The 12 Best New Phones You Can't Buy

Barcelona's Mobile World Congress came and went, and didn't amount to much in the way of US mobile phones. The rest of the world got some seriously nice gear, though. Here's the best of the best of the out of reach.

HTC Legend

Why You Want It: It's like an HTC Hero, except with Android 2.1, an OLED screen, and a brushed-to-perfection aluminium body, which may be the most stylistically interesting design choice HTC has ever made.

Why You Can't Have It: European availability starts in April, and this phone could see a later US release date like the Hero did, though HTC hasn't given any indication that this is true. Here's the thing: Remember how Sprint uglified the original Hero? I wouldn't put it past them, and more generally HTC, to tone this thing down (read: ruin it) in the unlikely event of a US release.

Alcatel OT980

Why You Want It: It'll be a cheap Android handset in a totally under-recognised form factor. Some may see it as a knockoff of the Pre, but I just see it as a nice little messaging phone, without the restrictions of a dumbphone OS.

Why You Can't Have It: Have you ever seen an Alcatel handset in real life? Didn't think so. This one's coming in May. To Yur-ope.

Motorola XT800

Why You Want It: It's got the brains of a Droid, without the keyboard. Plus, it's got support for dual SIM cards - a rarity in Android phones - and HDMI output.

Why You Can't Have It: It was introduced alongside an explicitly Chinese-only phone, and Motorola has made no indications that a North American release is coming. And even if it did, a dual-SIM international phone without a keyboard might be a tough sell to carriers, which usually market travel phones to businesspeople.

General Mobile Touch Stone

Why You Want It: Remember the HTC Touch HD2? The one with the orgasmically beautiful hardware, and categorically disappointing software? This is pretty much that, with Android.

Why You Can't Have It: General Mobile made their name selling knockoff phones. While the Touch Stone isn't a knockoff phone at all, it comes from a company that doesn't - and will probably never - have a foothold in the US.

Acer beTouch E110

Why You Want It: When Android phones are available for free on contract, this is what they're going to look like. The specs on this thing are underwhelming, so it might not be accurate to say that you'd want it for you, but you might want it for your tweenage kid.

Why You Can't Have It: Acer currently has no plans to bring the beTouch stateside, and Acer's other phones don't exactly have a history of showing up in the US unannounced.

The Puma Phone

Why You Want It: The first phone designed entirely around a sporting lifestyle. Oh, and it's got a solar panel!

Why You Can't Have It: Initial launch plans have it released in Europe in about two months, with further availability TBD. US prospects aren't great though, since Puma doesn't have nearly the brand power it does in the UK, for example. (Fun fact: British people pronounce Puma like "Pyoo-mah.")

LG GW990

Why You Want It: It's the first phone with Intel's Moorestown chip, and the first with the hybrid Maemo/Moblin OS, called Meego. And seriously, come on with these specs: A 4.8-inch screen at 480 x 1024 pixels? A 1850mAh battery? Intel's Atom-based system-on-a-chip? This phone is pornographic.

Why You Can't Have It: Let's face it: It's a tech demo. The Korean market tends to be more receptive to over-the-top phone like this, which is why they're the only ones getting it for now, and even there, not for another half a year. Can you imagine a Verizon or an AT&T picking up something this absurd? And can you imagine how much it would cost unsubsidised?

Samsung Wave

Why You Want It: Its Bada OS may be underwhelming, but it's a nicely specced phone with a couple game-changing features: the first "Super OLED" screen, which doesn't look like arse in direct sunlight. It's also the first handset with USB 3.0, which is, you know, fast.

Why You Can't Have It: UK availability starts in April, and Samsung hasn't even bothered to include a "further markets will be announced by x" blanket statement. It could happen, but don't bet on it.

Toshiba K01

Why You Want It: It's essentially the TG01 with a slide-out keyboard, which makes it the thinnest slide-out-QWERTY smartphone of its kind. (Its kind being massive, massive phones.) It's a proud, final signoff for the entire category of ultraspecced Windows Mobile 6.x phones.

Why You Can't Have It: The TG01 never made it stateside, and there's no reason to believe that its keyboarded follow-up will either. And besides, this phone is a lustable piece of hardware, but with WinPho 7 on the horizon, it's hard to recommend buying a 6.5.3-based phone.

Sony X10 Mini

Why You Want It: The Xperia X10 done had itself a baby! An adorable little baby! You get the full Sony Ericsson Timeline interface overlaid atop Android, in a much more compact package. And it'll probably be cheap.

Why You Can't Have It: The X10 is taking forever to make it to market here, and other miniaturised phones, like the N97 Mini, don't seem to fly with American carriers. Accordingly, Sony Ericsson hasn't said a thing about a US release.

Samsung i8520

Why You Want It: Ignore everything else: This phone has a built-in projector. Ha!

Why You Can't Have It: Samsung's science fair project is going to be very, very expensive, and besides, it won't even be available in Asia and parts of Europe until Q3 of this year, with a wider release possibly in the cards. Possibly.

Texas Instruments Blaze

Why You Want It: Look! Look at this thing! Two 3.7-inch screens, the OMAP 4 chipset based on the ARM Cortex A9, three cameras, a keyboard - this thing is outright insane.

Why You Can't Have It: It's developer hardware, so it's not even meant for wide sale. I suppose you could buy one if you wanted, but unless you engineer mobile phones or write mobile OSes for a living, you really shouldn't.

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