The typical electronics' watershed for smartphones is on the cusp of relegating 'smart' to 'average' due to continued penetration rates accompanied by decreasing pricing for early smartphones. Enter the latest set of mobile handsets, 'superphones.'
What is a 'superphone'?
Taxonomically, the superphone category is a wireless handset sub-category that is primarily characterized by having a larger screen (greater than four inches), increased processor power (greater than or equal to 1GHz) along with a sophisticated operating system (OS), according to Alex Spektor, Senior Analyst at Strategy Analytics, as cited in this article from the Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch. According to the recent industry report by Strategy Analytics, superphone growth,will begin to lead in mobile growth in 2012 (some examples of these devices include, but are not limited to, Samsung's Galaxy S2, HTC's Sensation, and Apple's iPhone 4S).
At the core
At the heart of the 'superphone' class is the next transition from today's smartphone and superphone groups that run on dual cores at the high end, to the next transition which is quad core. Quad core mobile? Is it necessary? Well, that's the question posed by this recent article from PCWorld (though focused more on tablets since that is where these processors are found in the mobile market). The answer may not be what you think.
Among the leaders in the mobile quad core processor space presently is Nvidia, . Suddenly gaming probably comes to mind for many, as this is where Nvidia made their name. So, the logical step in understanding the possible demand driver for a wider mobile audience (enterprise and consumer) might be along the lines of multitasking, power, integrated multimedia. Nvidia's Tegra 3 is certainly speaking volumes for their support of quad core mobile as the (near) future for enterprise and personal mobile device users. Presently these powerful mobile processors are making their way into tablet PCs, such as the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, as reviewed here by ComputerWorld, and Lenovo's upcoming tablet rumored here by Rethink Wireless. However, we have yet to see mobile quad core processors in (super) phones (presently only dual core phones are available).
So, why should we take mobile quad core seriously at this point? Power consumption. What we are seeing in the next generation processors is a cornerstone feature, that is, how components and devices are being evaluated. Energy efficiency, whether for battery life or for power draw, has been increasing in rank as a determining feature in purchases by enterprises and consumers alike.
With pure 'horse power' and speed nearing a point that the average device user might not notice the difference in processor speed and multitasking capabilities, the ability of quad cores to regulate how/which processors are used based on task demands means that you have a system that is able to conserve power, that means more battery life without additional battery weight or recharging demands.
Combining GreenTech features and processing power is likely the demand driver solution that will prove successful well into 2012.