June 1, 2012

Intel Launching Smartphone In U.K.

Lee Rannals for

Intel's San Diego smartphone will go on sale in the U.K. on June 6 for Orange customers, the operator said on Thursday.

The smartphone is powered by Intel's Atom Z2460 processor at 1.6 GHz, and is the first Intel smartphone.

ARM-based smartphone processors are dominating both the phone and tablet markets, so Intel is attempting to make its dent in the up-and-coming industry with the launch of San Diego.

The Intel phone has a 4.03-inch screen with a 1024-by-600 pixel resolution and an 8-megapixel camera.  The camera is able to snap 10 images in one-second and shoot high-definition video.

The San Diego will be available to Orange customers for $310 on the Pay As Your Go plan, compared to Apple's iPhone 4S which sales for $754 on the same plan.

The smartphone will be offered for free for customers who sign a 24-month contract, which is a package that includes 50 minutes, 50 texts, and 100MB of mobile data a month.

The San Diego is not the only smartphone launching this week.  In China, an Intel-powered Lenovo LePhone K800 launched for $520.  This phone is also on sale in India.

"This is part of our strategy to grow into what we refer to as adjacent markets, whether that be premium high performance smartphone products in the mature markets or lower cost solutions in some of the emerging markets, and everything in between," Graham Palmer, Intel's country manager for the UK and Ireland told the BBC.

"This is absolutely a core part of Intel's strategy to allow us to take our technology into these new growth sectors."

He said Intel has worked closely with Google and other developers to ensure apps designed for ARM-based phones would be compatible with the company's Atom chip.

Intel said the single core CPU on its chip outperformed many dual core models on the market, but said it would be heated by recently released handsets featuring quad core technologies.

"It's not about going head-to-head with a [Samsung] Galaxy S3," Paul Jevons, director of products and devices at Everything Everywhere, told BBC.

"In targeting those customers who may be new to smartphones and are at a different point in the market we are able to meet an unsatisfied need."

Malik Saadi, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, said in a statement that breaking into the smartphone market is not going to be easy for Intel.

"I think Intel is making a mistake by entering the mobile space with an entry-level product rather than from the high-end side. That risks diluting their brand," said Saadi. "In the PC world Intel's brand is associated with the high performance, yet San Diego is positioned as entry level. I don't understand why they have done that, it seems like the wrong decision."

He said that consumers now recognized that more cores means more power, so chipmakers are now having to take notice of that and promote their brands.

"Last year Qualcomm announced a branding strategy to promote its Snapdragon chips, and Intel obviously now wants to migrate its campaign from PCs to mobile devices. So expect chips as brands to become more important over the next few years."