I had fun this week speculating what CPU would be featured in the upcoming Motorola Sholes (Android phone) for Verizon. We were hoping it might be the first Snapdragon based Android phone, but it looks like I was wrong. Several readers kept suggesting it was a Texas Instruments processor instead, but I could find no connection with Motorola.
Using the power of Google search, I think I found the missing link. Look at this info taken from the LinkedIn profile of a Motorola employee with the title “3GSM Reference Design Principal Staff Firmware Engineer at Motorola”.
He list all kinds of interesting information, but all we care about is Android. Clearly, Motorola is working on an Android device with the TI OMAP 3430 processor and it’s not the Morrison. With this new info in hand, the pieces of this Sholes puzzle are starting to come together.
1. Sholes will have a TI OMAP 3430 processor
As cool as it would have been to get a Snapdragon phone, it looks like we will have to wait till 2010. The Texas Instruments OMAP3430 is a more mature processor and ready for mass production at an affordable price now. Noteable phones to feature the OMAP3430 include the Palm Pre, Sony Ericsson IDOU, and the Samsung OMNIA HD.
We could spend an entire post on the OMAP3430, but I’ll just give you the highlights. The OMAP3430 has a 600 MHz CPU and contains a PowerVR SGX 530 GPU. For detailed information on the OMAP3430, please see Texas Instruments or Imagination Technologies.
2. Sholes will ship with Eclair(Android 2.0?) and feature serious gaming
Google worked very closely with T-Mobile and HTC to bring us the G1. The launch was a success and Google is going to double their efforts with Verizon and Motorola. Verizon is the largest carrier in North America and Google will use this opportunity to showcase Android. Sholes is going to be the new flagship device for Android in 2009.
We know the upcoming Donut branch is not Android 2.0. According to the Reuters interview with Andy Rubin last week, Eclair is likely to get the 2.0 love and be ready to ship this year. Donut is set to include many UI enhancements and Eclair looks to focus on multimedia and gaming.
Rubin said, “You can start really thinking about serious gaming like you would on a Nintendo DS or a PSP handheld.” This makes perfect sense because the OMAP3430 supports the latest OpenGL ES 2.0 standard. Google also recently released the Android Native Development Kit and is hard at work on an upgrade. Browsing Google groups I found this info on the NDK, “In a future release we hope to support linking with OpenGL ES and audio libraries, which should enable high-performance games.”
Native support for OpenGL ES 2.0 + hardware acceleration from the PowerVR SGX 530 = mobile gaming device more powerful than a Sony PSP or Nintendo DSi
3. Sholes will sell for $199
Verizon just slashed the prices on most of their smartphones to $99. Boy Genius Report speculated “new crap is coming” and he was right. Given the current wireless market, $199 is the obvious price for the Motorola Sholes. It has comparable specs to the Palm Pre and iPhone 3Gs which also debuted at $199.
If Verizon wanted to get super aggressive I suppose they could subsidize the phone at a lower price. This would be quite amazing, but I don’t see it happening. The $199 price tag is justified for Sholes and I don’t think people are going to complain over that.
Given that Sholes could possibly ship with Android 2.0, I’m going to change my targeted launch date from October to late November. I would expect to see Sholes right before Thanksgiving.
Summary of the leaked specs for Sholes:
- OMAP3430 – 600 MHz ARM Cortex A8 + PowerVR SGX 530 GPU + 430MHz C64x+ DSP + ISP (Image Signal Processor)
- Dimensions 60.00 x 115.80 x 13.70 mm
- Weight 169 g
- Battery Li-ion 1400 mAh.
- Standby 450 hours, talk time 420 minutes
- 3.7-inch touch-sensitive display with a resolution of 854×480 pixels, 16 million color depth. Physical screen size is 45.72 mm by 81.34 mm.
- 512MB/256MB ROM/RAM
- microSD / microSDHC expansion slot
- Camera: 5.0 megapixel with autofocus and video recorder
- Connectivity: USB2.0, 3.5mm audio jack, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, Wi-Fi
- Supported audio formats: AMR-NB/WB, MP3, PCM / WAV, AAC, AAC +, eAAC +, WMA
- Supported video formats: MPEG-4, H.263, H.264, WMV
- GPS navigation
- Package Contents: Phone Motorola Sholes, battery, charger, USB cable, 8GB MicroSD memory card and other literature.
p.s. given the huge role that sholes will play, i have a hard time seeing verizon cripple android. i expect the full google experience.