Nokia and Motorola Come Up Stale

The handset titans have little to offer at the CTIA show.
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Wireless-phone makers rolled out their new models at the annual CTIA trade show this week in Las Vegas.

And while there were few fresh phones from No. 1

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

and No. 2

Motorola

(MOT)

, Korean challengers

Samsung

and

LG

made strong impressions with new designs.

Overall, the top features continue to be cameras, Bluetooth, messaging and music. And there seems to be no end in sight for the thinning trend.

Nokia introduced four phones destined for the U.S. market. Three of the phones are on the CDMA standard, but none has high-speed data capability available on the new 3G EV-DO networks. Two of these phones are clamshell-style and all have color screens.

Nokia has had limited success in code division multiple access, or CDMA, the fastest-growing cellular phone standard in the U.S. Much of the problem has been blamed on Nokia's refusal to buy CDMA chips from

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

. That resistance seems to be continuing, as Nokia's newest CDMA phones include no next-generation Qualcomm engineered EV-DO technology.

CDMA operators like

Verizon Wireless

-- co-owned by

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

and

Vodafone

(VOD) - Get Report

-- and

Sprint

(S) - Get Report

have spent billions of dollars on EV-DO network upgrades over the past year.

The notable Nokia entry was the 6126, a folding GSM phone. But again, it brings no high-speed UMTS capability. The 6126 does give a nod to the slim-phone trend that has swept through the handset market. Nokia has been

characteristically stubborn about following design trends. And while not a true thin phone, Nokia did manage to taper the 6126 toward the bottom for a slightly sleeker look.

Nokia vowed at its analyst day in December that it would retake market share in the U.S. But glitches seem to be spoiling that prediction.

On Monday, the company said software problems would delay the introduction of six phones, including its N91 music phone. Earlier this year Nokia blamed software for the absence of its new E-series line of smartphones for business customers.

Nokia isn't the only cellphone maker stumbling. Surprisingly, onetime industry-design leader Motorola added nothing to its lineup that could rival the two-year run of the ultrathin Razr.

A particularly noticeable absence from Motorola's product showcase, as

TheStreet.com

reported last week, was the Q phone, the heavily anticipated rival to

Research in Motion's

(RIMM)

Blackberry.

Motorola did introduce a lower-priced CDMA phone. And earlier in the week the company announced three new colors for its massively popular Razr phone, milking the line as best it can. The Schaumburg, Ill., wireless titan also added the V3m, a special music-playing version of the Razr. The V3m doesn't have the 100-song limit of its disappointing iTunes Rokr phones.

Meanwhile, Samsung stuck to its full-on imitation strategy, rolling out what it bills as the thinnest phone in the U.S. Though not yet fitted with a catchy name, the t509 candybar-styled GSM phone measures less than 10 mm thick. The t509 is a nonfolding version of Samsung's Blade phone. Blade was Samsung's answer to Motorola's Razr, just as the t509 is designed to go head-to-head with Motorola's Slvr.

And finally, No. 4 LG introduced a handful of CDMA clamshell, color-screen camera phones, not entirely different from models currently in circulation, at least with one exception: the LG LX-550. This thin, folding phone has an unmistakably

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

iPod-looking navigation wheel on the outside for music controls.