Feb 01 AT 10:00 PM Taylor Wimberly 64 Comments

Mobile World Congress 2012, aka the quad-core phone show

htc-mwc-invite

Mobile World Congress is less than a month away in Barcelona and the anticipation is quickly building for the gadgets that will be announced. We expect to see all kinds of Android devices from tablets to TVs, but the star of the show will be smartphones. And at this year’s show a particular kind of smartphone will take center stage: the quad-core-powered-beast.

Why do you need quad-core performance in a phone? Some people will say that mobile applications aren’t ready to take advantage of all that horsepower, and for the most part they are right. In our recent interview with NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang he explained the situation by saying, “It’s a little bit of the chicken and the egg. If the applications aren’t ready, you have to build a processor that inspires the applications to be ready.”

NVIDIA has already delivered their quad-core Tegra 3 processor to the OEMS and it must have inspired them to build some awesome devices because the number or rumored phones is starting to add up. Read on for the full list of quad-core phones that we should see at Mobile World Congress.

HTC One X (aka Supreme aka Endeavor aka Edge)

I still can’t believe I’m typing this, but HTC is rumored to power their 2012 flagship phone with a chip from NVIDIA, instead of Qualcomm. This comes as a shock for many since almost all of HTC’s recent phones have been powered by the Snapdragon processor, and Qualcomm has a minority investment in HTC.

This move was first hinted at last year when Stefan Streit, HTC’s VP of Marekting, said there was no exclusive deal with Qualcomm and “Nvidia or TI-powered smartphones and tablets are possible in the future.” Then rumors of the Tegra 3-powered HTC Edge started appearing in November, and it appears the phone is quite real.

Rumored specs of the HTC Edge include:

  • Quad-core 1.5 GHz Tegra 3 processor
  • Android 4.0 with Sense UI 4.0
  • 4.7-inch display with 720p resolution
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Backlit 8 MP camera with 28-millimeter, f/2.2 lens
  • Beats Audio
  • 32 GB internal storage
  • HSPA+ 21 Mbps support
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Slightly over 10 mm thick
The high-end specs are nice, but I hope HTC has some surprises up their sleeves to show off what this hardware can do. Based on recent leaks, it appears that HTC’s Sense 4.0 UI really hides the beauty of Android 4.0, but we haven’t really seen everything it can do. Given HTC’s good reputation with the developer community, the Edge has a chance to become the most popular Tegra 3 phone.

Fujitsu Arrows Tegra 3

Fujitsu also surprised a lot of folks at CES when they were the first company to showcase a Tegra 3 phone. Their prototype Arrows phone was kept under the glass, but they had a working unit that was running the game Riptide GP on the big screen. Fujitsu has traditionally targeted the Japanese market with most of their handsets landing on NTT Docomo, but a company representative told me they plan to enter the U.S. market this year.

Highlights of the device include:

  • Quad-core 1.2GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor
  • Android 4.0
  • 4.6″ 1280 X 720 TFT-LCD
  • 13.1-megapixel camera capable of ISO 25,600 sensitivity
  • 1 GB RAM (prototype had 4 GB RAM)
  • LTE support
  • Waterproof and dustproof
Look for Fujitsu to unveil a slightly redesigned Arrows smartphone at MWC. We expect they could ditch the hardware buttons and go with software buttons we have seen on other Android 4.0 phones.

LG Optimus 4X HD (aka X3)

LG was the first company with a Tegra 2 phone, so we expected them to deliver another device based on the latest Tegra offering. Earlier this month, Evan Blass of PocketNow posted the first report of the LG X3, which he said is likely to debut at MWC.

Highlights of the device include:

  • Quad-core Tegra processor
  • Android 4.0
  • 4.7-inch 1280×720 display
  • 8 megapixel rear camera, 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera
  • 16GB of expandable storage
  • Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, WiFi 802.11b/g/n
  • HSPA+ 21 Mbps support
  • 2,000mAh battery
  • Under 9mm thin

Everyone else is showing their Tegra 3 phone next month, so we expect LG to join the party.

Huawei Diamond Series

Huawei impressed us at CES with their Ascend P1 LTE phone, but the company says they have a new Diamond Series coming at MWC that will be their “smartest, fastest and most high-performing smartphone.” The Ascend P1 LTE was using the new dual-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4, so we expect the Diamond Series could feature Tegra 3. Not much else is known about the Diamond Series, so hopefully we learn more at MWC.

ASUS quad-core phone?

ASUS PadfoneAsus has announced they will unveil a newly redesigned Padfone at Mobile World Congress. Protoype units show at CES were running Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 processor, but there have been conflicting reports that the final design could feature Tegra 3 instead. Asus produced the first quad-core tablet with their Transformer Prime, so it’s possible they could use the same processor in this flagship phone.

The Padfone is sure to impress with its innovative tablet dock that brings the smartphone’s content to a larger display. The tablet dock is also said to work with the ASUS keyboard docking station from their Transformer tablets, so this could be one of the most interesting products we see at MWC.

Samsung, Motorola, and Meizu

In addition to all the leaked quad-core phones, we might see a few surprises. Samsung will not be showing their Galaxy S III phone at MWC, but they will be showing several exciting new mobile products that could include some quad-core devices. These products could be powered by Samsung’s own quad-core Exynos 4412 processor or Samsung could use NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 again (like they did with the Galaxy Tab 10.1).

Motorola appears to be firmly aligned with Texas Instruments processors, but they have a history of dual-sourcing their parts. We saw Motorola use Tegra 2 for their Xoom tablet and Atrix smartphone, so it’s always possible they could surprise us with a Tegra 3 device. My gut tells me they will debut a couple products powered by the new dual-core 1.8 GHz OMAP4470, but anything is possible.

Finally, we could see a special appearance by the Meizu MX quad-core phone. Their dual-core model was powered by the Exynos 4210 and their quad-core model is rumored to use the Exynos 4412, but that chip is not official yet so anything is game.

And the competition?

NVIDIA will steal the show at Mobile World Congress when it comes to mobile quad-core processors, but they won’t be the only game in town. Qualcomm will make a strong showing with their dual-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4, Texas Instruments will impress with their dual-core 1.8 GHz OMAP4470, and Samsung could reveal their dual-core 2.0 GHz Exynos 5250.

Even though Qualcomm, TI, and Samsung may have chips that offer faster performance, it looks like the average consumer already assumes that quad-core is better than dual-core. I believe most of these chips will offer performance numbers in the same ball park, and the average consumer doesn’t care who wins the different benchmark scores. It will come down to which OEM can best take advantage of the hardware they choose and who can deliver new user experiences that will excite the customer.

My prediction? With Samsung holding their Galaxy S III for a separate event later in the year, HTC comes away with the best smartphone of MWC 2012.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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