More than a month ago Nvidia unveiled the new Tegra 4 SoC and its Android-based gaming console-like Project Shield product. At the time we wondered whether the company will make other Android-based devices, such as smartphones and tablets, but the company dismissed such questions by stating that it’s not interested in building such hardware. But what if?
It looks like Nvidia did build its own Android smartphone, the 5-inch Nvidia Phoenix, which it showed around at MWC 2013. Why build a device like that – a handset that clearly aims to compete against top-of-the-crop handsets including the Sony Xperia Z, the HTC One or the upcoming Galaxy S4 – if you didn't want to make it in the first place?
Not necessarily answering to that question, The Verge has it that Nvidia wants to “build ‘mainstream superphones,” devices with today’s highest specs, priced at tomorrow’s mid-range prices.” Nvidia is probably interested in having as many OEMs use its Tegra 4 and Tegra 4i chips instead the available alternatives, which may be more important than building its own smartphones and tablets right now.
Therefore we’re rather looking at the Phoenix development platform here, something OEMs could use to build their own Tegra 4i-based smartphones, not a device that’s meant to reach retail stores anytime soon. The Phoenix features a 5-inch display with 1080p resolution (obviously,) the Nvidia Tegra 4i LTE-ready chip, a 13-megapixel camera, and Android OS – all pretty much standard features for flagship Android handsets this year.
The Phoenix is made of plastic, although build quality isn't Nvidia's main concern for the device, and it’s very thin. From the looks of it, Nvidia already has some partners in mind, as the company said that “the eventual retail units from partners will be even thinner still.”
Since this is still an early development unit, the Phoenix lacks the smoothness of high-end devices, at least for now, but things could change dramatically in the future, as Nvidia will certainly optimize it to show OEMs that Tegra 4 and Tegra 4i are definitely SoCs to be considered for high-end Android devices.
Should we expect Phoenix versions in store later this year, but sporting different branding, you know, the kind of carrier-made devices that mobile operators build for themselves? Will any major OEMs sell any Phoenix-based devices later this year? It's too early to answer such questions, but we’ll be back with more Phoenix details as soon as we have them.