China's ZTE Feb. 20 said it has teamed with application processor maker Nvidia on the ZTE Mimosa X smartphone, which will launch with Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich, operating system in the second quarter of this year.
The Mimosa X has a 4.3-inch quarter-high-definition (qHD) screen with a 960 by 540 resolution, a fairly common display technology among high-end Motorola handsets. There are also 5-megapixel rear- and front-facing cameras.
However, what makes the phone unique in that it's the first handset powered both by Nvidia's Tegra 2 dual-core application CPU, which powers several Android handsets and tablets, and the chip maker's Icera 450 Evolved High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA+) modem, which includes the baseband and radio-frequency processors.
This chipset controls the radio functions in the wireless phone, offering high throughput while consuming little power, an important characteristic in today's data-chomping smartphones.
However, ZTE promises this device won't skimp on performance, providing solid gaming and multimedia qualities, such as HD video recording and playback, advanced audio distribution profile (A2DP), Dolby sound, dual microphones and a built-in gyroscope.
The Mimosa X, which has 4GB of storage, expandable to 32GB via microSD, is also a break from Nvidia's previous practice of powering high-end devices.
ZTE did not specify pricing or delivery date for the Mimosa X. However, Michael Rayfield, general manager of Nvidia's mobile business, told AllThingsDigital the Mimosa X would be priced in the sub-$200-range, without a subsidy. This makes sense, given ZTE's penchant for selling low-cost phones in China.
ZTE is angling to cut a deeper piece of the large, juicy U.S. smartphone market pie, which is dominated by Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, as well as smartphones from Samsung, HTC and Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI). To do that, it will have to compete not only on price, but quality and functionality.
This co-branding with ZTE also marks a big step forward for Nvidia, which acquired Icera for $367 million in cash last June to provide a more complete mobile platform for its OEM partners.