Would You Buy an Intel Powered Android Device?

February 28, 2012
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We’ve had the privilege of being able to speak with Intel on severalĀ occasions, as well as with manufacturers that are planning on putting their fresh hot tech in upcoming generations of Android devices.

Really though, to be honest, I just don’t know. In the tech world, everyone with half a brain Ā knows that absolutely everything is going mobile. Even a cursory glance will show that PC’s are going the way of the dinosaurs. With sales of smartphones already exceeding sales of PCs in the past short while, Intel and others in the business of making powerful, yet power-hungry processors are looking for a way to get access to ARM’s piece of the pie.

Like a Boss

Yeah, you. You are the boss. Why? You’re the consumer. You vote with your dollars. You comment with impunity. Your opinions matter. After all, without you, there is no computer, there is no smartphone. So, with everything in the future at stake, you bet Intel has been working hard on mobilizing its handsomely paid pack of genii to figure out how to squeeze more power out of ever smaller microprocessors,Ā a la ARM style.

But can they do it? Of course they can. But, will they be better than what ARM, NVIDIA, TI, and Qualcomm have to offer? This really is the prize winning question. The truth is they certainly have pockets deep enough to be able to do so. Perhaps, though, in this case, money won’t matter. Intel has been happily making oceans of money of a dying ecosystem for a long time. Even their latest processor designs are kept under wraps, and they have not dared to tempt the dragon by submitting real actual products with “Intel inside” to veteran tech bloggers like Anandtech or the like. Why? Because they are afraid. This is their chance to build favorable brand appreciation, and they definitely don’t want to mess it up.

So, what can they do? Well, for one, they could just buyĀ a serious player in the mobile CPU world. Hell, they could even buy ARM if they wanted to, right? Wrong.

Let’s look at the facts

Intel’s market cap isĀ 134.34 billion.Ā ARM’s is 7.79 billion. Do the math.

You’d think that Intel could eat ARM up like a few McDonald’s fries. But, like any fat diabetic on a strict diet, they won’t be allowed to. See, there’s this little thing called regulatory agencies that serve as consumer watch dogs, and ensure that companies play fair and in a non-monopolisticĀ fashion. They do this to further foster competition and to ensure that the consumers’ best interests are kept at heart. Truth is, it’s a good thing, or else, we might have to walk around with car-batteries in backpacks just to keep our Intel-powered mobile devices juiced up for intermittent usage each day. Just kidding, that’ll never happen.

So, what’s Intel got cookin’?

Intel is aggressively courting ODM’s and OEM’s of all colors, stripes, and sizes, to expand it’s mobile intentions. I’m sure they”ll be pulling out all the stops here, including undercutting ARM et. al in price, with bonuses, cash-backs, and all sorts of other unfair and pseudo-legal practices, to strong ARM (too easy) struggling manufacturers into putting Intel inside.Ā 

What Intel powered Android devices can we expect in 2012?Ā 

The rolling joke amongst tech bloggers that have followed this for a long time is that Intel has been mentioning mobile for a long, long time. The reality of the situation is that they have some of the brightest engineers in the world working for them, and the management of the company is no slouch either. They know mobile is where everything is headed, and they’ve been working towards this end for a long time to come. The image above, as you will probably notice, is from 2010. Lots of Intel powered Android devices on the market? Yeah, um.

Orange

Codenamed the Orange Santa Clara, it’s a decently spec’ed Android handset that is running on Intel’s Medfield platform.

Orange has collaborated with an unknown manufacturer to bring its own Intel powered Android smartphone to market. To me, it looks like an LG or an HTC, but I could be wrong. Either way, it’s packing all of the usual physical connectivity we’ve come to expect, like mini HDMI and a Micro-USB port. As the device is exclusively an “Orange” device, it will give you HSDPA connectivity, and “HD Voice”.

It also features an 8-megapixel camera that is capable of 1080p video, and can even employ burst photo capture to grab 10 photos per second for moments that require such intense, rapid memory creation. Ā In terms of physical stature, it is actually pretty svelte, at 123 x 63 x 9.99mm, and weighs in at 117 grams. Intel claims that the device will have up to 14 days of standby, but failed to mention what battery life should be like in every day usage.

MotorolaĀ 

The truth is, very little is known about this particularly interesting device. From the render, leaked courtesy of PocketNow, we know that the device itself will be an Android 4.0 powered Ice Cream Sandwich smartphone. Intel has worked diligently to ensure that it handles media capture quite well. At CES, we had the chance to preview the capability of the hardware, whichĀ demonstrated a very close to ‘instant-on’ capability, and was also able to capture over 10 photos in under one second. Pretty impressive stuff to say the least. Aside from that, we do know that this device is likely to carry the same processor as what we found in Lenovo’s K800, namely a 1.6GHz single core Medfield processor. Either way, it would appear that Android is ready to play nice with Intel.

Lenovo

The one on the right is the Lenovo K800, Intel powered

At CES, we had the chance to play with the Lenovo K800, a single-core chipped Android device, using the new Atom Z2460 chip by Intel, clocked at 1.6GHz. Other features of the phone include a 4.5-inch 720p display, 8MP camera with 1080p video recorder, and a front-facing camera. The phone currently runs on Android 2.3 but it may get updated to Ice Cream Sandwich before it launches in China this spring. To be honest, the device performed quite well. The only thing I didn’t like was how thick it was. Check out the photo below.

Maybe 'ol Intel needs to lose a few...

So there we have it folks, but a small taste of some of the more ambitious plans Intel has hatched in a while. The performance of Intel’s Medfield platform does appear to be equivalent to leading alternatives – at least at the midrange. What remains to be seen is how it does competing with the heavy hitters from Qualcomm, NVIDIA, and Samsung.

Cores Don’t Matter

Intel’s CEO and President went public yesterday, joking that Intel “may have just started another core war.” He was, of course, referring to the upcoming showdown between Intel, ARM, Qualcomm, TI, and Samsung. This is a smart man, and he certainly would not have made such bold assertions unless he was quite confident about what he was bringing to light.

Having read over thousands upon thousands of comments here at Android Authority and awesome Android sites, like AndroidandMe and others, it’s pretty clear to me that consumers are clamoring for quad core devices. But are more cores better? We’ve seen what sort of performance dual core setups like Qualcomm’s S4 are capable of, and perhaps the sage-like CEO of Intel is onto something.

Major manufacturers are sprinting at breakneck speed to bring devices with quad core SoC’s to market, because that’s what the highly coveted early adopter demographic is demanding, while Intel is opting for a 1.6Ghz single core SoC – for now.

The CEO went on to say thatĀ ā€œ[he] doesn’tĀ think [the number of cores] matters. What matters is the chip itself.” He believes “the core comparison is really improper – what does matter is the performance and the efficiency of the processor.ā€

No matter what – the combined sweat equity, sheer genius, and resource and development budgets of the world’s most sophisticated technology companies all competing with one another is going to result in absolutelyĀ unparalleled mobile computing experiences. Viva the mobile computing revolution!

And for those of you interested in finely tuned, shareholder loving, corporate PR speak, check out the press release below.

Will Intel be able to deliver the goods? Let us know what you think guys!

Show Press Release

Intel Expands Smartphone Portfolio: New Customers, Products, Software and Services

Announces Smartphone Device Engagements with Orange*, Lava*, ZTE* and Visa*

Discloses Range of New Smartphone SoCs and Communications Products

MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS, Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 27, 2012 ā€“ Intel Corporation President and CEO Paul Otellini today detailed a number of announcements and plans aimed at expanding the companyā€™s smartphone product portfolio and customer ecosystem, including strategic new engagements with Orange*, Lava International Ltd.*, ZTE*, and Visa*.

ā€œWe are very pleased to add new, important customers and capabilities to our phone offerings today. We remain focused on delivering exciting new features and outstanding performance to smartphone customers around the world.ā€ said Otellini.

Otellini made the announcements during an Intel news conference at Mobile World Congress. He also highlighted the companyā€™s plans to expand its smartphone SoC and communications product roadmaps for the performance and value smartphone market segments.

New Smartphone Customer Engagements
Building on strategic engagements with Motorola Mobility Inc.* and Lenovo*, Intel detailed new device relationships with Orange, Lava International Ltd. and ZTE.

Yves Maitre, Orange senior vice president of Mobile Multimedia and Devices, joined Otellini to discuss a new Orange smartphone based on the IntelĀ® Atomā„¢ processor Z2460 reference design. Housed in a sleek body, the design enables rich entertainment experiences and Orange services, including Orange TV, Daily Motion, Deezer, Orange Wednesdays and Orange Gestures. The Orange smartphone will be available in the United Kingdom and France later this summer.

Intel also announced plans to enter the high-growth market for smartphones in India through an alliance with Lava International Ltd., one of the fastest-growing Indian mobile handset companies.Vishal Sehgal, Lava co-founder and board director, announced the launch of XOLO Smartphone by Lava. The XOLO X900 is based on Intelā€™s smartphone reference design and will be the first Intel technology-based smartphone in the India market. The device will be available from top retail outlets early in the second quarter of 2012 and will support major Indian cellular networks.

Similar to its previously announced partnership with Motorola Mobility, Intel also announced a multi-year mobile device collaboration across smartphones and tablets with global handset maker ZTE. Mr. He Shiyou, executive vice president and head of the Terminal Division of ZTE, discussed how his companyā€™s alliance with Intel will enable ZTE to move faster and create unique and differentiated products for wireless operators. He also announced that ZTEā€™s first Intel-powered mobile device is scheduled to debut in the second half of 2012.

Expanding Smartphone SoC and Communications Roadmaps
Building on its ecosystem engagements, Intel announced plans for three new smartphone SoC products that expand the companyā€™s portfolio from the performance-to-value market segments.

Extending the leading performance and energy efficiency of the Intelā„¢ AtomĀ® processor Z2460, formerly codenamed ā€œMedfield,ā€ Intel announced that the platform will now support speeds up to 2GHz.

Intel also announced the Atomā„¢ Z2580 processor that doubles the performance of the Atom processor Z2460, and features an advanced multimode LTE/3G/2G solution. Intel will sample the Z2580 in the second half of the year with customer products scheduled in the first half of 2013.

Addressing the growing handset opportunity in emerging markets where consumers look for more value at lower prices, Intel disclosed plans for the IntelĀ® Atomā„¢ processor Z2000.

The Z2000 is aimed squarely at the value smartphone market segment, which industry sources predict could reach up to 500 million units by 20151.The platform includes a 1.0 GHz Atom CPU offering great graphics and video performance, and the ability to access the Web and play Google Android* games. It also supports the IntelĀ® XMM 6265 3G HSPA+ modem with Dual-SIM 2G/3G, offering flexibility on data/voice calling plans to save on costs. Intel will sample the Z2000 in mid-2012 with customer products scheduled by early 2013.

Building on these 32nm announcements, Otellini discussed how the Atomā„¢ processor will outpace Mooreā€™s Law and announced that Intel will ship 22nm SoCs for carrier certification next year, and is already in development on 14nm SoC technology.

In 2011, Intel shipped in more than 400 million cellular platforms. Building on this market segment position, Intel announced the XMM 7160, an advanced multimode LTE/3G/2G platform with support for 100Mbps downlink and 50Mbps uplink, and support for HSPA+ 42Mbps. Intel will sample the product in the second quarter with customer designs scheduled to launch by the end of 2012.

Intel also announced that it is sampling the XMM 6360 platform, a new slim modem 3G HSPA+ solution supporting 42Mbps downlink and 11.5Mbps uplink for small form factors.

Building Better Experiences on Intel Architecture
Intelā€™s strategy is to create and enable engaging, consistent, aware and secure user experiences across a range of mobile devices.

An emerging trend is the use of mobile devices to enable secure online and retail commerce. Otellini welcomed John Partridge, President, Visa Inc., who announced a strategic multi-year alliance to develop mobile commerce solutions tailored to consumers in developed and developing countries.

The effort includes collaboration across a range of Visa mobile services and IntelĀ® Atomā„¢-based smartphones and tablets to deliver compelling and secure user services. As a first step, Partridge announced that Intelā€™s smartphone reference design is now certified for Visa payWave* mobile financial transactions. This means that customer products based on Intelā€™s smartphone reference design will have time-to-market support of Visa mobile services.

Building on its collaboration with Google, Intel continues to work closely with ISVs to help ensure the majority of Android apps run on Intel Atom processor-based devices. Otellini discussed how Intel has all the right tools and expertise to support the robust mobile application developer ecosystem.

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