Smartphone makes sense
A smartphone with four brains? They’re real and they’re here, writes Jennifer Dudley-nicholson
IT’S one of the most sought-after smartphone features of 2012 and it’s at the centre of a mobile phone arms race. Phones with four brains — better known as quad-core processors — are finally emerging in Australian stores, offering unprecedented power, noticeable speed boosts, easy multi-tasking and the ability to perform tasks once only possible on full-size computers.
The quad-core chips are emerging in tablet computers, but it is their inclusion in topend smartphones that has the industry abuzz.
Telecommunications experts say the speedy new feature represents the smartphone’s ‘‘ evolution’’ and could deliver a host of new features to the computers in our pockets.
But they also warn smartphone buyers should look at more than just specifications, as these phones are only as good as their software allows and none feature 4G internet connections yet.
Samsung fuelled the new trend late last week with the launch of its much-anticipated quad-core device, the Samsung Galaxy S III.
The company’s new flagship smartphone uses a Samsung-created 1.4GHz quad-core chip that has seen it top phone testing scores.
But Samsung was beaten to launch by its closest Android rival, HTC, that delivered a 1.5GHz quad-core chip in the HTC One X this April.
These two standouts will get plenty of company as the year progresses with LG, Huawei and ZTE all poised to release quad-core phones shortly.
Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi says it is no surprise all incoming quadcore phones are Google Android-based as that is where competition is most fierce.
‘‘ Innovation is more likely to occur, whether it’s 3D screens or quad-core chips, in the Android market,’’ he says.
‘‘ As a phone maker, you have to try to stand out from the crowd with Android and often it is a specifications battle, whether that’s the number of gigahertz, the megapixels in the camera or the density of the pixels.’’
Fadaghi says phone users will benefit from this battle as the power boost could deliver better mobile gaming experiences, smoother multi-tasking and may eventually see phones ‘‘ encroach on what people can only do now on powerful computers’’.
Ovum principal analyst Adam Leach says the addition is part of a new ‘‘ evolution’’ for smartphones that could deliver new features and enhance existing ones.
Speech recognition, for example, could be processed inside a phone with quad-core power, he says.
But Leach warns just adding a new chip to a phone is not enough to ensure a quality experience. Consumers, he says, should carefully consider a handset’s entire feature list and the experience it delivers.
‘‘ You could put eight cores in a phone but it won’t matter if the software isn’t upgraded to use it,’’ he says.
Fadaghi says some smartphones may not receive the processing boost this year for another reason: battery life.
While some quad-core chips promise to be power efficient, they can tax a smartphone’s battery. It’s why Fadaghi predicts Apple will not add a quad-core chip to its new iPhone this year.
‘‘ If you look at the new iPad, it’s only got a dual-core chip with a quad-core video processor because it’s more power efficient,’’ he says.
It’s the same reason phone makers have yet to create a quad-core phone with 4G connectivity: the two most wanted phone features are also the two most power-hungry. Intelligent: A model with the latest Samsung Galaxy S III