The Tegra 3 Android handset that Fujitsu had showed behind glass at CES is now out and ready for demonstration here at Mobile World Congress this week. It doesn't have a name yet — the company is simply calling it a "quad-core prototype" — but it's an early look at what it expects to launch across North America, Europe, and China sometime around Q4 of this year, part of a global expansion in mobile beyond its traditional Japanese roots.
The hardware felt somewhat loosely put together, but it's hard to fault the device for that — it's still the better part of a year away from production, and Fujitsu was clear to us that we're not looking at a final design. Though it has physical buttons below the display, we're told those are specific to the Japanese market; it's a nod to the fact that Japan is still transitioning away from numeric keypad devices. Other markets should probably expect to see some other design here (either capacitive hard buttons or Galaxy Nexus-style soft buttons). All will be waterproof enough to survive a drop in a puddle.
Though Tegra 3 feels extremely fast as always, Fujitsu's value proposition here seems to lie elsewhere: company representatives spent a lot of time talking to us about what the company calls its "human-centric engine," a set of features and sensors that help personalize the device to the user. Specific examples that were given to us (which we can expect to see on the production versions of this phone) include realtime speech slow-down, which takes advantage of the natural gaps that occur in a phone conversation, and the ability to intelligently change the pitch of incoming voice based on the user's age. Fujitsu notes that a human's ability to perceive sound changes as they age; with this phone, you'll just input your age and it'll modify the sound of callers automatically.
In addition to a biometric sensor and NFC support, the prototype has an unusual feature that we've never personally seen before: a dedicated proximity sensor on the back of the phone, which the company says will automatically turn off the display when you set the phone down in order to save battery. It seems that battery life is a big concern for Fujitsu here — owed in no small part to the processor and 4.6-inch LCD, we imagine — and it's taking steps to mitigate that. It's also looking into whether it'll be able to provide some sort of "fast charge" option that can completely charge the phone in under an hour. Wireless charging is off the table for this particular model, but the company says that it's got the technology under its belt, and there's no reason to think we won't see it in other devices.
Though the prototypes are rough at this point, we're excited to see a seasoned heavyweight like Fujitsu take its experience beyond the Japanese domestic market (it also notes that these devices will all be built in Japan, a rarity for handsets launched in Europe and North America). It's still negotiating with carriers and doesn't have any launch partners to announce at this point — regardless of continent — but they'd be wise to keep an eye on these guys going forward.