Phones grow up

It’s a phone. It’s a com­puter. No, it’s a su­per­phone, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley-Ni­chol­son

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Gadgets -

FIRST there was the car phone. Then came the mo­bile phone. More re­cently, the smart­phone emerged. Now these de­vices are evolv­ing fur­ther into a dif­fer­ent, more pow­er­ful tele­phone that has al­ready been dubbed the ‘‘ su­per­phone’’.

These phones carry more grunt than your av­er­age hand­set, of­fer­ing more RAM, ex­tra stor­age and dual-core pro­ces­sors typ­i­cally seen in com­put­ers that won’t fit in a pocket.

Tech­nol­ogy ex­perts claim this ‘‘ new class’’ of ad­vanced phones will se­ri­ously chal­lenge their full-sized com­puter cousins in fu­ture by con­nect­ing to large screens and trans­form­ing into other de­vices to of­fer all the power of cur­rent desk­top com­put­ers.

While the term ‘‘ su­per­phone’’ ini­tially emerged in the TV se­ries Dr Who, it has more re­cently been pinned to these pow­er­ful phones.

Three ex­am­ples are now avail­able in Aus­tralia, be­gin­ning with the LG Op­ti­mus 2X in May and fol­lowed by the Mo­torola Atrix and Sam­sung Galaxy S II this month.

The sec­ond Sam­sung Galaxy S is the most pow­er­ful of the three — and the fastest on the mar­ket — of­fer­ing a 1.2GHz pro­ces­sor like those in net­books.

Sam­sung telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions vice-pres­i­dent Tyler McGee says the power boost makes com­plet­ing tasks ‘‘ eas­ier and faster’’ on a mo­bile phone.

‘‘ This means the mo­bile user will be able to en­joy en­hanced per­for­mance, faster web brows­ing, seam­less mul­ti­task­ing, supreme graphic qual­ity and an in­stantly re­spon­sive user in­ter­face on a large screen,’’ McGee says.

But Tel­syte re­search di­rec­tor Foad Fadaghi says mo­bile phone fa­nat­ics can ex­pect greater ad­vances from fu­ture su­per­phones, with even more pow­er­ful up­grades planned.

‘‘ We can ex­pect this trend to con­tinue and make mo­bile phones more like com­put­ers down the track — it’s headed that way,’’ he says.

‘‘ With­out a doubt you’ll see in­creased pro­cess­ing power start to ap­pear in phones, in­clud­ing quad-core pro­ces­sors. They will be avail­able for tablets, ini­tially, and then move into smart­phones.’’

To prove their po­ten­tial, chip maker Nvidia last week demon­strated early re­sults from its quad-core Kal-El mo­bile pro­ces­sor pro­ject. On­look­ers were shown a 3D game called Glowball be­ing ren­dered by its four pro­cess­ing cores with no vis­i­ble de­lay on the screen.

Nvidia claims the Kal-El pro­ces­sor will de­liver five times the per­for­mance of its dual-core pro­ces­sors cur­rently used in the Sam­sung Galaxy Tab 10.1v and Mo­torola XOOM tablet com­put­ers. Fadaghi says these per­for­mance gains will be used to speed up mo­bile gam­ing, en­able 3D cam­eras and de­liver dis­plays with even greater res­o­lu­tion ‘‘ than what you cur­rently get on full HD tele­vi­sions’’.

But some su­per­phones will use their power to be­come some­thing al­to­gether dif­fer­ent.

Mo­torola’s dual-core­pow­ered Atrix, for ex­am­ple, can be in­serted into a lap­top shell to run a full-sized web browser and be­come the brains be­hind a ba­sic lap­top re­place­ment.

The Tel­straex­clu­sive hand­set can also be plugged into a mon­i­tor, mouse and key­board to be­come a ba­sic and highly por­ta­ble com­puter.

Com­puter maker ASUS will also be part of the trend as it plans to of­fer a phone that morphs into a tablet com­puter.

It re­vealed the Pad­fone at Computex last week; a mo­bile phone that can be in­serted into the back of a tablet shell to of­fer a ‘‘ seam­less tran­si­tion’’ be­tween small and large screens.

In both cases, users only need one SIM card to ac­cess the in­ter­net on both de­vices, and the ac­ces­sory bat­tery will recharge the host phone.

Fadaghi says these unique, phone-trans­form­ing ac­ces­sories could even­tu­ally ‘‘ can­ni­balise’’ com­puter sales, re­plac­ing their use in some in­stances as they be­come more pow­er­ful and the soft­ware is re­fined.

Cur­rently, how­ever, he says they are part of a ploy by hard­ware mak­ers to en­sure their smart­phone stands out in a crowded mar­ket. Con­sumers will face tough choices, how­ever, as the speed of su­per­phone in­no­va­tion im­prove and sig­nif­i­cantly smarter phones emerge ev­ery six months.

‘‘ There are so many de­vel­op­ments hap­pen­ing so rapidly now,’’

Fadaghi says.

Be touched: Ad­vanced new phones have emerged ev­ery six months.

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