BEIJING — Salespersons are used to praising all sorts of smartphone specs from screen sizes to operating systems, sparing no efforts to ensnare buyers. It now seems they will have one more feature to add to their sales arsenal.
Intel Corp appears to have mixed feelings about the mobile arena, but it has not been able to resist the lure of the booming market. It has been staging a war in the PC sector, with its ultrabooks battling against Apple’s hot-selling MacBook Air lineup as well as tablet computers that have invaded traditional PC’s territory.
Now, the California-based chip giant has ultimately decided to move into the mobile market to take on ARM-based chips that are currently dominating it.
Intel announced the new Atom Z2460 “Medfield” platform at the Consumer Electronics Show at the start of the year, signaling the chip maker’s resolution to grab a slice out of ARM’s dominant market share. Some handset makers have already been quick to follow the platform, with the first Intel Inside smartphones having been revealed, the latest of which was announced by Lenovo this week as the company partnered with Intel to make its first Intel-powered smartphone.
“It is a must for Intel to enter the mobile market, which will continue its great growth momentum for years to come.” Kevin Wang, Shanghai-based director of China research for market research firm IHS iSuppli, told the Global Times.
By 2015, the shipment of smartphones worldwide is expected to hit 1 billion units, while tablet computer sales would rise to roughly 300 million units, according to Wang.
Intel’s attempt to take on ARM has the market generally believing that the traditional PC chip ruler will certainly have an impact on its rival.
“Intel joining the battle will bring means changes to the market, though it may appear to be slightly weak when compared to ARM chips in terms of power consumption,” Wang remarked.
Intel is expected to see its shares rise as much as 50 percent in the next two years, driven by the company muscling onto the marketplace for mobile devices, according to a report in Barron’s last week.
“Intel will be a formidable competitor in the smartphone and tablet markets shortly,” the newspaper reported, citing Todd Lowenstein, a portfolio manager for HighMark Capital Management.
ARM Ltd, which designs and licenses chips for mobile devices, is feeling the pressure. Warren East, chief executive of ARM, said earlier this year that by 2015, between 5 and 10 percent of smartphones would be powered by Intel chips.
IHS iSuppli’s Wang noted however that Intel may not make a deadly impact any time soon as “it still needs time to find enough partners such as Lenovo to initiate a really impressive anti-ARM campaign.”
Furthermore, it would be vital to know whether growlingly tech-savvy consumers would buy into the idea of Intel inside smartphones? Would they prove cutting-edge for people to turn off ARM-based ones?
This week’s special TECH page introduces you to the first ever gadgets with an Intel chipset as well as several latest devices powered by the mainstream ARM chipset.
Believe it or not, the first ever smartphone running on Intel’s Atom X2460 processor is developed by a little-known India-based handset maker Lava International, an indication of Intel’s pushing its mobile chip in the emerging markets, where growth momentum is way faster than the global average. The Xolo X900 from Lava features Intel’s 1.6-gigahertz Atom CPU’s hyper-threading technology and support HSPA+ connectivity. It is powered by the Android 2.3 Gingerbread system, and is upgradable to Ice Cream Sandwich, according to the company, without revealing the exact date of the upgrade.
The new phone has a 4.03-inch high-resolution 1024X600 LCD screen, with a thickness of 10.99mm, slightly thicker than the LePhone K800 (see below). It also carries a rear camera of 8 megapixels with flash and a front camera of 1.3 megapixels. It packs an internal storage of 16 gigabytes.
The device also features a 1,460mAh battery, providing a theoretical standby time of 14 days, the company claims.
The device has been on sale in the Indian market since the end of April, retailing for roughly $390, the company announced in late April.
Powered by an 800-megahertz ARM Cortex-A5 processor and Qualcomm MSM7225A Snapdragon Chipset, the XT550 from Motorola Mobility is a latest smartphone that is available in the Chinese mainland market targeting those young music lovers.
The new phone, released by Motorola Wednesday, packs a 4.0-inch TFT capacitive touch screen. It sports music centric functions that include a key for one touch music play, as well as sound enhancement such as Dolby Mobile and SRS WOW HD.
The gadget also features a 1,735mAh battery, supporting up to 30 hours of music playback. The device sells for 1,699 yuan, according to the company.
Lenovo is fast following the Medfield platform, which unveiled Wednesday the LePhone K800, the first smartphone running on an Intel processor coming to the Chinese mainland market. The latest member to the Chinese handset maker’s LePhone lineup features a 1.6-gigahertz Atom Z2460 CPU, and is powered by Google’s Android 2.3.7 operating system. The company has yet to reveal when it would be upgraded to the latest Android 4.0 system, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich.
The new device, with a 4.5-inch TFT IPS display, features a high-definition resolution of 1028X720. The device, with a size of 130.5 X71.2X10.95mm, looks tough and a bit clumsy, but it is not hefty, weighing in at 161 grams. The gadget has a rear camera of 8 megapixels as well as a front-facing camera of 1.3 megapixels for video chatting. It also packs a removable 1,900mAh battery.
The gadget has been available since this week in the mainland market, initially sold via 360buy.com, the country’s largest business to consumer website, the company announced at an event in Beijing Wednesday. It goes for 3,299 yuan ($518), according to the price tag posted on the website.
The latest One XL of the HTC One series is powered by a dual-Core 1.5-gigahertz Snapdragon S4 chipset. Supporting the fourth-generation LTE network, the new device runs on the latest Ice Cream Sandwich platform.
The 4.7-inch device with a resolution of 1280X720 weighs in at 129 grams, with a thickness of 8.9mm. Packing a total storage of 32 gigabytes, the phone also features an 8-megapixel rear camera with auto focus, smart LED flash as well as BSI sensor to enable better low-light captures. It also carries a 1.3-megapixel front camera. The phone has recently hit the European markets, going for roughly $600.