While Mobile World Congress may be a week away from taking place in Barcelona, the smartphone arena is so heated up that manufacturers are launch news from the show – week ahead of the show.

NVIDIA is expected to have a very big show, with quad-core Tegra 3 SOC powering high-end smartphones and tablets from standard and new customers such as Acer, ASUS, Fujitsu, HTC, Huawei, Lenovo, LG, Toshiba and many others. But probably the most important announcement as far as the show goes is NVIDIA’s entrance into the highly competitive mainstream smartphone market.

Having pushed the quad-core hardware out the door, NVIDIA is now obviously focusing on selling the Tegra 2 as the mainstream phone and for breaching that market, they picked up a very interesting partner. In 2011, Chinese ZTE grow into world’s 10th smartphone maker with 12 million units sold. In 2010 the company shipped almost four times less, at 3.5 million (Source: TomiAhonen Almanac 2012).

Yes, this is Mainstream 2012: ZTE Mimosa X powered by NVIDIA Tegra and Icera hardware: 4.3", dual-core, HSPA+, 1080p video conferencing...
Yes, this is 2012 mainstream phone: ZTE Mimosa X powered by NVIDIA Tegra and Icera hardware: 4.3", dual-core, HSPA+, 1080p video conferencing…

The selected hardware represents the first design win for NVIDIA as a whole: Tegra 2 SOC is being paired with Icera 450 HSPA+ baseband chip. The second chip is the result of NVIDIA’s acquisition of Icera in mid-2011 and during this year we expect to see the first wholly integrated parts in single silicon.

ZTE Mimosa X is also quite an impressive "mainstream smartphone". For a mainstream price, ZTE combined Tegra and Icera hardware with a 4.3" qHD screen (960×540, 540p 16:9 resolution), 512MB of RAM and 4GB storage (expandable to 32GB via microSD cards). All of this hardware is powering the Google Android 4.0 operating system.

There are also two video cameras: typical 5Megapixel at the back, but the very same CMOS sensor is occupying the front of the phone. That’s right, ZTE and NVIDIA are bringing world’s first 1080p, full HD resolution video conferencing. We’ve seen 720p i.e. HD Ready resolutions being used for video conferencing, but 1080p is a first. Ability to drive multiple 1080p streams in a smartphone package is something we’ve only seen on a Tegra 2 powered prototype netbook in Santa Clara offices. Additionally, by going with a single digital camera, ZTE removed one more part that needs to be qualified.

The press release states that the phone should arrive on the market in the second quarter of this year. One thing is quite certain though – if you thought you have a high-end smartphone with a dual-core processor and a 4.3" screen, think again. ZTE believes that is mainstream now.