A set of specifications for Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) purported Surface Phone recently hit the Web, courtesy of WMPowerUser.com. Although the specifications might seem legitimate at a cursory glance, they are actually fake. Allow me to explain.
The processor is a dead giveaway
According to the site, the phone will have a quad-HD AMOLED display, a 21-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front camera, and some other standard high-end smartphone goodies.
That's all well and good, and totally plausible for a flagship smartphone expected to launch in late 2015 or early 2016, but one thing is amiss: the applications processor.
The spec sheet calls for an Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) Atom x3 processor, presumably the LTE variant. The Atom x3 is a low-end mobile chip from Intel aimed at relatively cheap mobile devices; it is not at all suitable for a flagship device such as the rumored Surface Phone.
For example, according to Intel's datasheet for the SoFIA LTE parts, the chip is capable of driving only up to a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, making it a no-go.
As if that all weren't enough, according to Intel's SoFIA LTE data sheet, the maximum display resolution supported at a smooth 60 frames per second is 1280-by-800. The chip can drive a 1920-by-1080 display, but at much lower framerates -- an irrelevant point, though, since the rumored Surface Phone is said to have a 2560-by-1440 display.
Finally, just to drive the point home, it's also worth mentioning that according to Intel's ARK page, the chip supports only 2 gigabytes of memory, so it wouldn't be able to support the rumored 3 to 4 gigabytes of memory that would come as part of the Surface Phone.
What would a real "Surface Phone" have?
If we assume that the rest of the Surface Phone specifications are accurate and that the source just got the applications processor wrong, what kind of applications processor should such a phone have?
Well, first of all, it would need to use high-end applications from a merchant vendor. The obvious candidate in this case would be either the Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 810 or, if the phone is coming out during the first half of 2016, the upcoming Snapdragon 820.
That said, in an official Qualcomm press release, both Microsoft and Qualcomm flat-out said that Lumia smartphones with the Snapdragon 810 processor would be coming out this year, so that seems to be a pretty safe bet.
If Microsoft were planning to go with Intel for a potential Surface Phone, then the appropriate processor for such a device would be Intel's upcoming Broxton system-on-a-chip. This is Intel's next-generation, high-end applications processor, which should have all of the features required to power the phone described in the "leaked specifications" of the Surface Phone.
This chip, though, won't be out until sometime in the first half of 2016, though, so if Microsoft is aiming for a late 2015 unveiling, then Intel is out of the running by default.