For some time now, we've been hearing that Nvidia were ready to enter the smartphone game through affordable handsets and their Tegra 4i chip. For those wondering what sets the Tegra 4i apart from the pure Tegra 4, it's that the 4i is a Cortex-A9 based 28nm CPU and isn't especially fast when compared with the Tegra 4. Having said that, this is Nvidia's chip aimed to bring a compromise between performance and affordability, pushing the pricing of devices down as far as they can, without compromising too much on specs.
This device that AnandTech have gotten their hands on is ominously branded with a simple "brand" logo at the top of the handset. Presumably, this will be replaced with whatever carrier or brand picks up the reference design. Nvidia are saying that this device will be launching sometime in Q4 2013 somewhere in the region of $300 – $400 unlocked. While that pricing is nothing too spectacular, it's important to remember that Nvidia will still want to make a profit on these devices, something that Google aren't too concerned with.
Specs wise, this isn't going to turn heads but, the 4.8-inch 720p Display, Tegra 4i, 1GB of RAM (albeit just LPDDR2) and 13MP rear-facing camera all add up to a fairly reasonable device. Of course, this is the market that Nvidia are chasing, reasonably price smartphones that offer enough power for most people, while still pushing their graphical prowess.
There's no telling on whether or not this – or other devices with the 4i – will make it to the States but, if the graphics card giant is planning on selling the devices unlocked then there's very little stopping them. Exposure with the help of the carriers would be helpful but, they're notoriously a fickle bunch and more so than ever before, breaking into the American smartphone business is a tough game. These sort of devices could well be the "in" that Nvidia have been needing for a long time, they can't beat out Qualcomm and Samsung don't want to use their chips so, kudos to Nvidia for going their own route.
The question is, can Nvidia grab a piece of the pie before Intel can?