Nokia N8 has secret ANT/ANT+ chip?!

| January 22, 2011 | 23 Replies

Before we address what on earth ANT/ANT+ is, let’s rewind a little with some background.

Nokia has a habit of not revealing all hardware features in their devices. Secret little Easter eggs if you will, as opposed to blatant marketing fail :p. Examples? N95 and accelerometer, N800 and FM Radio, C7 with a NFC Chip and for quite some time we didn’t really know that a  quite a selection of Nokia’s current line up had the capability for a feature called HD voice.

Now, remember the Nokia N8 tear down by the iFixit folks in October – image above. The folks at have noticed something suspicious looking.

Look at this. Check out the arrow.

They think it contains this chip, from chipwork’s teardown of the Motorola Droid X

Chip works describes this simply as ” another design win with the WLAN Bluetooth/FM combination chip.”

And here’s a crop from our iFixit’s image.  @fneuf  reckons it’s the same chip.

Judging by these links fneuf provides it seems it is:

“For the Symbian Foundation, the WLAN adaptation package represents another major milestone in fostering one of the largest open source transitions in the industry. For TI, this package represents the introduction of the TI WiLink™ 6.0 WLAN driver (running on WL1271) as a key component of Symbian^3.”

Next, the Bill of Materials from iSuppli

What’s so special about that?

Doing a search for WL1271 reveals that it is indeed a “WiLink™ 6.0 single-chip WLAN, Bluetooth® and FM solutions“. fneuf lists the same source.

On the “Powerful Bluetooth Core part” it shows

  • Best-in-class RF performance
  • Dedicated audio processor system-on-chip
  • Supports latest Bluetooth low-energy (Bluetooth 4.0) and Bluetooth 3.0 specifications (BT4.0?)
  • Supports latest ANT/ANT+ ultra low power protocol
  • Extensible to support additional protocols

What is  ANT/ANT+

What is this? Basically a short range wireless connection that uses very little power. On a coin cell, where as a bluetooth device would last 1-7 days, ANT would last…wait for it…3+ years. What?! See the text at the end of the post more explanation about ANT and why it should be used.

But to introduce it, let’s have Sony Ericsson Brag about ANT+ for us!

Connect to pedometer, heart rate monitor, and several more health monitors all at the same  time. Useful in the sport industry to track performance. At last year’s Tour de France, 2/3 (wow) were connected to ANT+ sensors.

So the Nokia N8 has one too perhaps? The Droid X owners are also aware but a search has shown that they can’t really connect up to ANT+ devices. Nokia has had support for heart rate monitors but I’m not sure they’re using ANT.

However, something struck my mind. A couple of days ago, I wanted to write about the Nokia Push Burton campaign which, frankly, I didn’t really understand. Through twitter I learnt a little bit more about it. One piece of information – the N8 through several sensors was connected to a Nokia N8 (Cheers @MickyFin). Is this being done by ANT+? Or just normal bluetooth?


Another from Recombu

May be totally unrelated – so we’d have to wait for someone to hack the N8 to utilise ANT+. Though you can see how it could be accomplished by ANT+.

What else can it be useful for?

Current Applications:

  • Wrist-mounted instrumentation
  • Heart Rate Monitoring (HRM)
  • Speed and Distance Monitoring (SDM)
  • Bike computers
  • Health and wellness monitoring devices
  • Industrial sensors
  • Low data-rate communications
  • Active RFID
  • Location-based services
  • Utilities wireless Automated Meter Reading (AMR)
  • Smart toys
  • Automotive instruments
  • Remote Control
  • Central control of power devices

Here’s some more details from the blog-n8 folks.

Your smartphone can “talk” with a multitude of devices. Quelques exemples d’utilisation : Some examples:

  • You receive directly on your smartphone in real time data from the sensors ANT + of your bike.   Once at their destination, they are automatically transferred to your PC for study, via ANT +
  • Sounded an alarm on your smartphone if your blood sugar reaches a critical value,
  • your phone automatically dials an emergency number if your heartbeat is irregular … or if an intrusion is detected in your home

Some more ANT searching.

Now to  the ANT Wireless Director, Rod Morris:

What is ANT?

ANT was designed to solve real problems – and it does. It is the lightest protocol available that still has the ability to scale into complex network topologies and communication methods. This means that ANT can achieve lower cost and lower power, the most important criteria in mobile personal monitoring technology. ANT achieves this by closely matching the varying requirements of devices in a network to the resources used, right down to the simplest devices. ANT finds its efficiency in scalability and dynamic range while competitive protocols are heavier in meeting the base requirements

Why use ANT? ANT advantages:

Study Chooses ANT

A brief competitive market analysis shows that ZigBee was also intended to be the ultra-low power wireless network solution. ANT, however, is 4x lower power and 60% BOM cost of a ZigBee node while providing a much simpler sensor and network development environment. Note: In a recent third party study of home security system development, ANT proved to save 50% on development time over ZigBee. As a separate comparative, Bluetooth is designed for audio bandwidth and is not capable of running from a coin cell.

Low Battery Requirements

The demands for WSNs differ significantly from less complex Personal Area Networks (PANs) and Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) serviced by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi®. To be competitive with traditional wired systems, WSNs must be very reliable, feature ultra-low power consumption (because many of the network nodes have to be battery-powered and often be hard to access) and above all, inexpensive to purchase, install and maintain. ANT is the ideal protocol to meet these constraints.

Optional Interoperability

ANT offers the only available practical watch technology that enables communication between this watch hub and various sensors. The reliable connectivity of ANT+ makes it possible for various manufacturers’ products to wirelessly interface. This promotes consumer choice for best-in-class products – a critical element in the viability, growth and success of any technological innovation. Still fulfilling market need, SensRcore allows designers to immediately utilize the wireless protocol in myriad applications. And ANT’s single chip solution minimizes cost and footprint for tomorrow’s increasingly smaller device designs.

Is this something you might find useful? Will Nokia acknowledge the presence of ANT/ANT+  in future firmware updates?

via @fneuf


Category: Nokia, Nseries, Symbian

About the Author ()

Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@) or email me directly on jay[at]
  • Thanks for the links ! For the Bluetooth 4.0 support, it seems current chip is not eligible. While making researches on Texas Instruments Website for the preparation of the article, I found that 3 versions of the chip exists. All are ANT+ compatible, but only one is BLE compatible (it is the WL1271/3L). The other difference being the presence/absence of 802.11a or WiFi “a” compatibility (which uses 5Ghz band).
    Let’s hope we’ll find a way to “unleash” this function !

    • Insidus pontus

      But maybe they’re hush hush about it because IT Is NOT A GOOD THING. maybe its yet another big brother thingie being pushed down on hardware manufactures.
      Like there aren’t enough scandals related to RFID like tech.

  • Ali

    IN my opinion this is were NOKIA fails
    It should completely scrap it’s whole advertising team and just hire a bunch of fan boys, because the idiots up there REALLy don’t know how to gloat or flaunt their successes, which makes people think their a mockery.
    Frankly I think NOKIA should take a page from apples book who seem to hold a press conference every time a Iphone is sold, or every time Steve Jobs farts…

    • N8 Fanboy

      I agree with this statement 10000%

      We Fans are Nokia’s greatest asset. We defend then through thick and thin against ignorant American bloggers and American iFanboys and Ad-Droid botboys. They should listen to what we say and be MORE AGGRESSIVE.

      Plzying nice and friendly Finns won’t get them anywhere in cut-throat North America with their nationalist support of Google and Apple.

      • SGean

        need a filter to filter out spamms like these.. =.=

  • nocare

    another reason to hate f@ck nokia marketing team

    i dont mind being badly paid to market nokia phones

  • praat

    I have doubts that Nokia has licensed ANT for this device. It’s a common to use chips that “have it all” but stuff is just disabled in TI drivers or in possibly even in HW level.

  • Syed

    I totally agree Nokia’s marketing are crap! I mean they dont advertise anything, I see N8 ads without headline words like ‘amazing’ ‘best’ ‘world class’ 12mp camera, HD video, gorilla glass, most powerful discrete gpu
    They get paid to do not much!
    I hope they streamline there marketing team also!

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  • momchil

    i’m still not convinced that n8 has the same chip. it’s not visible on ifixit pictures.

  • Nrde

    If there isn’t software support for this feature it’s the same as not having the hardware inside in the first place.

    I’m using (and I have used before I even had a smartphone) Suunto heart rate monitor/watch to track my running and other sports activities. I also use Sportstracker but as the only supported belts use bluetooth I would need 2 belts to take full advantage of Sportstracker in my phone.

    If there was ant support I could at least in theory use my existing belt to track hear rate with my phone also. (Suunto uses ant with their products)

  • chrdenzel

    Why mass produce part of a capability – hidden or not – in a product who’s life cycle in this market will probably be 1.5-2 years and not have all the requisite other requirements in place to achieve operability – sensors, software etc. And as other have pointed out so well, Nokia does not seem to have the marketing brilliance to trumpet these technological achievements/products.

    Functionality is great. But building currently non-functioning hardware in short product life cycles sounds cost ineffective.

  • Pingback: В смартфоне Nokia N8 найден скрытый чип ANT/ANT+ | S-blog()

  • Suunto uses Ant (and NOT Ant+) protocol. The TI chipset is only Ant+. So Suunto is Not compatible but Garmin is.
    Only the recent Sony Xperia models (exept the X10) and Motorola Droid has a comfirmed Ant+ chip inside and where the protocol is activated.

    • Some mistakes there. Let me precise :
      1 – ANT+ is built upon the ANT protocol
      2 – The TI chip does of course handle “both”

  • Pingback: Bluetooth and ANT+ Sensor Tech for Mobile Phones Today | Running Digital()

  • Aschwin

    Any news on the ant+ chip and a nokia n8?
    I like to know more about this item.

    So if i understand it wright, the ant+ chip is programmed but triggerd by a mcu.
    Both programs must be in the nokia n8.

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