ARM's big.LITTLE processors and 1080p screens await smartphone buyers in 2013

More operators are also expected to launch Voice-over-LTE services

By , IDG News Service |  Unified Communications

To save power each core can also be turned off when not in use.

The silicon is ready and ARM has tested chips running Android on multiple small and large cores, but it won't be more specific about when the first devices will arrive beyond saying next year.

The Cortex-A15 is already used on its own in products such as the Nexus 10 tablet.

LTE evolves

Even though three years have passed since the first commercial LTE network was launched, there is still a lot of room for improvements in the 4G market.

For example, several chipset vendors are developing products that combine application processors and LTE modems on a single die, which will result in better power efficiency, according to market research company Gartner.

Also, more operators will launch Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services, including AT&T and possibly Verizon Wireless in the U.S.

"We see that interest is growing a lot, and during next year several operators want to roll out the technology," said Kati Öhman, marketing manager for VoLTE at Ericsson.

U.S. operator MetroPCS as well as SK Telecom and LG Uplus in South Korea were the first to announce VoLTE services, and next year most of the demand will still be in North America and Asia. But European operators are also starting to look at using LTE for voice, according to Öhman.

The move to an all-IP network will make it easier for operators to add more voice-related services that can compete with today's Web-based offerings like Skype, Facebook and WhatsApp.

Such services include video calls, chat, presence and other multimedia services, according to Öhman. Users will also be able to configure incoming calls to ring on multiple devices and will be able to easily move sessions between a tablet and smartphone, she said.

But first operators will concentrate on getting just the voice part right. Also, installing HD Voice will be the default in VoLTE networks.

"You don't have do it, but there is really no reason not to do it. All VoLTE smartphones will have HD Voice from day one," said Öhman.

HD Voice offers improved sound quality thanks to AMR-WB (Adaptive Multi-Rate - Wideband), a speech-compression algorithm that doubles the range of voice frequencies transmitted.

The number of commercial LTE networks will continue to grow next year, with 209 networks expected to be up and running by the end of next year compared to an estimated 166 in 2012, according to industry organization GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association).

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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