Feb 20 AT 8:30 PM Taylor Wimberly 28 Comments

ZTE unveils first smartphone with NVIDIA’s Icera modem, Tegra goes mainstream


When most think of a mainstream or entry-level smartphone, we picture some cheap junk with a small low-res screen, crappy camera, and an outdated version of Android.

Now imagine a smartphone running Android 4.0 with a 4.3 inch qHD display, 5 MP rear camera + VGA front camera, and a dual-core Tegra 2 processor. Obviously the specs don’t match up with the upcoming high-end devices, but what if I told you such a phone could be purchased for around $150, without a contract.

Today Chinese handset manufacturer ZTE announced the Mimosa X. It features all the specs mentioned above along with NVIDIA’s Icera 450 HSPA+ modem. NVIDIA just acquired Icera last year and this is the first Android device to feature their technology.

“The ZTE Mimosa X is exciting for a few reasons,” said Michael Rayfield, General Manager of the Mobile business at NVIDIA. “The Mimosa X marks the first time NVIDIA technology powers all the major processors in a single smartphone, and also the first time a premium mobile computing experience is coming to the mainstream smartphone market.”

ZTE said the Mimosa X will launch around Q2, but no carrier partners were announced. The final price still remains a mystery, but NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang hinted at it during a recent earnings call. When asked about growth opportunities for 2012, Jen-Hsun mentioned that Tegra 2 was a good fit for mainstream phones.

Jen-Husn said, “The third growth opportunity is the 999 or what some people call 1000RMB phone. And this is an affordable, very affordable smartphone with dual-core capability and the way that they describe it, the way the marketplace internalized it is it’s a phone that has the capability of an iPhone 4 but is extremely affordable.”

The “1000RMB” term stands for 1000 Chinese Yuan, which is around $159 with the current conversion rates.

In today’s pre-paid market it is possible to find Android phones priced below $199, but I wouldn’t recommend them to any of my friends. If ZTE can deliver the Mimosa X at that sub-$199 price range off contract, then I think we will see them move a lot of units. Heck at that price, we could see it on one of the big carriers for free on contract.

Overall, the Mimosa X looks like a solid effort from ZTE. Hopefully more details will be revealed next week at Mobile World Congress. ZTE just showed off a Tegra 3 tablet at CES, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they also unveil a Tegra 3 smartphone.

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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