ASUS Padfone

Which company will deliver the first quad-core Tegra 3 Android smartphone and when will it be available? I originally predicted it would happen this year, and it looked to be on track when NVIDIA unveiled Tegra 3, saying it would arrive in tablets by August with smartphones to follow by Christmas. Unfortunately that schedule was changed to tablets in October and smartphones in Q1 2012. We have yet to get our hands on the first quad-core Android device.

That should change soon enough. ASUS will launch their Transformer Prime on November 9, and today we learned their first quad-core smartphone should be available in February 2012. Digitimes is reporting that ASUS will launch the previously announced Padfone in February, which we expect will be powered by Tegra 3 and ship with Android 4.0.

ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih first revealed the Padfone at Computex in May. The first of its kind gadget allows users to “switch seamlessly between pad and phone for a user experience that best fits [their] activities.” The unique device was first slated for a holiday launch, but it appears that date was pushed back to make sure it shipped with the latest version of Android.

HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung also in the mix

NVIDIA said previously in a quarterly earnings call that they have a “whole lot of new design wins on Kal-El,” but we haven’t heard about too many rumored devices yet. Outside of the Transformer Prime, only some random ZTE tablet has been spotted in China. This year is already winding down, so it looks like we’ll have to wait ’till CES 2012 in January for the next big wave of product announcements.

Who might also be working on a Tegra 3 phone?

  • HTC: We normally think of HTC as exclusive with Qualcomm processors, but there are several signs that relationship is weakening. HTC already said NVIDIA-powered phones are possible in the future, and it appears 2012 will be the year that they start dual-sourcing processors as they continue to grow.
  • LG: The LG Optimus 2X was the world’s first dual-core phone. Earlier this year it looked like they could have the first quad-core phone. Since that time, we have heard no rumors of LG working on Tegra 3 devices. They source processors from just about every major semiconductor company, so we know they are willing to play with many platforms.
  • Motorola: Rumors from earlier this year said that Motorola was working on a pair of quad-core phones named Bullet and Jet, which were headed to Verizon in Q1 2012. Nothing has surfaced since that time, but Motorola was one of the early adopters of Tegra 2 phones.
  • Samsung: As big as they are, we always believe Samsung has the ability to deliver a “world’s first” type device. We know they like to use their own Exynos processor in their high-end devices, but they were forced to go with Tegra 2 in the Galaxy Tab 10.1 (it was the lead platform for Honeycomb tablets). Samsung also launched the Tegra-powered Galaxy R, so they have experience working with NVIDIA’s mobile platform.
Even though I’m currently a Samsung guy, I’d really like to see HTC branch out from Qualcomm and launch even more high-end devices. CES is just two months away, so we shouldn’t have to wait much longer for leaks about products that are headed to that show. Out of all the companies mentioned, which one would you like to see produce the first quad-core phone?

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