The phones of CES: Sony, Alcatel, BlackBerry, Huawei and more

Asus announced its ZenFone Max Plus (M1) at the CES show. (Asus)

As expected, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week was the site of a number of new device announcements, including new smartphones from Sony, Alcatel, TCL, Asus and others. However, smartphone heavyweights like Samsung and LG used their respective events at CES to tout their other consumer electronics like TVs and robots.

Further, major tech companies ranging from Amazon to Samsung largely put their focus at CES on software rather than hardware.

“The use of artificial intelligence as central pillar for announcements at CES was something we predicted before the start of the show and this came to fruition in several of the major media events that took place yesterday,” the analysts at CCS Insight wrote on their blog. “Consumer electronics giants LG and Samsung both outlined strategies to add 'intelligence' to their entire portfolio of devices, spanning products as diverse as refrigerators, TVs, robotic vacuum cleaners, mobile phones and more. LG used the ThinQ brand to describe its artificial intelligence platform, and Samsung talked about the ‘Intelligence of Things’ and emphasized its SmartThings platform and its Bixby voice assistant.”

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For example, Amazon said it would deliver its Alexa digital assistant service to a number of devices including Asus laptops.

Nonetheless, as in past years, there were some noteworthy smartphone announcements at the show from some of the market’s smaller vendors:

  • TCL said it would introduce two new BlackBerry-branded handsets this year. The company said both phones would sport qwerty keyboards and the Android operating system, noted PhoneScoop.
  • Alcatel took the wraps off three new phones that will all go for less than $300. Cnet offered a look at the new Alcatel 5, 3 and 1 smartphones.
  • HTC didn’t announce a new smartphone, but the company did show off its new Vive Pro virtual reality headset. “The higher display resolution places the Vive Pro ahead of the Oculus Rift and Microsoft's Windows Mixed Reality headsets,” wrote the analysts at CCS.
  • Asus announced its new Android-powered ZenFone Max Plus (M1), which PhoneScoop noted offers a metal exterior and curved glass front.
  • Also, PhoneScoop reported that Sony’s new Xperia L2 will offer a fingerprint reader and will be sold in the United States.
  • Finally, Huawei launched its new Honor View 10 and Honor 7X internationally. “The third largest smartphone maker in the world unveiled two new models, banking on the rapid expansion of its online brand Honor. The new devices will start selling in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia, as well as countries that the company traditionally found it difficult to penetrate like the US and India,” wrote the analysts at research firm Strategy Analytics.

Indeed, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, Huawei was not able to consummate a rumored deal with AT&T to bring its smartphones to the U.S. carrier’s device portfolio, news that leaves Huawei absent of any major distribution channels in the United States.