No quad-core smartphones from Sony until 2013 – a mistake, or a stroke of genius?

ARM Cortex A15 ProcessorAlthough many expected one or two to arrive during CES 2012, we’ve had to wait until Mobile World Congress for our first look at the next-generation of smartphone — those with quad-core processors hidden inside. Anticipation has been building for months, following several tantalizing demos of the Nvidia Tegra 3, and judging by what we’ve seen so far, the hardware has been worth the wait.

LG was first out of the blocks with the Optimus 4X HD, then came the HTC One X, the ZTE Era and Huawei’s Ascend D Quad, and it’s almost certain Samsung is waiting in the wings with the quad-core Samsung Galaxy S III. There are two other major manufacturers who unveiled new phones at the show, but are missing from the above list. Nokia is the first (CEO Stephen Elop has made his thoughts about quad-core power quite clear in the past) and the newly formed Sony Mobile.

During CES in January, Sony outed the Xperia S and Xperia Ion, two Android phones with very powerful 1.5GHz Snapdragon processors — both dual-core. At MWC this week, the Xperia P and Xperia U appeared, which are lower-range devices featuring 1GHz NovaThor chips.

So why did Sony not introduce a quad-core flagship?

No quad-cores until 2013

In a conversation with CNET Asia, Sony’s product manager made it quite clear it wouldn’t be releasing a quad-core smartphone until 2013 at the earliest. The reason is simple: The company doesn’t feel “that the performance matches the battery efficiency.”

It isn’t discounting the idea of a quad-core phone entirely, adding that when it makes sense to switch — i.e. both quality and performance are equally high and there is a range of apps which take advantage of such a chip — it will do so.

Marketing nonsense

Because Quad-core phones are very new and few real-world tests have been carried out, nobody really knows how well batteries will handle their powerful processors and, in most cases, massive screens. After all, many current devices struggle to last a day without a charge, and none of those have more than two cores.

Will Nokia’s Stephen Elop be proved correct? Are quad-core phones “hand-warmers” with little benefit over fast single or dual-core processors? Sony Mobile certainly seems to share this opinion.

The trouble is, the word ‘quad-core’ sounds better than ‘dual-core’ regardless of which is actually superior, and bigger means better when it comes to selling new hardware. It’s the same story throughout consumer electronics; just try comparing contrast levels on HDTVs.

For a company needing to assert itself in an incredibly competitive market, it’s a brave move for Sony to decide not to grab some cheap publicity with a quad-core phone.

ARM Cortex A15

Sony could be the smart one here. Instead of adopting a quad-core chip, it plans to use the Cortex A15 architecture during the second half of 2012. Why? “We feel [it] outperforms the current quad-core architecture.”

The first devices to use the ARM Cortex A15 design will appear toward the end of the year, and Samsung has announced it has also built the 2GHz dual-core Exynos 5250 around it.

Texas Instruments has also adopted it for its OMAP 5 processor, and has released a video showing the performance differences between it running at 800MHz and a 1.3GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3.

Just when the dual-core phone appeared to be starting its march toward the grave, it looks like it could make a very exciting comeback indeed.

Wearables

Focals succeed where Google Glass fumbled (but do we really need smartglasses?)

It’s been seven years since Google took the wraps off Google Glass. Now, we’re finally getting a modern-day equivalent we want to wear. North’s Focals combine subtle style with an intuitive interface to craft smartglasses you’ll…
Mobile

Own an unlocked Galaxy S9? The U.S. Android Pie update has landed

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Computing

If Core i5 CPUs are great for most people, do you really need a Core i7?

This guide is designed to help you decide whether you need the extra technological enhancements provided by the i7 core, or if the more affordable Core i5 will suit your needs. In the i5 vs. i7 battle, which is best for you?
Mobile

Gorilla Glass 6 will cover the Xiaomi Mi 9's AMOLED screen

Xiaomi's next major smartphone release will be the Mi 9, and the company hasn't held back in giving us a good look at the phone, revealing the design, the camera, and a stunning color.
Mobile

Flip from portrait to landscape as we reveal how to rotate a video on iPhone

If you've accidentally shot a video in portrait orientation and you want to flip to landscape, then this is the guide for you. We'll explain how to use iMovie to rotate a video on your iPhone or iPad for free and suggest alternative apps.
Mobile

5G is the swift kick VR and AR gaming needs to come to fruition

There's a lot of hype surrounding augmented reality and virtual reality, but is it really the next big thing? We take a look at where the new mediums stand, as well as how 5G is poised to help them break into the mainstream.
Mobile

The 2019 iPhone could put a charge into your other Apple gadgets

While it's not been long since the last iPhones launched, rumors for the next iPhone are already surfacing. Apple's 2019 flagship could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features.
Deals

This discounted smartwatch is a cheap Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa alternative

The Amazfit Bip isn't an Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa, but at the discounted price of $67, it's a very affordable alternative packed with useful features. With built-in GPS and 30-day battery life, this cheap smartwatch is a great option to…
Gaming

Xbox's app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Mobile

It looks like Google may get rid of the back button in Android Q

Android Pie recently rolled out, but it's already time to look ahead to Android Q, the next version of Google's mobile OS. We've seen a number of rumors and leaks come out about the operating system -- here's everything we know so far.
Deals

Amazon cuts prices on the Apple Watch Series 3 for Presidents’ Day

The Apple Watch Series 3 is seeing the same price cut we saw during the Amazon sale just last week. So if you're hoping to pick up an Apple Watch for less than $250, this $50 discount from Amazon can make that happen for you.
Deals

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.
Deals

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for February 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for December 2018.