Handset vendors including Motorola, LG and Samsung are the first to present high-end smartphones with dual-core application processors.
Advancements in processing power, screen technology, memory and connectivity options have enabled high-end smartphones to become as powerful as entry-level PCs while offering longer battery life and superior portability. Processing performance in high-end smartphones increased significantly in mid-2009 when handsets using application processors based on the ARMv7 instruction set were introduced. The first smartphones with dual-core application processors were released in Q1-2011, offering more than double the computing power of the previous generation high-end smartphones. These dual-core Cortex-A9 processors are comparable to Intel Atom processors commonly used in netbooks. New processor architectures and additional processor cores will bring more than double the computing power annually in the next few years. By the end of 2015, high-end smartphones can have up to 20 times higher computing power than handsets based on dual-core Cortex-A9 processors – about the same as a high-end notebook or desktop computer today.
Handset vendors have also begun to explore new accessories that enhance the usability of smartphones as computing platforms. Along with the launch of the Motorola Atrix smartphone with Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core 1 GHz processor, Motorola has released a laptop dock that looks like a small notebook with 11.5-inch display, full width QWERTY keyboard, trackpad and two USB ports. When connected to the laptop dock, the Motorola Atrix becomes a basic notebook computer with instant-on operating system. Another option is the HD Multimedia Dock that supports up to three USB devices such as keyboard and mouse. A standard HDMI port is used to connect the Motorola Atrix to an HD monitor or TV. When connected to the Lapdock or HD Multimedia Dock, the handset starts the webtop application that features a full Firefox browser and allows the user to view and edit documents stored on the device.
At the Mobile World Congress in 2011, Samsung announced the Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone as the successor to its highly successful Galaxy S handsets that sold over 10 million units in 2010. The new handset is an example of how improvements in graphics performance also make smartphones competitive alternatives to video cameras, media players and handheld gaming consoles. The latest high-end smartphones already support playback of 1080p HD video when connected to a TV using an HDMI cable. Many smartphones released in 2010 support 720p HD video capture. The Samsung Galaxy S II is among the first high-end devices capable of recording 1080p HD video.