Fujitsu, HTC, Huawei, LG, Tianyu and ZTE are the first handset vendors to present smartphones equipped with quad-core application processors.
The central theme of the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona seemed to be “more” as attendance grew to 67,000 visitors and the number of exhibitors surpassed 1,500. Many of the products and services presented at the show also related to the rapidly increasing adoption of smartphones and connected devices globally.
The first smartphones with dual-core application processors were released in early 2011, offering more than double the computing power of the previous generation high-end smartphones. About one year later, dual-core processors are finding their way into the mainstream handset segment as the high-end segment adopts next generation dual-core processors with higher clock speeds or new quad-core processors. However, these new application processors not only enable better user experiences through more computing power and more powerful graphics supporting larger screens with higher resolutions. During normal tasks, the system power consumption can be reduced by offloading some tasks to power optimised cores or media accelerators and reducing the clock frequency of the main cores by distributing the workload between the main cores.
The first quad-core smartphones from Fujitsu, HTC, LG, Tianyu and ZTE are based on NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 processor, which is branded as a “4-PLUS-1” processor since it can shut down the main cores and use an additional low power, low frequency Cortex-A9 core to handle light workloads. Huawei – which aims to triple smartphone shipments in 2012 to 60 million units and become the third largest handset vendor by 2015 – uses a quad-core processor from its subsidiary HiSilicon for use in its smartphones and tablets.
While many new smartphones showcased at the Mobile World Congress followed the general “more” theme and featured incremental updates, the Nokia 808 PureView can only be characterised as “much more”. The new handset features the largest image sensor with the highest resolution ever fitted to a mobile phone. Using a 41-megapixel sensor together with custom image signalling processor and software, the Nokia 808 PureView can improve picture quality dramatically using pixel oversampling, enable lossless zoom, or provide vastly expanded possibilities for reframing, cropping and resizing of already captured images.