The year 2011 was all about “dual core”, becoming the standard for high-end smartphones. And we just witnessed what superphones like the Samsung Galaxy S II, DROID RAZR MAXX, and others are capable of. These phones are five times more powerful than anything released last year, and for this upcoming generation of devices, even more.
So, what next? This year, chip-makers have come forth with quad core processors supporting mobile multitasking comparable to the performance of a desktop computer of a few years ago, powered by Tegra 3 SoC’s and TI’s OMAP equivalent. More cores equal more power and a faster smartphone; certainly they are likely to offer increased power savings and a performance increase in the range of 300-500%. And, they actually have power saving features embedded in them too.
NVIDIA Tegra Product Roadmap
And the players include HTC, Motorola, Sony, Samsung, LG, and Meizu. We will look at the devices they are bringing to market one by one.
HTC might be launching the first quad-core smartphone in the market among the smartphone manufacturers. Dubbed HTC Edge, it will run on NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 having four cores (and a fifth, companion core for less demanding tasks) clocked at 1.5GHz allowing the processor to simultaneously run multiple sets of program instructions. Along with this, the battery life will increase two fold. With 1GB of RAM will be at your disposal, along with 32GB of built-in memory, this mammoth device will offer a 4.7″ screen with 720p HD resolution; big-screen junkies should be happy.
HTC Edge Specs
8MP camera unit with 28mm, f/2.2 lens
4.7″ screen with 720p HD
NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 quad core clocked @ 1.5 Ghz
32GB of built-in memory
1GB of RAM
Android 4.0 ICS
Other specs include an 8MP camera unit with 28mm, f/2.2 lens, capable of capturing 1080p videos will be present as well. Bluetooth 4.0 is expected on board, along with the rest of the usual connectivity. The HTC Edge will, reportedly, be only capable of 21Mbps HSDPA network speeds. In the software department, we can be all but certain to see Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box. The Edge will also most likely come with Beats by Dr. Dre as well, for bass-fanatics, too. A number of new HTC content services are also expected like HTC Listen Music, HTC Read, HTC Watch and HTC Play. The HTC Edge is expected to hit the market between March and April this year.
Now, for Moto, if we are to believe the rumors, is gearing up with its Tegra 3 based devices lined up for the launch in the Q2 2012 and might be unveiled during MWC 2012. After the Motorola DROID RAZR and the Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX, the phones have been codenamed as Motorola Bullet and Motorola Jet. Supposedly the Bullet will be a straight-up slate, while the Jet will be a QWERTY slider. Remember though, very little in the way of rumors has surfaced over the past few months, so this is likely to be the least credible among the bunch. Still worth considering.
The Bullet is a candy bar style 4.3″ qHD (960×540) phone, packing a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, and most likely 1.5GB of DDR2 RAM. It will also feature 16GB of on-board storage, an NFC chip, and a redesigned image sensor to capture amazing photos and HD video on its 12MP camera. It’s also alleged to be launching before its keyboard brethren, the Motorola Jet.
The Motorola Jet 4 will be adored by the Android QWERTY lovers and sports a smaller 4″ display, brandishing a qHD (960×540) display with an amazing QWERTY keyboard from its cousin Motorola Droid 3. Thankfully, it will be sporting the same Herculean hardware as its keyboard-less cousin, the Bullet, and will feature a 4″ qHD 24-bit screen, Tegra 3, up to 1.5GB of DDR2 RAM, 16GB on-board storage, same newly designed 12MP camera as the Bullet, NFC chip, and a fully redesigned 5 row (perhaps) style sliding keyboard.
Some also reported that Motorola is getting quite serious about putting world class image sensors in their upcoming phones, giving consumers the power to capture fast, awesome HD photos and video in low light. So, with Motorola making this a major focus, it’s looking like the chance of us being able to put our dedicated digital camera away sooner than we thought. Plus, with the promised processing power of the quad core Tegra SoC, it’s theoretically possible that these devices will be able to capture 60fps + at 1080p. Judging by the image above it looks like both devices will be running on Verizon’s 4G LTE – since they aren’t releasing any more 3G only devices – and both phones have the “Verizon” logo, and on the back there is the “4G LTE” logo. Here’s to hoping they find a way to get great battery life on 4G LTE.
The Arc was one of Sony Ericsson’s (soon to be just Sony) best smartphones last year. While it lacked dual core goodness, it was slim, as it was supposed to be, since most of their competition had phones like that already, and it was stylish. Design is still one of Sony’s strong suit, but it doesn’t go well with thick phones, which is how most of their phones still are. But they will be pushing other slim phones in 2012.
Sony Xperia S
Sony Xperia S Specs
dual core 1.5 Ghz Snapdragon chip
4.3″ 1280×720 HD display
1 GB of RAM
32 GB of storage
1750 mAh battery
12 MP rear camera
Sony will be debuting the Xperia Ion this year, which is packing a dual core 1.5 Ghz Snapdragon chip, a 4.3″ 1280×720 HD display, 1 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and a 1750 mAh battery. Also, it packs a 12 MP camera with full HD recording and HDMI port.
The Ion is not only proof of that, but it’s also a bit of proof that Sony Ericsson finally understands that they need to be on the edge with hardware specs, too. From what we’ve seen, it appears that Sony is taking the smartphone market very seriously, and is positioning themselves in 2012 to become a lot more competitive.
The giant Korean company, maker of the Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S2, is poised to be a leader in this particular superphone death-match. Samsung’s phones and tablets have used ARM, Snapdragon and Tegra chipsets, but the manufacturer’s semiconductor division is working hard on the next generation of its own Exynos line of systems-on-a-chip. They are testing possible processors like the Exynos 5250, which isn’t quad-core, but rather a dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 processor. Samsung seems to be confident that the Exynos 5250 can produce benchmarks and performance competitive with a quad-core processor. Or it may even go with the 32 nm quad core Exynos 4412 (based on Cortex A9) having the same clock speed of 1.5 GHz.
One of the latest renderings of the Galaxy S3
Samsung Galaxy S3 Specs
1GB/2GB of RAM
4.6 inch 1280×720 AMOLED display
under 9mm thin
12MP rear camera, with W750 BSI CMOS sensor
1.5Ghz quad core (potentially dual core, but unlikely)
Multiple variants to be released to support different carriers
Samsung has some tough choices to make. According to our very own Lucian Armasu:
“The “safest” rumor about the Galaxy S3 has been that it has a quad core 1.5 Ghz processor, most likely based on Cortex A9. While that will certainly be competitive this spring, I don’t think the competitive edge will be that big for the Galaxy S3 to maintain the lead in performance for too long.”
If we take into consideration the specs of the device, the talks which are in the air reveal that the Galaxy S III’s design will be different from the current design of the Galaxy S series, and will thinner in size than its ancestor, the Galaxy S2. Samsung might be including 3D (glassless) functionality into the Galaxy S3 line of Android phones. Predictions indicate that it will feature a 4.6” Super AMOLED Plus HD screen, 2GB of RAM, LTE connectivity, running on Android’s latest ICS firmware with Touchwiz – Samsung’s own overlay. Also like its competitors, it might incorporate a 12 MP primary camera (with W750 BSI CMOS sensor) and NFC support.
If Samsung does unveil the Galaxy S3 at Mobile World Congress in 2012, we will see Galaxy S III earlier this May or even in April. If not, then look for it closer to the summer.
Meizu MX with Quad Core Launching in May 2012
Meizu MX Specs
Tegra 3 Quad Core @ 1.5 Ghz
1/2GB of RAM
16 GB ROM
4 inch LED backlit display
Recently, Meizu CEO J Wong has confirmed that after first gen Meizu MX launched recently, its quad core version will be hitting the market soon installed with the Android Ice Cream Sandwich while it arrives in May 2012. He also confirmed in the official company forum that the second version of the Meizu MX will come with the Exynos processor. There is not so detailed information about the features it will showcase, but it will perhaps have a processor clocked at 1.5 GHz, 1/2 GB RAM, 16 Gb inbuilt memory, 8 MP or higher camera, full HD recording, HDMI port, 4+” LED display and a 1600 mAh battery.
Meizu have gained reputation in China, and their quality and powerful devices are starting to be acknowledged by the West, too, which means that it might not be long until they start selling them to Europe and US, as well struggling against the iPhone.
LG's Quad Core Demon - the X3
LG X3 Specs:
NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad-core CPU
A whopping 4.7 inches HD Screen (1280×720)
8MP Rear Camera and 1.3MP Front
16GB on a microSD card.
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box
21Mbps HSPA or LTE depending on region and carrier
LG has received a lot of flack for slow updates, and for software that doesn’t perform at its best, all the time. That being said, they still are considered one of the top five, in terms of market share, at least. So it should come as no surprise that LG does not want to stand idly by. Rumors have it that they will be debuting a very powerful quad core device at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. In terms of specs, it seems to match a lot of these other top tier phones that we are looking at, and includes the extremely powerful chipset, Tegra 3, and will feature a high resolution, 4.7 inch display with a resolution of 1280 × 720. We’ve also had its dimensions confirmed by reliable sources that have told us it will be very thin – most likely under 9 mm.
Said to come with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box, it will feature a 1.3 megapixel, and an 8 megapixel rear. Other specs include the usual suspects, including Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G/4G/LTE connectivity, depending on the region, and a fairly substantial 2000mAh battery.
These companies are not alone in the game. Panasonic, ZTE, Huawei and even Fujitsu are also planning to roll out their quad core phones soon, too. Anyway, no matter the number of devices, what we are in the midst of is truly a mobile computing revolution. At the end of the day, we, the consumers, will all benefit. After all, we are going to experience a whole new world of smarter, faster and buttery smooth mobile devices. Any thoughts? Which manufacturer do you think will bring to market the first quad core device?