ZTE Aims To Launch The First Tegra 4 Smartphones In China By The End Of 1H 2013

When NVIDIA officially pulled back the curtains on its new Tegra 4 SoC at CES, it had no shortage of praise for the thing — the company referred to it as “the world’s fastest mobile processor” — but there was something missing from the announcement. Who would be using be using it?

Sure, Vizio revealed a 10.1-inch, T4-powered tablet just a day later, but there was nary a phone partnership in sight until tonight. NVIDIA has just announced it is working with the folks at ZTE to launch the first Tegra 4-powered smartphones in China during the first half of this year.

Here’s a quick refresher on the Tegra 4 in case you haven’t been keeping up with the wild and woolly world of mobile systems-on-chips. This particular SoC sports 72 GPU cores, as well a quad-core processor that feature’s ARM Cortex A15 core, and LTE support by way of NVIDIA’s Icera acquisition.

NVIDIA’s deal with ZTE honestly seems like a mixed bag. Don’t get me wrong — the Chinese company is capable of crafting some nice hardware (and we’re sure to see some of it at Mobile World Congress next week), but one can’t help but wonder if NVIDIA would’ve preferred a higher-profile partner to help usher in the age of Tegra. That’s not to say that NVIDIA isn’t getting anything out of this deal though. Far from it, actually — continued buy-in from a notable Chinese OEM will only help NVIDIA strengthen its position in a fast-growing mobile market.

For now, there’s no word on exactly what ZTE devices the Tegra 4 will find itself in, but NVIDIA is awfully fond of throwing the term “superphone” around, so I’d expect something with at least a little bit of wow factor.

Meanwhile, some of rival Qualcomm’s recently revamped chipsets have appeared in high-end hardware — HTC’s new One has a Snapdragon 600 ticking away inside of it, and it may not be alone. Rumor has it that Samsung is having some heat management problems with its newer in-house Exynos chipsets, and is mulling a switch to a Qualcomm SoC for its flagship Galaxy S IV. Couple that with the high-end 800 we saw at CES and the Snapdragon 200 and 400 chipsets that just officially got the nod and NVIDIA’s certainly got a fight on its hands.