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Nvidia Tegra 4i to supercharge mid-range mobiles

Nvidia's latest Tegra 4i processor will supposedly bring the blistering power of current super phones to the mid-range end of the market.

Nvidia's plucky new Tegra 4i processor will soon be powering the next generation of mid-range smart phones. Its increased power and small size means it's apparently able to deliver performance easily matching today's super-phones while keeping both size and costs down.

The 4i might have its sights set on the lower end of the phone spectrum, but there's nothing basic about its supposed performance. It's a quad-core chip that Nvidia promises can deliver clock speeds up to 2.3GHz and will support up to 2GB of RAM.

Those are some seriously impressive specs, even by current top-end standards. By comparison, Samsung's Galaxy Note 2 packs a 1.6GHz processor with 2GB of RAM, which gave absolutely blistering results in my tests. Nvidia's specs will see even lower-end phones giving the Note 2 a serious run for its money, on paper at least.

That sort of power typically sucks juice like the CNET staff at an open bar. But Nvidia reckons its fifth lower-power core, used for less intense tasks, will give "exceptionally long battery life". I'll believe that when I see it.

Nvidia is also excited about the processor's skill with gaming and photography. It packs 60 GPU cores to apparently give it "console-quality gaming" on 1080p screens, while the camera will be able to make use of "always-on HDR". Without seeing any results, it's important to take these claims with a bucket of salt.

The 4i is the little brother to the recently announced Tegra 4 chip, both of which are likely to be found in the next raft of phones from the likes of HTC, Huawei and Google's Nexus devices, along with Windows RT tablets such as the Microsoft Surface.

The 4i uses less RAM and has less graphics grunt than its bigger brother, and its resolution tops out at 1080p, rather than the 4K ultra high-definition of the Tegra 4.

There's no word yet on exactly what phones or tablets we're likely to see either of the Tegra 4 chips in. We'll have to wait and see whether the 4i can really produce such power and, crucially, if it comes with a reasonable price tag attached.

In the meantime, let me know your thoughts on Nvidia's new chips and whether you're excited for affordable yet supercharged phones in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.