With Verizon, Sprint, and possibly AT&T set to release Android phones this holiday season, we expect to see some exciting new hardware. Arguably the most requested feature is speed. To date, every Android phone has included the same 528 MHz chipset family from Qualcomm and we are ready for an upgrade.
Snapdragon is the name of the Qualcomm’s latest mobile platform and offers significant speed enhancements. CPU speeds start at 1.0 GHz and go up to 1.5 GHz.
Qualcomm demonstrated Android running on Snapdragon at CES 2009 in January. Toshiba unveiled the first Snapdragon smartphone running Widows Mobile (TG01) at Mobile World Congress in February. This past month Orange UK began offering the TG01 to their customers.
When will the first Android phone with Snapdragon go on sale in the US? I speculated the upcoming Motorola Sholes for Verizon might be that device. There are no official announcements, but more evidence is beginning to mount.
Andy Rubin, Director of Mobile Platforms at Google, recently told Reuters that future versions of Android (due this year) would take advantage of Snapdragon. Reuters also reports that Donut and Eclair will be released this year and refers to them as Android 1.6 and Android 2.0. Mr. Rubin cited 3D gaming as an example of applications set to benefit from the powerful new processor. “They’re really closing the gap and you’re really starting to carry around a small computer in your pocket,” he said. “You can start really thinking about serious gaming like you would on a Nintendo DS or a PSP handheld.”
Why would Mr. Rubin choose to use Snapdragon as an example when referring to future Android handsets? He has told us we would see 15-20 new devices before years end but has declined to offer any specifics. Qualcomm is also reporting that 15 manufacturers (including HTC, LG, Samsung, ASUS, Toshiba) are working on over 30 devices based on Snapdragon. It appears virtually every handset manufacturer of the Open Handset Alliance has their focus on Snapdragon.
With all that being said, I still believe Motorola could offer the first Snapdragon phone to Android fans. Motorola has been ultra secretive with any details on the handset specs, but we know two phones will go on sale this year. If Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha really wants to make a statement, it makes perfect sense to me he would partner with his former company Qualcomm and make this happen with a Snapdragon phone.
This would be a huge win for Google as well. After reading the reports from Reuters, it appears we will see the Android 2.0 name being used later this year. What better way to promote the Android 2.0 release than to launch the fastest phone on America’s largest carrier Verizon? Come September, we should have the answer.
My fingers are crossed.