ZTE to use Nvidia’s latest Tegra 4 chip in next-gen phones

Fresh off the launch of its Tegra 4i chips that integrate a modem and the tegra applciaiton processor, Nvidia (s nvda) is announcing a customer win for its standalone Tegra 4 applciaiton processor. ZTE, the Chinese handset and equipment maker, will produce a smartphone using the Tegra 4 processor and later, another smartphone using Nvidia’s i500 LTE modem.

The Tegra 4 handset is anticipated in the first half of 2013 according to Nvidia, and follows ZTE’s use of Nvidia’s Tegra 2 and 3 processors and Icera modem in earlier phones. It’s also the beginning of handsets designed to wow users with full HD playback and other features that require some serious processing power.

Nvidia isn’t the only company pushing more powerful application processors and flexible modems; ST-Ericsson announced a 3GHz monstrosity today as part of its NovaThor line of integrated chips. While ST-Ericsson is only showing off a prototype, the specs clearly show that it too has visions of faster phones that require a lot of processing power.

The NovaThor also supports a huge variety of mobile radio technologies that make it useful in many geographic areas. For those who want to get technical, the NovaThor L8580 supports downlink speeds up to 150Mbps as well as LTE-FDD, LTE-TDD, HSPA+, GSM and TD-SCDMA. It has up to 17 bands in the same device and a single radio for carrier aggregation, which is what enables it to tune into frequencies in many markets. Like Broadcom’s latest modem, ST-Ericsson and Nvidia are pushing the bar when it comes to building radios that can travel far and wide even if a country uses different frequencies for their LTE deployments.

In many ways the future of phones is the same has it had been, more performance in more places. Technology is awesome.

The story was corrected on Feb. 21 to reflect the fact that ZTE is launching two phones one with the Tegra 4 and one later, using the i500 modem.