MWC 12: Intel branded, Atom-powered smartphone to be sold by Orange

Subject: Mobile | February 26, 2012 - 08:06 PM |
Tagged: z2460, SoC, smartphone, orange, MWC 12, MWC, Intel, atom z2460

Reuters is reporting that European cell phone carrier Orange will be selling a reference design Medfield smartphone under the Intel brand name.  The Atom Z2460 SoC will find its first major distributor to be one of the world's largest service providers - this could potentially be a big opening for Intel in a market it desperately wants to compete for.

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I find it very interesting that not only has Intel developed a processor that has finally garnered attention for the mobile market but the team at Intel has built a reference design that was fine tuned enough to direct sell to consumers.  Will the company avoid becoming a typical, low margin SoC company by focusing on vertical implementations like this one?  It is an interesting thought and no other vendor has really done it, with possibly the exception of Samsung that owns the entire device process already.

Anandtech has the major specifications of the phone, codenamed "Santa Clara":

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These are basically identical to the reference design we saw at CES with only some minor changes to the form factor.  Ice Cream Sandwich isn't included out the gate but we are hoping the upgrade will get pushed soon since Intel showed ICS on the Atom SoC in January.

I haven't been able to find anything about availability or pricing yet but I'll be sure to report it when I find it.  The mobile market continues to intrigue...

Source: Reuters

Nokia World's Largest Windows Phone OS Smartphone Vendor in Q4 2011

Subject: Mobile | February 26, 2012 - 06:08 PM |
Tagged: WP7, windows phone, smartphone, nokia, mobile, microsoft, marketshare

Last year Nokia and Microsoft announced a partner ship that would combine Nokia's hardware with Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system. Back then, the move by Nokia to abandon Maemo, MeeGo, and Symbian was not a popular one; however, it does seem to have worked out well for the company (despite some burned bridges).

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According to a new report by Strategy Analytics, not only have Nokia Windows Phone 7 devices proved a popular choice, but the company has managed to propel itself to 33.1% marketshare; a number that makes Nokia the world's largest Windows Phone smartphone vendor in Q4 2011. Further, the company shipped just under 1 million units in Q4 2011 while the market as a whole saw 2.7 million units shipped. That is a significant jump from the previous quarter where Nokia did not ship any units and the market as a whole shipped only 2 million.

  Vendor Shipments (Millions) Q3'11 Vendor Shipments (Millions) Q4'11 Vendor Marketshare (%) Q3'11 Vendor Marketshare (%) Q4'11
Nokia 0.0 0.9 0% 33.1%
Others 2.0 1.8 100% 66.9%
Total 2 Million Units 2.7 Million Units 100% 100%

 

While Nokia does not yet have majority share of the Windows Phone smartphone market all to themselves, they do have the most marketshare of any single vendor. The increased presence of Nokia helped the Windows Phone market as a whole see a total quarter over quarter growth of 36%, according to the report. Further, Director of Strategy Analytics Tom Kang noted that Nokia managed to snag most of it's marketshare from HTC who is also losing ground in the Android market to rival Samsung.

Neil Mawston, the Executive Director of Strategy Analytics determined that the Nokia Lumia WP7 smartphone series, and increased marketing and retail presence in Asian and European countries significantly helped Nokia grow it's marketshare.

Needless to say, Nokia management and shareholders are likely pleased by this turn of events. It will be interesting to see where Nokia is marketshare wise at the end of this year as their new Lumia series smarphones proliferate across the world. The full report is available here to Strategy Analytics clients.

MWC 12: NVIDIA Tegra 3 To Power Quad Core HTC One Smartphone

Subject: Mobile | February 26, 2012 - 04:35 PM |
Tagged: tegra 3, smartphone, quad core, nvidia, MWC 12, htc, Android

Earlier rumors suggested that the LG Optimus 4X HD would be the first quad core Tegra 3 powered smartphone; however, HTC and NVIDIA made an announcement today that shows that LG is not the only company showing off a Tegra 3 smartphone at Mobile World Congress 2012!

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NVIDIA announced in a press release today that their Tegra 3 mobile SoC would be powering the new HTC One X smartphone which is to be shown off at MWC 2012. According to HTC, the phone features 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of on-board storage to power the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) mobile OS on a 4.7" display with 1280x720 resolution. It further includes an 8 MP (megapixel) rear camera capable of 1080p video with stereo sound, a VGA resolution front camera for video conferencing and claimed 720p video, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, support for LTE 4G networks, and a 1,800 mAh battery.

Kouji Kodera, Chief Product Officer at HTC stated that "the HTC One X with Tegra 3 provides an experience that consumers will absolutely love." The HTC One X is the first smartphone that HTC and NVIDIA have worked together on.

The mobile market is advancing rather quickly, and Mobile World Congress 2012 is only just getting started!  Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more MWC 2012 announcements!

For the full press release, hit the read more link:

Source: HTC

LG Announces 4X HD Quad Core Tegra 3 Smartphone With ICS

Subject: Mobile | February 24, 2012 - 07:35 AM |
Tagged: tegra 3, smartphone, quad core, LG, hd, 720p, 4x hd

Last year LG debuted a dual core smarphone at Mobile World Congress, and this year the company is upping the ante to a new Android smartphone powered by a 1.5GHz Tegra 3 quad core processor. Yes, this is still a smartphone, just with a processor that has usually been reserved for tablets like the Transformer Prime.

LG plans to reveal the new Android smartphone at this year's Mobile World Congress 2012 in Spain. The new phone is called the LG Optimus 4X HD and is a 8.9mm thick slab with "prism like" contours and edges. On the outside of the phone, it features a 4.7" True HD IPS display with a resolution of 1280 x 720, a LED flash, and two cameras. On the front is a 1.3 megapixel camera and the rear camera is 8 megapixel BSI (Backside Illumination Sensor) camera.

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The inside of the phone houses some fairly impressive hardware as well. The phone is powered by a Tegra 3 quad core processor running at 1.5 GHz, 1 GB of LP DDR2 RAM, and 16 GB of internal storage. Backing all this hardware is a 2,150 mAh battery. LG Mobile CEO Dr. Jong-seok Park stated that:

"Speed in itself isn't what makes LG Optimus 4X HD unique. It's the benefit we're bringing to customers with the HD multimedia experience in a mobile form factor."

The LG 4X HD will be running the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system and will be available in Europe during the second quarter of this year. The company will further be showing the device off at Mobile World Congress 2012 at the LG stand in Hall 8 from February 27 to March 1.

Do you think the world needs a quad core smartphone yet?

Source: engadget

Asus Padfone To (Finally) Debut At Mobile World Congress

Subject: Mobile | January 31, 2012 - 03:30 PM |
Tagged: tablet, smartphone, padfone, asus, Android

Remember the Asus Padfone? I won't blame you if you do not as it is practically ancient by tech history standards. Making its first appearance at Computex 2011 last May, the device made a splash that quickly died off as it never came to market.  To be honest, I just assumed it had completely died off.  Apparently; however, Asus did not forget about it and is planning to show it off at this years Mobile World Congress according to an article over at Android Central. Here's hoping they've adjusted for the success of tablets that have surfaced in the interim and that it is at a minimum running the Honeycomb or Gingerbread (Ice Cream Sandwich would be even better) OS and a fast processor.

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The Padfone, if the specifications from last year hold true is a 4.3" smartphone that can fit snugly inside of a 10" tablet form factor display that has it's own battery. The tablet portion can charge the smartphone and/or drive the larger display and the smartphone acts as the hardware of the device with it's SoC (system on a chip) and by allowing access to the 3G and WiFi data connections of the phone's radio.

There are still many question about the viability of such a device; however, with the rise in popularity of Android phones if Asus could make it such that any Android phone (within size constraints of course) could nestle itself inside the larger touchscreen display, they might have a popular product on their hands...

Cords? The Wireless Power Consortium Thinks They’re Old-Fashioned

Subject: Mobile | January 13, 2012 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: CES, wireless power, wireless, tablet, smartphone, mobile, charging

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Where was the most interesting technology at CES? Intel’s booth? Nope. Nvidia’s booth? Guess again. Perhaps you could find it at Qualcomm’s stand? Guess again.

If you ask me, the most interesting technology was tucked away in the back of the lower level of the South Hall, which is where you’ll find smaller companies and organizations that have decided to forgo a normal booth and instead just rent out space for a meeting room. That’s where you’ll find The Wireless Power Consortium and its Qi wireless power standard. 

Wireless power is exactly what it sounds like. You may have already heard of the charging mats made available by companies like Energizer. These allow users to charge a smartphone simply by placing them in the right location, forgetting about cords entirely.

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Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But there’s been a problem with them – until recently, they’ve all been proprietary. You had to use a special charging case to get the mats to work with your phone and that case wouldn’t work with competing products. You also were limited to charging in your home (or wherever you place the charging mat) which kind of defeats the point. 

To fix this, there must be a standard, and that’s what The Wireless Power Consortium has created. It’s called Qi, and it’s a coil-based charging solution that can be implemented in all sorts of mobile devices. Currently the standard can handle up to 5 watts and can work within 5mm, but both of these figures are to be expanded. New technology that can handle 10 watts is being tested, and the hope is for 120 watts to be achievable in the near future. That would allow for wireless charging of PCs and appliances. 

But enough about the specifications. Why am I excited about Qi? Let me explain.

Many current smartphones have mini-USB ports for one reason only – charging. Everything else, from syncing music to downloading files, can be achieved through a wireless connection. If that port could be removed entirely, it would allow for more design flexibility. Take the current Droid Razr, for example. It is extremely thin except for a bulge that houses the camera and the ports. If you could charge your phone wirelessly, designers would have one less port to design around.

Battery life is another part of this equation. As technology in our mobile devices continues to improve at an amazing rate, battery technology doesn’t seem able to keep up. I know – I own a HTC Thunderbolt. My phone has notoriously bad battery life with 4G LTE enabled. 

One solution is to make batteries bigger, but that increases weight, size and cost. Wireless power offers an alternative – make charging easier and more frequent. If you had wireless power in your car, at work and at home, your phone could easily maintain a high level of charge. And since it’s wireless, you don’t have to do anything except place your phone in the right place. 

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The Wireless Power Consortium booth – er, meeting room – had some interesting examples to show me.  One was a table with a built-in Qi compatible charger that can be deployed at restaurants, coffee shops and other places. In fact, some such tables can already be found in Japan and China. They number only in the hundreds, but it’s start.

For our Asian friends, who use more public transportation and tend to live in more densely packed cities, charging tables make a lot of sense. But here in North America we tend to get around with our own private vehicles. To help the standard get traction here, The Wireless Power Consortium is working with auto manufacturers to place wireless charging in automobiles. They hope that we’ll see it offered in a few vehicles starting the 2013 model year. 

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There are a lot of pieces that need to find their place in order for Qi to really take off, but they at least have the necessary partners including big names like Motorola and Texas Instruments, among many others. Keep an eye on this over the next year – it could end up being a true game changer. 

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Intel Aims For ARM With New x86 Smartphone Reference Design

Subject: Mobile | January 11, 2012 - 01:46 AM |
Tagged: x86, smartphone, Intel, CES, Android

intelsmartphone1.jpg

What do you do if you’re a big company with lots of money, but are having trouble convincing manufacturers to adopt your technology in their products because your competitors are already established in the market?

You build the product yourself.

That’s what Intel has done with its new smartphone reference platform. Revealed at the company’s keynote by CEO Paul Otellini, the reference platform is a fully functional smartphone running an x86 port of Android. It was demonstrated at the keynote and used to play games, watch video and output video to a monitor via HDMI.

Intel has been down this many times before, of course, but never had much success. That was before a fully functional reference platform was made available, however.  The device shown today could potentially be put on store shelves as-is (after a few more months of testing, perhaps). It is thin, it is light, it has a 4-inch display with a resolution of 1024x600 and it runs Android.  This is no thick and bulky test mule – it’s a functional example that can be used by vendors as a starting point so they don’t have to build a device from the ground up.

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Such a strategy can help get Intel’s foot in the door, and in fact already has. After showing the reference design, Otellini announced a multi-year “strategic partnership” with Motorola. If things go as planned, Motorola should be shipping out phones with Intel processors inside them in the second half of this year. 

Lenovo showed another phone even closer to release. Known as the Lenovo K800, it should be out within months. There’s just one problem (for us) – it’s China only. 

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Inside the reference design is an Intel Atom Z2460 running at up to 1.6 GHz. This is not an Atom in brand name only - the architecture is basically the same as any other Intel Atom processor. Unlike almost every other modern smartphone processor, this is a single-core part (for now). 

Though down a core to the competition, Intel suggested that the reference design is generally quicker than all current smartphones. Some early CPU benchmarks from Anandtech seem to back up that assertion. However, the graphics component isn’t up to par with today’s best, a fact that became evident when Intel showed a game demo using the reference device. It looked okay, but was clearly inferior to games running on Tegra 3.

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While the hardware seems to be coming together, software remains a potential roadblock. Intel showed their smartphone running Android 2.3 ported for x86. Because of how Android handles code, most Android apps are compatible despite the change in processor architecture.

Just one problem – some apps make specific references in their code to ARM features, and these apps will not function on x86. Intel is attempting to compensate for that using on-the-fly ARM to x86 code conversion.  It’s hard to judge how well that works without testing it first-hand, but at least Intel has a plan for dealing with the issue. 

My excitement about this announcement is tempered by the lack of available products. Timing is critical. The reference hardware might be quicker than today’s most popular smartphones, but new designs are constantly emerging, each quicker than the last. Releasing this product six months from now may result in a competitive product – but a delay forcing it into the holiday season could yet again spoil Intel’s dreams of smartphone dominance.

But even if Intel’s partners don’t translate this reference platform into products quickly, it at least shows that Intel is headed in the right direction. ARM is entrenched, but Intel has the resources and the engineers required to provide serious competition. CES 2013 could end up being the conference where x86 and ARM devices go toe-to-toe.  

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Intel