Usually there’s a lull in the days after a big event, but this first week after CES 2015 proved very exciting. In this edition of Counterclockwise we’ll be looking back at CES throughout the years. We also look back at how QWERTY went from the signature of high-end phones to an endangered species.
The end of CES
CES used to end around this time of year and each time it was met with excitement. When it ended, we summarized what happened in a lengthy news article filled with links to all the new phones.
Back in the day (2009) CES brought us Samsung’s first projector phone and LG’s first watch phone. Samsung mostly gave up on embedding pico-projectors in their devices, while after a pause LG went back to making watches – no calling on these, but they are full of Android-y apps.
The Samsung projector phone
LG GD910 watch phone
In 2012 there were things lie the Nokia Lumia 900, the Super AMOLED-packing Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 (recently reincarnated in the Tab S series), the Motorola RAZR MAXX, the Galaxy Nexus LTE, the Galaxy Note LTE for AT&T and more.
Then 2013 rolled around and it had less from the big players, but Sony did unveil the Xperia Z series (yes, the company will hit the 5th generation Z series in two years). Windows Phone 8 handsets came out in force and Vizio unveiled the first Tegra 4 tablet.
This year though, there wasn’t quite as much new hardware. No Xperia Z4, though we did see the first Snapdragon 810 device – the second generation bendy flagship, the LG G Flex 2. Asus unveiled the Zenfone 2, which was well received (to say the least) and the Zenfone Zoom, which packs optical zoom. Oh, and Microsoft unveiled a Nokia-branded feature phone.
That was last week, this week on the other hand the stars aligned for an even bigger number of launches.
If you can’t beat them, offer price cuts
Microsoft has seemingly given up on the flagship market and most new Lumia that come out are low-enders that offer amazing bang for the buck. Some drop to ridiculously low prices – the Lumia 521 was just $ 30 early last year. That was a great deal for a 800 x 480px screen, dual-core Krait processor and a 720p-capable camera.
In 2013 there was the odd Lumia 505 that launched in Mexico, a compact device with a 3.7″ AMOLED screen. It never got a wide release or a direct sequel, but this year Microsoft brought out the Lumia 435 and Lumia 532 to fill the need for a well-specced, compact phone at a low price. These start at $ 80-$ 90 officially, but we can see them going the way of the Lumia 521 before long.
20th century typewriters
QWERTY may have its origins in typewriters, but in the last few decades these six letters were more associated with BlackBerry than the mechanical precursors to the word processor. Some phones, like the BlackBerry Curve 8900, have reached near legendary status, but in 2010 the company (then RIM) was looking for way to upgrade it.
The BlackBerry Curve 8910 leaked with an optical trackpad, replacing the well-known ball. The company tried other things too, like putting the QWERTY keyboard on a slider – as seen on the BlackBerry Torch and its successor. This way the phone can masquerade as a hip touch-only phone, but will transform into a business machine with a flick of your thumb.
BlackBerry Curve 8910 • BlackBerry Torch 2
A couple of years ago the company abandoned hardware typing with its oft-delayed BlackBerry 10 platform, but recently it has been reconsidering – with the BlackBerry Passport and the new BlackBerry Classic (which recently launched in India) physical keys are available once again for those who want them.
The question is, is this like Coke Classic, the ill-fated attempt at a redesign? Well, the BlackBerry has nowhere to go but up.
The same goes for Palm, another company known for its business phones (and PDAs before that). Last week it was brought back from the dead by TCL, the same company that’s keeping the Alcatel name alive.
The birth-death-rebirth of Tizen
Another “nowhere to go but up” story unfolded recently, Tizen OS is finally powering a phone (watch phones notwithstanding). In January 2012 the company officially announced that it’s killing off its Linux-based Bada platform in favor of the Linux-based Tizen platform.
Linux-on-mobile has reincarnated so many times it’s getting hard to track, but the Samsung Z1 launched this week, a low-price (sub-$ 100) smartphone for the masses. While the Android-powered Galaxy series has nothing to fear, it seems like Samsung is trying Microsoft’s approach of winning the hearts and minds of people with good hardware on a shoestring budget.