The first smartphone with an Intel chip will become available in India this week from mobile device maker Lava International, ending a long wait for the chip maker to enter the smartphone market. Lava will ship the Xolo X900 smartphone with Intel's Atom chip code-named Medfield, said a source familiar with the product plans. Intel CEO Paul Otellini on Tuesday also said that the first Intel Inside smartphone would ship later this week.
The smartphone has a 4.03-inch screen and an Intel Z2460 single-core chip running at 1.6Ghz. Intel has said that smartphones with the Z2460 chip can provide battery life of up to eight hours of 3G voice calling, six hours of high-definition video decoding, or five hours of 3G browsing, and standby time of 14 days.
The Xolo X900 smartphone was originally announced by Lava and Intel at the Mobile World Congress Show in Barcelona toward the end of February. The smartphone comes with an as-yet-unknown version of Android and also has two cameras, high-definition video capabilities and NFC (near-field communication) to share information or make payments quickly at points of sale. The retail price for the smartphone was not immediately available.
Intel has also partnered with Lenovo, Motorola, Lava and Orange on smartphones. Lenovo's K900 smartphone with the Medfield chip is due next month, while Orange may ship an Intel Inside smartphone in June.
Xolo is a big breakthrough for Intel, which for years has fallen flat in efforts to enter the high-volume smartphone market. Intel in 2010 showed an LG smartphone based on the earlier Atom chip code-named Moorestown, but the device never reached customers. Intel primarily makes high-powered chips for PCs and servers, but in recent years it has thrown financial muscle behind developing low-power chips for tablets and smartphones, most of which use ARM processors.
There is space for Intel to compete with ARM in the smartphone market, Otellini said during a conference call Tuesday to discuss Intel's financial results. He acknowledged it may take time to establish a meaningful presence but said the smartphone market is big enough for Intel to find a place in it.
Some of the top smartphone makers include Apple and Samsung, which both use ARM processors in smartphones and tablets. Intel is having a "continuing dialogue" with both companies, Otellini said. He didn't specify details about the discussions, but Apple and Samsung both use Intel chips in PCs. "I can't speak for Apple, but we know where they are and they know where we are," Otellini said.
The smartphone launch is a sign of progress, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research. However, there are still questions on whether Intel can overtake ARM, whose processor designs are more power-efficient. "ARM has obviously had a multiyear head start. Will there be an overnight transition? Of course not," McCarron said.
This is just Intel's first wave of products, and the competition could intensify as Intel releases faster and more power-efficient chips, McCarron said.
ARM has obviously had a multi-year head start. Will there be an overnight transition? Of course not.