6 Hot Smartphones You Can’t Have

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LAS VEGAS (TheStreet) — Nearly everywhere else on the planet, you buy the phone you like and pick your carrier.

For the most part, all phones and carriers adhere to the International GSM phone standard. That's why there's a bigger selection of smartphones to choose from in other countries, most of which never make it here because our four major carriers can only peddle so many phones at one time.

The world's biggest phone makers will unveil new models at the International CTIA Wireless trade show, which opens in Las Vegas next week. While Apple won't be there, consumers can expect to see upgraded phones and features from Research In Motion, Google and AT&T.

Here's a look at six cool smartphones you won't find here, and the odds of them coming to stores near you.

6. ACER LIQUID

Acer, known for its computers, also makes cell phones such as the Liquid device. It's only for sale in Europe and Asia. The Liquid relies on the Android operating system and sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The phone features the Google Picasa photo organizer, social networking tools, Spinlets music/video streaming and something called "Fooz Creator," which lets you create a "virtual look-a-like" avatar and share it on Facebook, MySpace and other social networks.

Probability of it hitting U.S. stores: 50%. If the handset gets good press overseas, expect Acer to make a push for a carrier here before Christmas.

5. DELL MINI 3

Computer company Dell (Stock Quote: DELL) has been selling this Android smartphone in China and Brazil for months, and there are rumors that it will be available in the U.S., via AT&T, by June. The handset is said to be Dell's idea of an entry-level smartphone device. There's also word that a matching small tablet computer, called the Mini 5, might be coming.

Probability of it hitting U.S. stores: 75% We may not get the Mini 3 but we could see bigger/better Android smartphones from Dell in their home market later this year. They can't be left out of the future.

4. GARMIN-ASUS nuvifone M10

Garmin (Stock Quote: GRMN) was among the first to wed cell phones with GPS capabilities a decade ago. But when it came time to produce a modern-day smartphone/location device they stuttered. The nuvifone was announced, but it took more than a year to team up with Asus and produce a phone. The new nuvifone M10, recently introduced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona runs on the Windows Mobile 6.5.3 operating system and is said to improve upon the older M20. The problem is that GPS features are now standard on Android and Nokia designs.

Probability of it hitting U.S. stores: 25%. Garmin hasn't had much luck with their nuvifones so far and I don't expect much from this design either. There's no way for them to compete with the Droid, Nexus One or iPhone.

3. SONY PSP SMARTPHONE

This could be a very big deal for Sony Ericsson. Rumors are flying that Sony (Stock Quote: SNE) is busy working on a PlayStation cell phone, which would combine a gaming system and a smartphone. This isn't available in the U.S. or anywhere else yet. But if Sony is really thinking of producing a handset/gaming device, they shouldn't wait a year or two for Apple, Microsoft and Google to become more entrenched.

Probability of it hitting U.S. stores: 75%. If Sony doesn't blow its chance by taking too long to release this device, it could be a Christmas contender -- along with Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 7/Zune/Xbox phones.

2. NOKIA C5

The first of Nokia's (Stock Quote: NOK) new C-series handsets, the C5 has a sleek, candy bar design and the Symbian operating system. Users can put their favorite contacts on the home screen. The C5 will also include free access to Nokia's Ovi Maps GPS application. Sold as an unlocked phone in Europe, it would sell for $180 in the U.S. an amazing price for a smartphone.

Probability of it hitting U.S. stores: 65%. The U.S. is not Nokia's prime market and I'm not sure about their handset release plans, but a low selling price could make this phone attractive to carriers and customers alike.

1. TOSHIBA TG-01

This is an "old" design but it's still a hot phone. Available for the past year, the TG-01 has a beautiful, large (4.1-inch diagonal) screen and was the first to sport Qualcomm's super-fast 1 gigahertz Snapdragon processor. Its downside is that it runs on Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional operating system, which will soon be replaced by Windows Phone 7. Overall, it's a great smartphone and a big hit in Europe.

Probability of it hitting U.S. stores: 5%. Toshiba blew it. So many other phones have big color touch screens and Snapdragon processors that the TG-01 will never make it here. If Toshiba is one of the first with a Windows Phone 7 device and a second-generation Snapdragon chip we might see one here.

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