LAS VEGAS — With much of the talk at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show this week focused on the Internet of Things and wearable tech, mobile vendors used the annual tech-fest to show off creative new designs and updates. Amidst the Android-enhanced cars and wearable technologies -- most visibly smartwatches and exercise-related wristbands -- many hardware companies also eagerly touted new smartphone and tablet offerings.
And with good reason. There is still a hefty market for the latest and greatest in mobile phones. Research firm Gartner projects that of the 2.5 billion mobile devices expected to ship worldwide in 2014, 1.9 billion of those will be mobile phones, a 5 percent increase from 2013. While not as significant as years past, it still is positive growth in a competitive sector, thanks to China and other emerging mobile markets.
Alcatel, looking to take a larger piece of this burgeoning global smartphone market, is updating its flagship OneTouch device, which now includes a new, eight-core chipset from MediaTek that looks to bolster performance while preserving battery life.
At CES on January 6, Alcatel unveiled the Android-based OneTouch Idol X+ smartphone powered by the MediaTek True Octa-Core chipset, a 2 GHz system-on-chip (SoC) design that offers additional support for web browsing with WiFi, as well as enhanced video decoding compared to older, four-core chipsets.
The OneTouch Idol X+ device is one of several different smartphone designs Alcatel has created for its European markets, as well as consumers in the hot Chinese market. The company also plans a North American push, although prices and carrier support have not yet been announced.
One of the places where Alcatel and others look to make a difference is the hardware itself, which is where the eight-core MediaTek chipset comes in. In a statement, Jeffrey Ju, a MediaTek general manager in the smartphone unit, said consumers continued to demand more of their devices, including heavy-use applications such as video and gaming. The answer is better multicore design that allows the cores to work together:
We are seeing an increased need for heavy downloading, hardcore gaming and high quality video viewing coupled with the demand for increased battery life and computing power and the MT6592 is designed to intelligently maximize the use of all eight cores simultaneously to address these needs.
With the eight-core chipset, MediaTek says the IdolX+ will use 40 percent less battery life while web browsing on WiFi, and 65 percent less when decoding video.
In addition to the new multicore chipset, the Alcatel IdolX+ offers a 5 inch, high-definition (1080 x 1920) display, and measures 7.9 mm thick, which puts it on par with many of the other high-end smartphones on the market right now. The smartphone also offers a 13.1 megapixel camera -- plus 1080p video recording capabilities -- along with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone runs the 4.2, or Jelly Bean, build of Android.
The continued popularity of Android is helping to push the smartphone market, especially in China, where a glut of new devices is expected this year. In a January 8 report, Technology Business Research finds that China remains a greenfield for cutting-edge devices as consumers there look to catch up with mature markets in North America and Western Europe.
“The Android smartphone platform combined with fervent demand for mobile devices from China’s consumers continues to create vast opportunities for new vendors in the smartphone space and, in turn, transformed the smartphone landscape and its pricing structure,” the TBR analysts noted.
— Scott Ferguson, Editorial Director, DeusM