Earlier this week, Nvidia announced a major milestone in its mobile development history: its first chip to combine both the applications processor and LTE modem on the same silicon. The Tegra 4i, as it is called, is the green team's counter to Qualcomm's dominance in the mobile space — by having the power efficiency of integrated LTE, Nvidia now stands a chance to figure in the flagship 4G devices gracing advanced markets like the US. But the company's ambitions, as is usually the case, go much further than that. Nvidia wants to build "mainstream superphones," devices with today's highest specs, priced at tomorrow's mid-range prices.
In order to convince device makers of the viability of its strategy, Nvidia is introducing the Phoenix development platform. This 5-inch handset with a 1080p display and a lofty 13-megapixel camera will be doing the rounds at manufacturers' headquarters, showing off the power of Tegra 4i (which Nvidia assures us is only marginally lesser than the senior Tegra 4). Physically, it's exactly the sort of frugal, plastic affair you'd expect from a phone intended primarily to demonstrate the strength of its innards, but it is slim and didn't get hot to the touch while I was testing it using graphically intensive games. Nvidia also says that the eventual retail units from partners will be even thinner still.
As to the actual performance, the Phoenix was at an unfortunately early stage of its development, with an obvious lack of optimization that manifested itself in some stuttery frame rates in the pair of games I got to play. Even the Android interface was nowhere near the smoothness you could get from a generic Tegra 3 device, leading to the conclusion that no hard conclusions can yet be drawn. Still, the 4i will get to partake in the same Tegra 4 graphical enhancements as its elder sibling, so to get a glimpse of how that'll look when it hits retail later this year, check out the video below.