Feb 19 AT 9:00 AM Taylor Wimberly 9 Comments

Is NVIDIA’s Phoenix reference smartphone platform a good sign for the company?


Recent years have taught us that NVIDIA is a company that likes to brag about how many design wins their chips are racking up, but there was no mention of any OEM partners with today’s announcement of Tegra 4i — their first mobile processor with an integrated LTE modem.

Instead of actual consumer products, NVIDIA decided to introduce their own reference smartphone platform called Phoenix. The platform is a blueprint that phone makers can reference in designing and building future Tegra 4i smartphones to help get them to market quicker. NVIDIA hopes that Phoenix can drive down the costs of smartphones, just as their Kai platform helped lower the price of quad-core tablets.

Highlights of the Phoenix reference platform include the new Tegra 4i chip with integrated LTE modem, 5 inch 1080p display with DirectTouch and PRISM 2, 13 megapixel camera with computational photography, and a slim 8mm design.

The three premium features that NVIDIA is planning to bring to the mainstream are 1080p displays, LTE integration, and computational photography architecture. These are all features we would love to see in mainstream phones, but NVIDIA will need to deliver this platform at a low cost, and they are not talking numbers yet.

As we pointed out earlier, Tegra 4 had zero non-reference design wins announced at launch and now Tegra 4i continues that trend. Some critics see this as bad news for NVIDIA. Charlie Demerjian of SemiAccurate writes, “The chances of any significant device wins [for Tegra 4] are essentially zero.”

We don’t think the situation is that dire, but the absence of any volume OEMs from NVIDIA’s announcements is a change of pace. Either NVIDIA is testing out the “quietly brilliant” strategy of HTC, or there truly are a lack of Tegra 4 design wins to talk about at the moment.

Mobile World Congress is just around the corner, so I expect we will have a much clearer picture of Tegra 4′s fate and Phoenix’s price in the coming weeks.

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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  • 787 – the fireball in the sky

    A phoenix caught fire, maybe they teamed up with Boeing???

  • MisterLee

    what is computational photography???

    • MisterLee

      Never mind read the Tegra 4I post and answered my own question lol

  • Paul

    Wow the tone of this article is radically different than the tone of other articles about the Tegra 4i I’ve seen on various other sites. It’s interesting to see the contrast. Other sites have said the Phoenix reference phone would be between $100-$300. So numbers had to have been mentioned? Spec for Spec, the Tegra 4i has great specs for the price. It’s a great mid level phone and something that the average user could easily run and enjoy and be able to play pretty much anything you throw at it. And if phones using this chip really are in the $100-$300 range unlocked, that’s incredible. You’ll see a lot of “free” Android phones coming out soon (with 2 year agreement) with these incredible specs. Please AndroidAndMe readers, I love this site, but if you’re at all halfway interested in this processor, check out some other Android sites for their more in depth review of this chip and the specs and what sets it apart (such as the first software modem [means it can be upgraded to future standards]).

    • Paul

      ewww. Didn’t see the seperate review about the 4i specifically. Reading that now. A lot better and much more in depth. I don’t understand why the Phoenix reference is such a bad thing. Doesn’t a reference phone mean manufacturers can get a phone based on that chipset to market quickly? It’s better than throwing a chip at HTC/Motorola/Samsung/Sony/LG/Acer/Asus and saying “here, have at it”. It’s better to give them the chip, all the specs of the chip, and an actual working unit using the chip. I think it’s a sign that nvidia is trying to get their chip into actual phones to the market faster (maybe they’re scared of Qualcomm’s new chips?) I mean, first nvidia makes the Project Shield device, and now they’re doing reference phones. Maybe they’re stretching their hardware-making wings a little bit, or maybe they’re trying to ensure a little better quality control of who uses their chips, saying “here, this is how you should integrate the chip with the rest of the phone”. To make sure there’s some consistency/quality there.

  • donger

    Only time will tell.

  • Nathan D.

    Well i don’t really care which one is powering my next phone as long as one of these two or better.

  • rohan007

    nvida is sure working hard after the project shield

  • Pat Kerby

    I hope that Nvidia finally comes out with a phone! The Nvidia processor is a great Idea, considering they are top of the line in grafics cards for computers!!! I love my GForce Nvidia grafics cards!!!!