Look at all the hardware you get with Google’s Nexus 7 for only $200: an HD display, a gigabyte of RAM, 8GB of flash, and a quad-core Tegra 3. Think about what you’re getting for your money, and then ask yourself why comparable smartphones cost so very much more. Sure, miniaturization adds to manufacturing expense, and a smaller screen means the need for higher pixel density components, but why isn’t there something like the Nexus 7, but in maybe a 4.7-inch form factor, that sells for $300 or less, no contract, no subsidy? The day we see such a phone may be on its way, as NVIDIA is reportedly working to see its Tegra 3-based Kai platform come to smartphones later this year.
The Kai reference platform, announced by NVIDIA several months ago, gives manufacturers a blueprint for taking full advantage of the company’s Tegra 3 chips to design very low-cost hardware. The target was always a quad-core tablet for $200 or less, which has clearly been achieved. Now NVIDIA is looking to deliver those same savings to the smartphone market.
Supposedly, manufacturers in China will be producing the first Kai-based smartphone hardware later this year. We haven’t heard of any specific companies involved, nor if these models will be intended for domestic use only or if we’ll see them sold internationally. However things unwind, you can bet we’ll be keeping a close watch on just what hardware becomes available at which price points.