week in review CTIA 2012, held this week in New Orleans, was by all accounts mellower than in prior years. And it wasn't so much about the introduction of a bevy of new products as it was about getting a sense of what's to come down the pike for carriers, phone makers, and the wireless industry as a whole. Clearly the future will be chock-full of compelling devices featuring Android's Ice Cream Sandwich and LTE data networks.
Perhaps the most impressive unveiling, Samsung's Galaxy S III flagship phone, actually happened days before CTIA 2012 kicked off. But CTIA was CNET's first chance to handle the device, and at the end of the day, the Android Ice Cream Sandwich mega handset was considered the best phone at the show. Sporting an extra-large 4.8-inch HD AMOLED screen, an 8-megapixel camera with the works, and a quad-core processor on this global version, the phone is hard to beat -- especially when you also take into account software add-ons like enhanced voice controls and phone-to-phone sharing for files of up to 1GB in size.
Other phone announcements, such as a low-end Samsung Windows Phone for AT&T, the renamed Evo 3D -- now known as Evo V 4G -- and the HTC Droid Incredible 4G, were interesting but hardly groundbreaking. CNET's Roger Chen, in fact, who called the conference a "virtual snooze fest," questioned the relevancy of the show that comes on the heels of the more amped-up Consumer Electronics Show and Mobile World Congress events. He wondered whether CTIA should combine this show with its enterprise and app-focused CTIA conference in the fall.
Still, CTIA 2012 did reveal some interesting new services, such as AT&T's new technology designed to let you control almost everything in your home right from your smartphone or tablet. From locking your doors, to lowering your window blinds, to adjusting your thermostat and lights, you'll need only a compatible device and an Internet connection. And MasterCard announced it would enter the mobile payments game with its own digital wallet service called PayPass Wallet Services. Users will be able to store all of their cards and MasterCard will distribute developer tools to allow other digital wallets to work with its network.
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