet, including the Galaxy Note – a 5-plus-inch Android smartphone that borders on being a tablet. Meanwhile, Nokia is launching the 4G LTE “compatible” Lumia 900, its Windows Phone sequel to the well-received Lumia 800. Windows Phones have fewer games and apps than Android ones, but have features which tie into XBox Live and Microsoft Office.