GDC 2013 Interview: Qualcomm spills its guts about Windows Phones' guts

Our recent trip to the Game Developers Conference focused mostly on games, as you might expect. But the hardware behind the software is fairly important too. For Windows Phone, Nokia is certainly the device manufacturer doing the most to grow the platform. But regardless of the handset maker, one hardware manufacturer provides the chipsets for all Windows Phone devices: Qualcomm.

We sat down and interviewed Michelle Leyden-Li, the Senior Director of Marketing at Qualcomm about the hardware that drives Windows Phone and Windows RT devices. Check out the video after the break!

Stepping up to the Qualcomm GDC Booth

Windows Phone and RT were fairly well represented at Qualcomm’s GDC booth this year. At the central counter, users could interact with a couple of HTC Windows Phone 8 handsets as well as the Dell XPS 10 tablet. The phones rocked Asphalt 7 and Amazing Spider-Man, two of the most graphically intense Windows Phone 8 games to date.

Dell XPS 10 Windows RT tablet at GDC 2013

Since our readers are probably already familiar with HTC’s lineup of phones, let’s briefly touch on the XPS 10, which runs Windows RT. The screen is 10.1 inches and the processor is a dual-core Snapdragon S4 running at 1.5 GHz. You might recognize that as pretty much the same System on a Chip found in the Lumia 820 and 920. It comes in 32 GB and 64 GB models and Dell also sells a mobile keyboard dock that adds a trackpad and extends the tablet’s battery life.

The 32 GB model costs $449.99 and the 64 GB is only slightly more at $499.99. The keyboard will set you back an additional $149.99. Pricing aside, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want one.

Windows Phone emerges

Qualcomm’s booth promoted a variety of hardware, including their new top-of-the-line Snapdragon 800 which is capable of outputting visuals at the burgeoning 4K resolution. Sadly, Microsoft has yet to announce any Windows Phone or RT devices that use the quad-core Snapdragon 800 – but surely the chipset will find its way into Windows devices before too long.

That minor disappointment aside, Qualcomm did show a little more Windows Phone love nearby. A display devoted to emerging markets revealed a handset that I couldn’t quite recognize. Turns out it was the TCL S606. The device contains a single-core Snapdragon processor at its heart, pumping low-cost awesomeness through its electric veins. The S606 is a low-cost device that will launch in China at an undisclosed point in the near future.

7.1 Surround on the go

The final highlight of Qualcomm’s booth occurred in a private theater setup off in the corner. There the company demonstrated the new Headphone: X 7.1 surround sound headset technology they have co-developed with DTS. I’ve never checked out a surround sound headset before, but I found the surround effect in the headset at the show to be totally convincing.

The Snapdragon 800 SoC performs the surround processing, so we won’t be experiencing 7.1 on our Windows Phones anytime soon. But once the next generation of Windows Phone handsets finally starts rolling out with Snapdragon 800s inside, 4K video and 7.1 audio output should come along with them.

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!