We’ve been waiting for a long, long time to see Intel make a real push in the smartphone market, which is why most of us were disappointed to hear that the first couple of devices powered by Medfield processors will target the low-end market niche. However, neither the Lava Xolo X900 nor the Orange Santa Clara actually look entry-level to us, with their spec sheets recommending them to mid-range technology users at the least.

That being said, we are glad to report that the Santa Clara is finally getting very close to its official European release, which we’ve been awaiting for several months now. Orange now has a dedicated registration page, where you can sign up to get the latest news about the phone as soon as it’s officially revealed. The news may include the release date, pricing, but also the device’s name. That’s right, “Santa Clara” is just a codename and the phone will actually be marketed under a different official moniker.

Knowing Orange, the name should still be inspired by a city or region, but it will be interesting to see what they can come up with to beat the fresh, appealing sound of Santa Clara (which is the hometown of Intel, by the way). Will it be Long Beach? Or maybe San Diego? We’ll see!

As for the phone’s specs, there are a still a couple of details kept under wraps, but we know almost everything we need to know about it. The Santa Clara will run Android 2.3 Gingerbread out of the box, will be upgraded to ICS “shortly after its release”, will feature an 8 MP rear-facing camera, a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom Z2460 processor, 1 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of on-board memory.

Some leaked benchmarks from a couple of months back showed the Santa Clara on-par with many high-end smartphones in terms of browsing performance, while early rumors pointed towards an affordable price tag, close to what an entry-level device would go for these days. I don’t know about you, but the combination of above average performance and low pricing might just paint a “too good to turn down” picture to me.

Now, the only thing we have to do is hope that Orange will not be the only carrier to sell this phone and that some version of the device will eventually be released in the United States as well. Don’t forget to register your interest on Orange’s UK website and check back to us if you happen to get notified about the phone’s release before we do!

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