Marvell, £60 Android phones for 2010

Chip maker Marvell has a new bit of kit for Mobile World Congress it reckons could revolutionise smartphones and usher in the era of the $99 (£60) Android blower. Want to know what it does, and when? Read on and we’ll explain all.

We last heard from Marvell when it launched its new chipset for e-readers, aimed at bringing down prices and speeding up page refreshes in digital tomes like the Entourage Edge. Now it’s back with a new processor range for phones, the Pantheon 910 and 920, and a bold promise that they’ll bring the price of smartphones right down.

Currently, most new smartphones cost hundreds of pounds, with the price often subsidised by networks over the course of an 18 or 24 month contract. But Marvell reckons Pantheon powered phones will handle all the power requirements of a modern smartphone OS for far cheaper than ever before. In fact, Marvell’s vice president Weili Dai claims it “makes the vision of a mass market $99 smartphone very real.”

We spoke to Marvell’s head of mobile cellular business, Vivek Chhabra, who told us that though the company was agnostic towards smartphone platforms, and would welcome Windows Mobile phones running on its new tech, he saw Android and “open source” mobile operating systems really benefiting from it, since manufacturers don’t have to pay to use them, with phone peddlers able to bring handsets to market this year using it.

“We will be able to bring the smartphone for the right skills to the emerging market…within 2010,” he said.

Marvell predicts super cheap e-readers on the way

We wouldn’t necessarily expect the same performance from Marvell Pantheon 910 phones as that of a screaming Snapdragon powered blower like the Google Nexus One or or HTC HD2, but Chhabra said that they will still be able to support high definition video playback, 3D gaming and screens up to WVGA (800×480) in resolution, though capacitive screens at that size will naturally drive the price up.

Although Marvell has yet to announce what partners it’s working with, the company says “top tier” names are involved. We’re excited to see what they can come up with: if Marvell is true to its word and its roadmap, we’ll be seeing HTC Tattoo-like phones at rock bottom prices. And if the performance is up to scratch, that should have the likes of INQ very, very scared. Unless of course, INQ has a budget Android phone of its own planned.

For a large selection of Android mobile phones check out

Out 2010 | £TBC | Marvell

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