The phones have left the building

Smartphones say sayonara to CES and move on to other gadget shows.

Sorry folks, the phones have left CES--and it doesn't look like they'll be coming back. What was once a waterfall of shiny new handsets has turned into a pitiful trickle as phone manufacturers and carriers opt for mobile-only conferences and private events to launch their hot new devices.

HTC and Motorola barely had a presence at the show, and LG's press conference consisted of the company talking up its already-released Optimus G.

Samsung, the world largest smartphone manufacturer, didn't have any new hardware and its big mobile announcement consisted of finally naming a carrier (Verizon) for its ATIV Windows Phone. A phone, I might add, that was announced at IFA in August of last year.

Sony, Huawei, Pantech, and ZTE did have new phones to show off, but these companies are relatively small fish when compared other mobile manufacturers such as Samsung and LG.

Pantech's new phone, the Discover, while impressive, isn't a flagship phone like the Galaxy S III or One X.

Huawei and ZTE both had impressive phones on display, but it's doubtful those devices will ever come to the United States. Huawei promised that its last big smartphone, the Ascend P1, would hit store shelves sometime in April, but that event was delayed until January of this year.

Sony officially announced its flagship Xperia Z smartphone at its press conference here on Monday night, but the device was a footnote in a presentation that was more focused on touting the benefits of 4K televisions. The Japanese tech giant was coy in revealing anything more than the handset's basic specs, and its extremely likely we'll hear more details about the device in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress come February.

Setting swap

Even though CES is generally thought of to be the granddaddy of all tech trade shows, there are plenty of other shows out there where you can get your fix of new smartphones. CTIA in the Spring is generally the place where many U.S. carriers pull out their big guns, showing off the phones that'll make you drool with desire and hope that you're due for an upgrade come Fall. Samsung has made it a habit of announcing its latest and greatest at the IFA trade show in Berlin, where it first confirmed the Galaxy Note II and ATIV Windows Phone.

Then there's Mobile World Congress: A trade show the size of CES that's all about new mobile gadgets and gizmos. While companies may still battle it out for attention, at least it's in a place where all the attendees (and everyone watching) have mobile on their minds.

So if you're a smartphone fan that was disappointed by the lack of announcements at this year's CES, take solace in the fact that the year is only just getting started and we have a whole lot of trade shows left.

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Tags: Huawei, Motorola, CES, htc, consumer electronics, Pantech, ZTE, Phones, smartphones, sony
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