LG Electronics has launched the Optimus 4X HD smartphone which is powered by the Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor and runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the company said yesterday.

The move from two to four cores in high-end smartphones is expected to be one of the big hardware trends at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which opens its doors on February 27.

The heart of LG's new flagship smartphone is Nvidia's Tegra 3 processor, which has four cores running at 1.5GHz.

But what Nvidia calls the "4-plus-1" processor architecture isn't just about brute force, according to LG. While the CPU's four cores tackle high-performance tasks such as games and HD video playback, it also has a more frugal processor core that is used for simpler tasks such as calls, emails and music playback to increase battery life, LG said.

The rest of the phone's specifications closely match other recent high-end phones. For example, the phone has a 4.7-inch True HD IPS screen with a resolution of 1280 by 720 pixels, which is housed in a shell that is 8.9mm thick.

Storage capacity is 16GB plus 1GB of RAM, and there is an 8-megapixel camera, as well.

The smartphone will start shipping during the second quarter in Europe, but will likely arrive in stores during the third quarter, according to a spokeswoman. LG didn't detail what the device will cost.

Earlier this week LG announced the Optimus 3D Max and the Optimus L3, L5 and L7. All models will be on display at Mobile World Congress, where LG also plans to provide more details about the smartphones.