CES 2013: What to expect from phones and tablets

For the mobile world, CES is an appetiser rather than the main course, but don't worry: There will still be many tasty hors d'oeuvres at the Las Vegas-based show which officially kicks off tomorrow. So let’s take a look at what we expect to see at CES 2013 in terms of phones and tablets.

Phones

Phablets (phone/tablets, or phones with huge screens) are in right now, so we're going to see some monster phones at CES. The 6.1in Huawei Ascend Mate may be the biggest phone of the show, in more ways than one. It's already been shown off in China, and it has a quad-core processor and a very, very large screen.

As for phones you can actually fit in your hand, Huawei will be showing off two at CES: The Windows Phone 8-powered Ascend W1 and the Android-powered Ascend D2, which will have a 5in, 1080p screen (perhaps the same Sharp display as seen on HTC’s US smartphone, the Droid DNA).

That 5in, 1080p screen will also appear on the ZTE Grand S, another high-end Android phone that's going to get a big intro at a CES press conference.

Joining the Ascend Mate in the "already shown off, but not here" department we have the Samsung Galaxy Grand, which has a much lower density screen; it's 5in, but only 800 x 480 resolution, designed to be the pre-paid world's entry-level phablet.

I'm pretty convinced Sony, LG, and HTC are all holding their big announcements for Mobile World Congress (MWC) in February, so we won't see a lot in terms of new phones from those companies. Don't worry, they'll have great stuff, you'll just have to wait until February to see it. And how about the Samsung Galaxy S4? My guess is April.

What's also worth noting here is that Samsung is putting a considerable amount of money behind a CES keynote from its chip division. While the speaker, Stephen Woo, is the head of the group that builds processors, the highest profile discussion right now has Samsung announcing a flexible display for portable devices.

Tablets

The first round of Windows 8 slates just hit shelves, and some tablet makers (such as Asus) are holding back their next-gen Android devices for MWC in February. That said, we've heard a little bit about new tablets so far.

There has been some buzz about a sub-£100 Acer Android tablet which would provide similar performance to Amazon's Kindle Fire, but with a more generic build of Android. Some of those reports said the tablet was probably only for the Chinese market, but we could find out more at CES.

We've been hearing rumours about a Nokia tablet, but I don't think that's for this show. Ditto for the rumoured Samsung Galaxy Note 7; MWC was the big Galaxy Note show last year, and I think it will be this year too.

Bring on the big show

CES will start the ball rolling, and early 2013 will only get more exciting. RIM is releasing BlackBerry 10 on 30 January at its own event. Then comes the world's largest mobile phone trade show, Mobile World Congress in February, which as we’ve already noted is sure to have many major announcements.