Nvidia said on Thursday that China's Xiaomi Tech has launched the world's first smartphone powered by the Tegra 4 chip, the Xiaomi Mi3. The device was officially introduced during a special event in Beijing, and will launch on China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier, in October.
The new Xiaomi Mi3 phone actually has several variants based on the Qualcomm 800 SoC (MSM8974AB) and the Nvidia Tegra 4 chip. The Qualcomm models will be offered on China Unicom (WCDMA) and China Telecom (CDMA2000) whereas the Tegra 4 model will be used on China Mobile (TD-SCDMA). Regardless, Nvidia has finally broken into the smartphone scene, a trend that should eventually find its way into local smartphones here in the States.
As AnandTech points out, it will be interesting to see how Nvidia's Tegra 4 – which typically has appeared in tablets and Nvidia's own Shield handheld -- will perform in a platform with smaller TDP and available platform power. Xiaomi claims that the chip provides relatively similar performance when paired against the Qualcomm 8974AB chip in system benchmarks. That said, the new Mi3 smartphone may prove to be an interesting laboratory to compare the two chips in a nearly-identical hardware set.
It's also interesting that Xiaomi is using the Tegra 4 instead of the smartphone-focused Tegra 4i. The latter chip has its own built-in modem whereas the Tegra 4 relies on Nvidia's discrete Icera i500 modem. Then again, the Tegra 4 is designed for high-end smartphones as well as tablets, thus Xiaomi was obviously looking for high-performance in this new flagship device than a cost-saving Tegra alternative. AnandTech verified with Xiaomi that the phone doesn't use the Tegra 4 compatible i500 modem, but a different solution instead.
Regardless of the chip, the new flagship phone also sports a 5 inch 1080p IPS screen built by Sharp or LG, which supposedly offers "ultra-sensitive touch" capabilities even for users with wet or gloved fingers. The phone also contains a Cirrus Logic CS42L73 DAC chip, Immersion haptic feedback, a 13MP Sony IMX135 sensor with an F2.2 sapphire lens and dual LED on the back, and a 2MP camera on the front.
The phone also includes 2 GB of LPDDR3 RAM, at least 16 GB of storage with a read speed up to 120 MB/s, dual-band Wi-Fi, NFC and a 3,050 mAh battery. All of this is packed into a 8.1 mm high slick metal case featuring an aluminum-magnesium alloy metal inner frame. The phone currently costs CN¥1,999 (US$330) for the 16 GB version and CN¥2,499 ($410) for the 64 GB model.
"The Mi3 with Tegra 4 provides an amazing experience that consumers will absolutely love," said Lei Jun, Xiaomi founder and CEO. "We wanted it to be fantastic, and that’s why we partnered with Nvidia. Tegra 4 provides performance and features never before seen in a smartphone."
Nvidia talks more about the world's first Tegra 4 smartphone in a blog here.