Nvidia demos prototype 150Mbps smartphone at CTIA

Mobile Internet just not doing it for you? Want to download a movie in seconds? Nvidia has displayed a prototype LTE-Advanced smartphone at the CTIA trade show in Las Vegas, running downloads at 150 megabits per second, 10 times as fast as many home cable connections.

Of course, the Nvidia Phoenix with its Tegra 4i chipset will probably never actually download data that fast. Current LTE networks could run much faster in theory than they do in practice, but they're restricted by available spectrum, backhaul, and congestion. The LTE-Advanced "network" powering the Phoenix was a wired Anritsu testing box, not a real wireless network.

The real wizardry, Nvidia's Matt Wuebling said, is how the Tegra 4i's modem can be updated through software without any new hardware components. Upgrading a phone from LTE to LTE-Advanced probably won't be done over the air, as carriers would probably want to requalify such a major change. But Tegra 4i phones will get smaller modem updates over the air, for instance being able to aggregate spectrum for better connection quality or to improve connections at the edges of cell ranges.

Shield and StyleBook Make An Appearance

The first Tegra 4i phones won't appear until early 2014, so Nvidia brought along some more immediate demos.

I got some hands-on time with a final version of the company's $349 (£230) Shield handheld gaming device, currently in pre-orders for June delivery. Compared to the model we tried at CES, the device's D-Pad was no longer mushy and the joysticks were calibrated correctly. The triggers still had a lot of throw, but it was within the boundaries of debatable taste.

A new level of Dead Trigger 2 showcased Tegra 4's horsepower with extra smoke and reflection effects. Nvidia wanted to show me how the Shield could be used as a controller and remote screen for PC games, and I played a bit of Borderlands 2 on a locally networked PC with no lag.

But Shield's problem isn't whether or not it works. I'm pretty sure it'll work. It's whether Android has a powerful enough list of titles to draw people over from handheld gaming systems and whether Shield itself will have enough advantage over Android superphones to make people spend another load of cash. Shield's problem is existential. It's not clear that the whole thing needs to exist.

HP's StyleBook X2 made an appearance, too, although it was still frustratingly unfinished. Nvidia wanted to show how the $479 (£316) Tegra 4 tablet can outpace a Nexus 10 tablet in loading a series of Web pages. But I wasn't allowed to actually touch the StyleBook, which was frustrating because the StyleBook I saw a while ago had some serious touchpad calibration issues. Without more hands-on time, it's hard to say whether this tablet will make serious inroads against the offerings of Asus, Samsung and Apple.