What's in YOUR Smartphone?

This is a discussion on What's in YOUR Smartphone? within the AT&T forums, part of the Android Phone Carriers category; With the sales of smartphones skyrocketing, they're becoming what most people are buying when it's time to upgrade. So are you one of the educated ...

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Thread: What's in YOUR Smartphone?

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Dorian's Avatar
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    What's in YOUR Smartphone?

    With the sales of smartphones skyrocketing, they're becoming what most people are buying when it's time to upgrade. So are you one of the educated geeks, or one that doesn't really live for specs but more so how conveniently can it text or place a phone call? I hope to edumakate somebody here, so let me see if I can explain to you just what's in your phone. :cool:

    The first thing everyone should know is that there are basically four major juggernauts that fab mobile CPU's, just like Intel and AMD fab for notebooks/desktops. Those are:

    RED = Platforms that are depreciated and no longer being used en masse.
    GREEN = Platforms that are currently shipping in devices that you can purchase today.
    BLUE = New platforms for 2011.

    • Texas Instruments - Maker of the TI OMAP series SoC (System on Chip)
    • Samsung - Maker of ARM11, Hummingbird, and Orion SoC's
    • Qualcomm - Maker of ARM11, Snapdragon, and Snapdragon MP SoC's
    • NVIDIA - Maker of ARM11 (Tegra1) and ARM7 (Tegra2) SoC's


    I'm going to start with Qualcomm, as they have a very broad market share. Almost every single major OEM has at least one phone based on a Qualcomm platform, and here they are explained:

    MSM7200/7600 - Common in the older midrange to current basic handsets. They consist of a 528MHz ARM11 core and an Adreno 130 GPU manufactured on a 90-65NM process. These aren't capable of OpenGL ES 2.0, and so can't play most 3D games. CPU performance is also bottlenecked by no on-die L2 cache. These aren't recommended because they have trouble keeping up with the current Android OS development scale. 2.1 was the last service update most of those will ever see from their OEMs, as 2.2 doesn't add much (if any) noticeable performance increase.
    • These are featured in handsets such as the HTC G1, Magic, Droid Eris, Hero, and more.
    • From Motorola such as the Cliq, Cliq XT, Dext, Devour, i1, and Backflip.
    • From Samsung such as the Galaxy i7500.
    • And many, many more from many other OEM's. This was previously the most popular smartphone platform by miles.

    MSM7227, MSM7225 - The 7225 is a second generation 528MHz ARM11 core, and the 7227 is a 600MHz ARM11 core. The 7225 and 7227 are paired with the same GPU as the first generation Snapdragon cores, the Adreno 200. The Adreno 200 is fully OpenGL ES compliant including 2.0, but it's performance when paired with any CPU of this family won't ensure full 3D gaming abilities. All of these cores also come with 32KB of on-die cache, which greatly improves performance and efficiency over the previous generation MSM7200 based cores.
    • You can find these cores in the HTC Wildfire, Tattoo, Aria, the Palm Pixi, and many more.

    Snapdragon* - These are most commonly found on high-end smartphones. They feature vastly improved performance over the previous MSM7200 cores, and come with either an Adreno 200 or 205 for the first and second generation, respectively. All of the Snapdragon cores are ARM7, and support CPU extensions like NEON and 128-bit SIMD instructions. CPU frequencies are usually either 800MHz for the MSM7230 in the G2, and 1GHz for most all other Snapdragon based devices. Major OEM's for the Snapdragon platform are:
    • HTC
    • Dell
    • LG
    • Samsung
    • Acer
    • HP
    • Fujitsu
    • Toshiba
    • Sony Ericsson
    • ... and many more.
    • This is the most popular high-end smartphone platform currently.

    *The Snapdragon cores pull higher Linpack scores than any other platform because the Scorpion CPU cores that make up the Snapdragon's, feature 128-bit SIMD extensions, while most all other CPU's only feature 64-bit SIMD extension support.

    Snapdragon MP - This is Qualcomm's new mobile platform for 2011. Not a lot of information is known about these new platforms aside from a few basic points. There have been two officially announced platforms: The MSM8260 and the MSM8660. The "2" denotes GSM/UMTS while the "6" denotes CDMA/EV-DO connectivity, as has been the case for all the Snapdragon based SoC's. Initially these are both shipping at 1.2GHz, with a Adreno 220 GPU on-board. The Adreno 220 GPU is slated to bring up to a 5x performance increase, compared to the previous Adreno 205. A major design plus for the new Snapdragon Scorpion CPU cores are intelligent power gating and clock gating on both cores, which should bring significant power savings compared to other or previous platforms. With the intelligent power gating the second core can be completely powered down.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Next up is Texas Instruments. They also have a very broad market saturation. They have SoC's in a lot of big-hit high-end phones from several OEM's.

    The TI OMAP CPU lineage is much less complicated than that of Qualcomm. The models are clearly spaced and positioned, and offer some of the best performance per dollar you can buy. The major buyer of TI OMAP cores is Motorola, offering them throughout their entire current smartphone lineup.

    OMAP 34xx - These cores are all ARM7 and range from 600MHz to 800MHz. They all feature the PowerVR SGX530 GPU, which is fully OpenGL ES compliant including 2.0. They can handle 3D games and graphics competently and most support up to DVD quality video recording.
    • These can be found in the Motorola Droid, Milestone, Flipside, Flipout, Palm Pre, Samsung i8910, and Nokia N900.

    OMAP 36xx - These are the second generation silicon, based on the 34xx series. They are die-shrunk, with their frequencies raised, usually to 800MHz or 1GHz. The OMAP 3610 is the only SoC that doesn't feature a dedicated GPU, so watch out for that one when purchasing!
    • These can be found in the Droid X, Droid 2, Bravo, the Palm Pre 2, and several more.

    OMAP 4430/4440 - This is TI's new mobile platform for 2011. Both the 4430/40 are dual-core Cortex A9 designs, with the 4430 being a 1GHz part, and the 4440 being a 1.5GHz part. This platform will ship with the PowerVR SGX540 GPU, which has been proven as a VERY solid and powerful GPU by Samsung's Hummingbird line. Both models are 1080p compatible with playback, with the 4440 being able to record 1080p stereoscopic 3D h.264 while the 4430 can only handle 720p stereoscopic 3D recording. Both platforms support dual cameras, with static megapixel ratings at 20MP.

    Rumored to be the base of Palm's new WebOS tablet.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Next up is the Samsung SoC's. Samsung doesn't have as broad a market penetration as TI or Qualcomm, but they offer some great platforms. Samsung has been making SoC's for quite a while, with most of the older iterations of their platforms powering iPAQ's and phones going years back. Most of Samsung's SoC's as of lately are used with their own branded Samsung/Anycall phones.

    S3C6410 - This is a 600MHz to 800MHz ARM11 core with a custom in-house GPU. It doesn't support the modern OpenGL extensions and isn't compatable with ES 2.0 frameworks. This is a platform I'd steer clear of, as it's performance is extremely lackluster, comparatively.
    • You can find these in the Samsung GT-i5700, Omnia, Omnia II, Moment, Transform, Intercept, and many more from several other OEM's.

    Hummingbird (S5PC1xx) - This is a 1GHz ARM7 Cortex A8 core with a PowerVR SGX540 GPU. These are most known as the power behind the Galaxy S series of phones, and the new Nexus S from Google. They have full OpenGL compliance v1.1 and 2.0, and are capable of competently playing any 3D game currently on the Android Market.

    Orion - This is Samsung's new mobile platform for 2011. It features a dual-core Cortex A9 design, with a base frequency of 1GHz with 1MB of L2 cache to optimize multitasking abilities. This platform will ship with the Mali 400 GPU, which is capable of 30M tri/s with a maximum of 1.1 giga-pixel/s texture fill rate. Mali is also fully OpenGL ES compliant, including ES 1.1 and ES 2.0 as well as OpenVG for 2D rendering. Though the one thing that sets this platform apart from the others is the fact that it's not just limited to certain types of flash storage. OEM's can choose NAND flash, moviNAND, SSD or HDD providing both SATA, and eMMC interfaces. Another major point that sets this platform apart is the fact that it supports DDR3 memory.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NVIDIA Tegra 2 - This is Nvidia's new mobile platform for 2011. Some of you may have the Zune HD, that features the original Tegra 1, which was an ARM11 CPU core with a custom NVIDIA GPU only found on Tegra chipsets. It enabled the Zune HD to have 720p output over HDMI, which was quite a powerful feature at the time. With Tegra 2 NVIDIA is aiming high... really high. Tegra 2 features a dual-core 1GHz Cortex A9 CPU with a revised custom NVIDIA GPU. Some have stated that the Tegra 2's GPU is simply a carry over from Tegra 1 that's been die shrunk and enhanced, because it's performance is lacking compared to the SGX540 found in the Hummingbird, and simply doesn't match up to it's uber powerful CPU. Now some information on Tegra 2:

    • Dual-Core 1GHz Cortex A9 CPU with Out-of Order execution
    • Custom NVIDIA GPU that enables 1080p MP4/H.264 video decoding and output over HDMI
    • Support for LPDDR2 (Low-Power DDR2)
    • Extremely power efficient with media encoding/decoding tasks (playing/recording MP3/MP4/H.264)
    • Rivals Atom in instructions-per-clock, with Atom supporting HT, and Tegra 2 supporting Out of Order execution
    • When fab processes die shrink the A9 cores in late 2011/2012, speeds in excess of 2GHz are on the table
    • Also, the Tegra 2's A9 CPU supports up to 8MB (:eek of L2 cache, so expect crazy floating point numbers.
    • Intelligent power gating on CPU core #0. This allows for marginal power savings when the full frequency isn't needed.
    • *I will update this section as new information becomes available on the Tegra 2 handsets*


    Currently found in the Motorola Atrix 4G, Droid Bionic, and the LG Optimus 2X.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Now with most all phones you have 3 RAM/ROM steps that correspond with the different market targets.

    Basic
    256MB of RAM and 384MB-512MB of ROM
    Mainstream
    512 MB of RAM and 512MB-1GB of ROM.
    High-End
    512MB-1GB of RAM and 512MB-2GB of ROM.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The major display technologies are currently S-LCD (super-LCD), IPS LCD, AMOLED, and S-AMOLED. No matter how much of a stickler you are for display quality, odds are you can find a smartphone that more than suits your needs. The IPS LCD panels in the iPhone 4 and the S-AMOLED panels used in the Samsung Galaxy S series and the Nexus S offer some of the best viewing experiences currently available on ANY phone.

    With the introduction of Samsung's Infuse 4G and SCH-i520, S-AMOLED is being dropped in favor of S-AMOLED+. S-AMOLED+ is a regular RGB OLED setup that eliminates the "checkerboarding" effect of the Pentile Matrix S-AMOLED on the Galaxy S phones. It also introduces 50% more subpixels. Without a doubt, this will be the hot display tech of 2011.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If you have a smartphone and are unsure about what's inside or are planning on purchasing a smartphone, post here and I or another knowledgeable member here will point you on the right path, and give you some insight as to what you can expect out of each platform.

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  3. #2
    WERA689
    Guest WERA689's Avatar
    Wow! Nice work, Dorian! Thanks for taking the time to do that. :cool:

  4. #3
    Super Moderator Dorian's Avatar
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    No problemo I really think more people need to pay attention to what powers their phone, because it's just as important to get the right features on a modern smartphone as it is on notebook/desktop PC's.

  5. #4
    Junior Member Smurf's Avatar
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    Hi Dorian,
    I'm buying my first android phone and I need to choose between the Huawei U8800 IDEOS X5 and the Motorola MB525 DEFY.

    I was leaning towards getting the Motorola until I read your post. It's very informative (Thanks so much!), but since the phones have different makes of CPU's I'm not sure how to compare them. Do you think you could please help me?

    The Motorola has a 32 bit Texas Instruments OMAP 3610 CPU and the Huawei has a 32 bit Qualcomm MSM7230 CPU. How do they compare? And in what way will the OMAP 3610 not having a GPU affect the phone?

    Also is the amount of ROM important? I'm not sure what it would be used for. And do you think these phones would be able to run Gingerbread?

    Here is a link to a comparison of the two phones: PDAcomparer | PDAdb.net - Comprehensive Database of Smartphone, PDA, PDA Phone, PNA, netbook & Mobile Device Specifications

    I'm worried that having MOTOBLUR might make the Motorola slow. Do you think it will be an issue?

    Thanks so much for your help

  6. #5
    Super Moderator Dorian's Avatar
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    Actually, I need to update that information in a few areas... but I'm glad it helped.

    My knee jerk response here is to go for the Huawei. It has a superior chipset and CPU, not to mention Android 2.2 with Flash support. BUT... I personally have never owned a Huawei device, so I can't attest to the hardware build quality. But if enterprise equipment is anything of an indication of quality, it should be a pretty awesome phone. They make some awesome professional equipment. The Huawei features the MSM7230 which is an 800MHz core, but at 800MHz its as fast as its 1GHz predecessor, the MSM8250. Plus MSM7230 features the Adreno 205 GPU which is quite the capable GPU. For the end user, the MSM7230 is a solid and smooth platform that gets really good battery life and awesome performance.

    Motorola has really confused a lot if people with the Defy/Bravo. Moto's press release names the platform as OMAP3610... just one problem... the Defy/Bravo has a GPU, so by definition its not a 3610. Personally, I think its a 3630. Other than that, build quality is typical Moto... well built. The issue I have with Moto is their bootloader policy. Moto locks down the bootloader with encryption, and it makes loading custom software very difficult for those that don't know ADB. On top if that, it DOES have Blur, and love it or hate, it's there to stay unless you flash completely custom software. Blur goes all the way to the kernel level, so if you try to remove parts of it after rooting, you'll be left with a paperweight till you can re-flash the OEM software back to it. Also, Moto doesn't employ any kind of smooth inertial scrolling in their Android builds. To me the experience is choppy. Window animations aren't smooth, scrolling in the browser can be smooth but mostly isn't, especially for a decent full site. Its just the details that Moto overlooks like smooth scrolling that make the experience not as good as other OEM's.

    Oh, and your question about ROM... ROM is where all your installed programs reside. Having an ample amount of ROM, like the 3GB on the Huawei, will give you much much more room to install whatever software and apps you need. RAM is volitile memory... when you tap an app to launch it, it's pulled from ROM and into RAM to run it. So having enough RAM is also important, and both the Moto and the Huawei have plenty with 512MB.

    Sent from Spacial Grid 325, Terra 001

    Need Assistance? Contact me at dorian@android.net

  7. #6
    Junior Member Korn72's Avatar
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    Hi, I own a SAMSUNG SPICA ( yeah I read about the procesor :P ) planning upgrade

    Hi,

    I own a Samsung i5700 ( SPICA ) I know .. I read about the processor .. I just though i was getting a faster processor for the money I am spending and jumped at it wen it was out at that time .. Anyways .. I am planning to upgrade to a midrange phone now .. and yeah .. I was looking at Defy as I loved its build quality and the interface was pretty smooth. Even the screen quality was awesome. Also, I was thinking about Samsung Galaxy ACE. Now these are both 800 Mhz processors and the one i own is the same too. I am sure there is a lotta difference in performance though .. Well, I upgraded my Spica to 2.1 and it doesnt like it one bit .. Its become quite lazy and its quite similar to what happened to my iphone 2g when i upgraded it to the newer firmware ( Yeah I was a big fan of iphone until Android hit the market ) .. So i dont want to get a high end phone as the market trends are changing like crazy and I dont feel like investing a lot and see the new dual cores beat the crap out of my phone .. Plus I dont want to get the dual core right now as 1. its just out and 2. Its way too costly for my humble pocket.

    So, here's what I am looking at .. a mid range phone which can handle Gingerbread with ease .. ( not like my spica when i put 2.1 on it ) has the capability to handle decent 3d games .. smooth interface. Atleast 512 RAM. Sorry to get away from the flow for just a moment .. I bought an 'LG optimus one' for my cousin and its quite a decent phone I must say for the price I got it for. So, yeah .. i want my phone to definitely kick this phone's ass :P as I'd be spending considerable amount over this one ..

    I zeroed in on : SAMSUNG GALAXY ACE & MOTOROLA DEFY

    Features I am looking for:

    A big screen ( atleast 3.5 inches or more )
    Decent looks but with awesome performance for its price
    A wifi hotspot enabled phone.
    Awesome audio quality ( in earphones ofcourse .. dont care much about the speaker .. but it should be audible when it rings )
    Obviously all the connectivity options - wifi-bluetooth-gps-3g etc ..
    Decent battery back up ( atleast a day .. I am not always on the phone say about 1 to 2 hrs Max in a day )

    Please suggest any other phones which you can .. in and around that range. Please consider that I am in India and that we dont have any carrier plans here .. so I have to pay in full for any of these phones .. So, I wouldnt care if I get a better phone spending a bit more money ..

    I am quite confused this time even though I am always the point of contact for someone buying a phone in my group ..

    Looking forward to your response and suggestions ..

    @ admins: I am not sure if this is the right forum for this question .. but please reply if you can else direct me to where I can post this query ..

    Cheers !!

    KoRn

    P.S: I cant thank you enough for educating me on the strengths and weaknesses of the processors .. I always wondered what processor is better than the other and with what amount of RAM. I'd suggest you keep a 3D game as a benchmark say for instance NFS Shift which doesnt run on a lot of devices and is quite smooth on Galaxy S i9000 .. Just a thought !

  8. #7
    Super Moderator Dorian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Korn72 View Post
    Hi,

    I own a Samsung i5700 ( SPICA ) I know .. I read about the processor .. I just though i was getting a faster processor for the money I am spending and jumped at it wen it was out at that time .. Anyways .. I am planning to upgrade to a midrange phone now .. and yeah .. I was looking at Defy as I loved its build quality and the interface was pretty smooth. Even the screen quality was awesome. Also, I was thinking about Samsung Galaxy ACE. Now these are both 800 Mhz processors and the one i own is the same too. I am sure there is a lotta difference in performance though .. Well, I upgraded my Spica to 2.1 and it doesnt like it one bit .. Its become quite lazy and its quite similar to what happened to my iphone 2g when i upgraded it to the newer firmware ( Yeah I was a big fan of iphone until Android hit the market ) .. So i dont want to get a high end phone as the market trends are changing like crazy and I dont feel like investing a lot and see the new dual cores beat the crap out of my phone .. Plus I dont want to get the dual core right now as 1. its just out and 2. Its way too costly for my humble pocket.
    Yea, the Spica is a tad long in the tooth. It's running the S3C6410. ARM11 isn't capable of running anything newer with any kind of speed, compared to modern Cortex A8/A9 processors. Plus, since the GPU Samsung used with the S3C6410 isn't fully OpenGL compliant, gaming is off the table.

    Quote Originally Posted by Korn72 View Post
    So, here's what I am looking at .. a mid range phone which can handle Gingerbread with ease .. ( not like my spica when i put 2.1 on it ) has the capability to handle decent 3d games .. smooth interface. Atleast 512 RAM. Sorry to get away from the flow for just a moment .. I bought an 'LG optimus one' for my cousin and its quite a decent phone I must say for the price I got it for. So, yeah .. i want my phone to definitely kick this phone's ass :P as I'd be spending considerable amount over this one ..

    I zeroed in on : SAMSUNG GALAXY ACE & MOTOROLA DEFY
    Here you have two completely different handsets in almost every way. The Galaxy Ace is running on a Qualcomm MSM7227 which is an ARM11 CPU with an Adreno 200 GPU. With what's out in the market right now, that's woefully outdated. Now, the Motorola Defy is a lot more "futureproofed". The Defy has a Cortex A8 CPU that's underclocked from 1GHz to 800MHz for battery savings. It also has a PowerVR SGX530 GPU, which is quite a bit more capable than the Adreno 200. If you'd be willing to consider a member of the Galaxy S family, you'd get a 1GHz Cortex A8 CPU with a GPU that will mop the floor with both the Adreno 200 and SGX530.

    Now about the smooth interface... Motorola isn't known for a smooth UI. They don't integrate rubber-band like bouncing into the menus, and their inertial scrolling isn't natural feeling. For the smoothest UI I've ever worked with, I'd have to, again, recommend the Galaxy S series. They're smooth as glass with natural gravity inertial scrolling and a UI so smooth it makes even iOS look bad.

    Quote Originally Posted by Korn72 View Post
    A big screen ( atleast 3.5 inches or more )
    Decent looks but with awesome performance for its price
    A wifi hotspot enabled phone.
    Awesome audio quality ( in earphones ofcourse .. dont care much about the speaker .. but it should be audible when it rings )
    Obviously all the connectivity options - wifi-bluetooth-gps-3g etc ..
    Decent battery back up ( atleast a day .. I am not always on the phone say about 1 to 2 hrs Max in a day )
    For the absolute best Cost:Performance ratio I can think of, it would be the HTC Inspire (AKA the Desire HD). It can be had for about $449 off contract if you look around online. It's an AWESOME phone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Korn72 View Post
    P.S: I cant thank you enough for educating me on the strengths and weaknesses of the processors .. I always wondered what processor is better than the other and with what amount of RAM. I'd suggest you keep a 3D game as a benchmark say for instance NFS Shift which doesnt run on a lot of devices and is quite smooth on Galaxy S i9000 .. Just a thought !
    No problem! A NFS Benchmark with FPS numbers would be an interesting addition.

    Need Assistance? Contact me at dorian@android.net

  9. #8
    Junior Member Korn72's Avatar
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    Hi Dorian,

    Alright I am going to discuss a lot of 'moneys' here ! :P So, please be patient coz at the end of the day the stuff has to be worth the buck spent !

    Thank you for your quick response. Well, like i mentioned earlier, the SAMSUNG GALAXY S series is out of my budget. Yes it retails in India for about 560$. Also the HTC Inspire / Desire HD is for about 585$. ( about 25000 to 27000 Indian Rupees )

    When I say midrange .. I am talking about phones around 340$ ( Samsung Galaxy ACE ) - 380$ ( Motorola Defy ) ( About 15K Indian Rupees - 18K INR )

    So, in terms of Indian Currency, you'd see a difference of about 10K in these segments. Also, I hear that Galaxy S II is going to launch here for about 630 - 675$ ( yep U.S $ )

    Now bak in India we refer to phones ranging from 300 - 400$ as midrange and 600$ + phones as Premium.

    Now, I was looking at Defy which is a fair deal if you say it uses the same processor as the Galaxy S except for the GPU which I am sure is awesome given the price ..

    I liked the way you said that Defy is quite future proof compared to the ACE


    Also, the used phone market is quite decent over here and I know a dealer who would sell a Desire HD to me for say about 400 - 450 USD. But again .. its a used phone and you know the risks involved.

    So, what do you say ?? :D

    Thank you so much for patiently reading through my post !

    Cheers !!

    KoRn!

  10. #9
    Super Moderator Dorian's Avatar
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    At this point, could you tell me which carrier it'll be operating on? Some of the phones I'm recommending aren't pentaband 3G phones, and won't work with 3G in all countries... I believe India is on the 2100MHz band for 3G, so in that case you'd be looking at any European phone, as the Inspire won't pick up 3G there (though the Desire HD variant will).

    Any T-Mobile phone from the US, or any mobile from Europe will work on UMTS 2100MHz.

    So with that in mind, the Defy probably is the best in your stated price range. It's got a good bit of ROM (2GB) and it's fully capable of running Gingerbread and beyond, with no issues. Plus the Defy is a really rugged phone. It should last you a good long while. Also, the Defy has a screen resolution of 854x480, whereas the Galaxy ACE has 480x320. Overall the Defy is just a premium feeling device, while the Galaxy Ace isn't.

    Need Assistance? Contact me at dorian@android.net

  11. #10
    Junior Member Korn72's Avatar
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    hey Dorian,

    thanks so much for telling me what I wanted to hear :d .. well the only issue with that device now is that its running 2 versions behind the market. the one sold here still comes with a 2.1. thats my only concern after, I learnt it runs the same processor as the galaxy S except for the GPU & is underclocked .. :D which only means I can tweak it a tad bit more than I thought I could ..

    Thanks again for your response ... FYI I am also looking at a used Desire HD with atleast 8-10 months of warranty left so that I have peace of mind ..

    lets see how that goes ..

    Thanks again !!

    Cheers!

    KoRn!

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