Quad-core mobile processors: Game changers or more marketing lingo?

Sections: Communications, Computers, Features, Mobile Computers, Smartphones

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In the mobile phone industry, manufacturers of Android phones tend to get caught up on select features. When Android started to support Flash in web browsers, companies made sure to use Flash in marketing materials as a way to differentiate its products from the iPhone and iPad. Now that Flash on mobile is dead, these companies are going to have to grasp at another feature. At the same time, we’re always hearing about dual-core processors and how many gigahertz any given Android device can put out. Sure a dual-core 1.5Ghz processor sounds powerful, but Android users know that lag can persist despite benchmarks. That’s why I’m approaching the emergence of quad-core processors with skepticism.

A little while ago, Asus revealed the Eee Pad Transformer Prime as the first quad-core Honeycomb tablet. At the time, this announcement almost seemed as if it were ahead of its time. But now, HTC and Lenovo have revealed their intentions to release quad-core tablets too. HTC is also rumored to to release a 1.5Ghz quad-core smartphone dubbed the HTC Edge in 2012. I get the feeling we are going to start hearing about more quad-core devices in the coming weeks. I also expect CES 2012 to be filled with quad-core mobile devices.

Theoretically, quad-core processors should provide double the speed of any Android device currently available. The problem is that dual-core processors were supposed to do the same thing. While app launching is sometimes faster and smoother on devices with dual-core processors, I’ve witnessed the opposite on more than one occasion. No matter how many cores your device may have, there is still a problem with lag on just about every Android device.

It’s no doubt quad-core processors will be one of the biggest bullet points in the marketing materials for these upcoming devices. We’re going to be led to believe quad-core processors will usher in the fastest mobile devices we’ve ever seen. Will this be true, or will Android continue to hinder the true power of new processing technology? We’re going to have to wait for Lenovo’s quad-core tablet later this year to start drawing some solid conclusions.

I will say this. None of the devices with quad-core processors should lag. If they do, it’s not worth jumping on the quad-core bandwagon. It doesn’t matter how awesome the specs may be. If the experience does not match the hardware, it’s not worth spending the extra cash as early adopters.

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