Snapdragon 410 brings a bit of a punch to the lower end of HTC's midrange, starts shipping in Sept. for ~$245

HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) announced the first 64-bit Android smartphone... sort of. If you count trade show demoes, other Taiwanese and Chinese OEMs already "announced" local smartphone models with 64-bit Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) system-on-a-chip (SoC) processors.  Like those phones, HTC's Desire 510 uses the quad-core Snapdragon 410 SoC, Qualcomm's first 64-bit SoC to be announced, to be sampled, and (most recently) to hit mass production.

I. The Spec

What makes HTC's announcement potentially a first is that it's the first Snapdragon 410-based design to be featured in official press releases and the first one with an announced global launch.

Desire 520

The spec of the device includes:
  • Software
  • Hardware
    • Display
      • 4.7-inch 
      • 854x480 pixels (FWVGA)
    • Dimensions
      • Size
        • 139.9 x 69.8 x 9.99mm (5.508 x 2.748 x 0.393 in.)
      • Weight
        • 158 grams (5.573 oz.)
    • Body
      • Material
        • Polycarbonate (colored plastic)
      • Colors
        • Terra White
        • Meridian Grey
    • SoC
      • Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 -- MSM8916
      • 28 nm LP process
      • CPU
      • GPU
        • Adreno 306 @ ??? MHz
    • Memory
      • 1 GB LPDDR2
    • Storage
      • 8GB NAND Flash (internal)
      • microSDXC (up to 128GB)
    • Cameras
      • Rear
        • 5 megapixel rear camera
      • Front
        • 0.3 megapixel (VGA)
    • Connectivity
      • Wireless
        • Cellular: "multimode LTE" (on-die)
        • WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n
        • Other: Bluetooth 4.0, NFC
        • Video: DLNA
        • Positioning: GPS/GLOSNASS/Beidou
      • microUSB 2.0
    • Battery
      • 2100 mAh (7.98 Whr)
      • Removeable/swappable
  • Accessories
    • DotView case
HTC Desire 520

The spec looks ample, although the memory (1 GB) and low resolution cameras may prove an annoyance.

II. Availability, MSRP, and the Question of Whether 64-Bit Matters

The most pressing questions are what the price is and when the phone will launch.  Unfortunately HTC answered neither question, although it did share some details about what regions will receive the phone, writing:

The HTC Desire 510 will be available in selected regions in Europe and Asia as well as through select carriers in the US. Check with your local HTC region for more information on availability.

In other words, we know where it will launch, but we don't know specifics on MSRP, carriers, and launch date.

HTC Peter Chou boasts:

Owning the latest and greatest technology shouldn’t be reserved for those with the highest budgets.  People today should expect their smartphones to double as mobile entertainment hubs. This means ensuring that they’re fully loaded with the latest movies, TV shows and albums, by taking advantage of the super-fast network speeds available. The HTC Desire 510 does this and more, making it the perfect mobile media device.

Indeed, if HTC can roll this device out quickly it looks to score a key mobile victory, as the first mid-range smartphone maker to ship 64-bit product.  Apple, Inc. (AAPL) released the first 64-bit smartphone last year, with the high-end iPhone 5S.  The iPhone 5S includes Apple's proprietary A7 SoC.  

If HTC cannot ship quickly, it risks having its thunder stolen: the Lenovo Group, Ltd. (HKG:0992) (model: A805e), Huawei Technology Comp., Ltd. (SHE:002502) (model: the G621), and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KRX:005930) (KRX:005935) (model: 6-inch Galaxy Mega 2) all have impending smartphones which have either leaked in near-finished form or been shown at trade shows/press events.  Many of these other OEMs are likely to announce their products officially at the IFA 2014 (Sept. 5-10th) mobile electronics trade show in Berlin, Germany.

But it sounds like we may find out even sooner.  PCWorld announced that HTC sources tell them the device will ship in September and will be priced at £149 (US$245).  According to Engadget, HTC has confirmed that in the U.S. the device will be available on Sprint Corp. (S) and its prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, plus AT&T, Inc.'s (T) Cricket Wireless prepaid brand.

Sprint sign
Sprint will become one of the U.S. carriers to carry the Desire 510. [Image Source: Lisa Poole/AP]

Price may be an issue.

While the HTC Desire 510 looks to stack up favorably versus the Moto G 4G (aka the Moto G2), Motorola is rumored to be preparing for a refresh and major price cut on that model.  Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Nokia Lumia 530 provides a similar, but slightly diminished spec which includes a smaller screen (4-in.) of identical resolution and a 32-bit, 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 200 quad-core (versus the Desire 510's identically clocked Snapdragon 410).  The GPU in the Snapdragon 410 is slightly better than the Snapdragon 200's and HTC's phone does pack twice the memory/internal storage.  But the Lumia 530 retails for around $115-135, roughly half what the Desire 510 costs.

The utility of 64-bit chips in these budget devices remains to be seen.  As AnandTech notes, Android KitKat 4.4.x is only capable of running AArch32 (the 32-bit compatibility mode on 64-bit Qualcomm chips).  AArch64 -- official 64-bit support in Android -- won't be added until the release of Android "L".  Android L is expected to be rolled out in November or December at the latest.
Android L will bring AARCH64 -- native support for 64-bit arm cores.

Aside from subtle differences in register count and other features that will like boost the Snapdragon 410's raw performance over its predecessor (even in 32-bit mode), the new chip also can be viewed as providing a degree of "future-proofing" to OEMs' lineups.

If it doesn't before then, you can expect HTC to release more specific details on price and availability at IFA 2014, as well.  It may simply be announcing its product a bit early to build up the hype.  HTC also recently teased at another 64-bit device, the Snapdragon 615-powered Desire 820.  The Desire 820 is expected to occupy the priciest spot in HTC's mid-range lineup, and due to leaked sampling roadmaps, it appears likely to ship at least a month or two after the Desire 510, given the chip onboard.

Sources: HTC [press release], AnandTech, PCWorld, Engadget

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