The speed of Motorola's new Atrix 4G and Droid Bionic will raise the bar in smartphone performance later this year. Will consumers jump for the speed bump?
Tablets may have defined the geeky gestalt of the 2011 Consumer Electronics
Show, but the show will also be undoubtedly viewed as the coming-out party for
smartphones and a tablet with dual-core processors.
Motorola's Atrix 4G handset, Droid Bionic smartphone
Motorola Xoom tablet will all run Nvidia Tegra 2 chips, which feature two 1GHz processors on a single die.
Consider that just 15 months ago the original Motorola Droid launched with a
then-standard 550MHz chip. Two months after that, the Google Nexus One debuted
with a 1GHz chip, which became the new industry standard for Android
Motorola is pushing the envelope again. eWEEK tested the processing speeds
of the Atrix 4G, which is rolling out from AT&T in the first quarter, and
the Droid Bionic, which Verizon Wireless will offer in the second quarter.
The test was done
with the 1GHz-powered Motorola Droid X. Though the
Droid X is no data-piping slouch, eWEEK noticed a marked drop in latency from
the Droid X to the new devices.
In our opinion, the arrival of dual-core will date the 1GHz phones.
Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney was less impressed, noting that dual-core is a
foregone conclusion just as quad core will be some day.
"I don't consider it the revolution that many seem to think it
is," Dulaney said. "It's happened on the PC side, and it was logical
to think that all processors would implement at least dual-core."
He also said he would surprised if the iPhone 5 next summer didn't come
fueled by dual-core.
Independent analyst Jack Gold agreed that Apple will employ dual-core on its
next-generation phone. He also said he wouldn't be surprised to see a quad-core
ARM chip in the next 12 to 18 months,
including from Apple.
"But of course, the mobile OSes would have to catch up and be able to
utilize on all those cores to make it attractive to deploy them," Gold
told eWEEK, adding that Android still really doesn't work on multicore/multithread.
Now it remains to be seen what kind of pricing these speedier phones will
get. Generally, a faster processor will yield a price bump.
Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha would
only say at CES that the new phones will come with "competitive"
pricing. That usually means the devices will be priced to sell but comparable
to others in the market.
But Motorola is the first to mass-market dual-core smartphones, so it can
set the pricing.
The question is: Will Motorola price these new phones at the high-end
smartphone average of $199 with contract, or dip into the more risqu??Â« pool
$200-plus phones, such as the $249 Samsung Epic 4G?
Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart told
that instead of a more pricey device, he expects a premium for data
We'll have to wait another month or two before Motorola and its carrier
partners unveil the costs for these new dual-core smartphones and data plans.