For the longest time, if you wanted an Intel chip in your smartphone, you would have had to hack open the phone's frame and superglue the processor right inside.
Now there's an easier way! Intel has announced the first ever smartphone using an Intel processor, heralding its entrance into the still-expanding smartphone market. The phone is called the XOLO X900 (catchy!) and it features a 1.6 GHz Atom processor, a 4-inch LCD screen, Android Gingerbread (Ice Cream Sandwich is on its way, says Intel) and an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera capable of taking "bursts" of 10 photos at a time.
Excited? Well, here comes the bad news:
The XOLO X900 is being made by Indian smartphone manufacturer Lava; it will retail for 22,000 Indian Rupees; and it will be available exclusively at the Indian retail chain Croma. Add this all together and you might correctly infer that Intel's first smartphone will be available only in India.
Yes, Intel's smartphone venture will begin in India, and only in India, for the time being. If you want an Intel smartphone of your own, start looking for tickets on SpiceJet.
Nevertheless, the XOLO X900 represents Intel making good on its January promise to enter the smartphone market with its Atom processors, a challenge to the ARM-based chips that have dominated tablets and smartphone sales thus far. Intel had previously announced that Motorola will be releasing phones (presumably in America) with its processors in the future, though obviously India's Lava has beaten Motorola to the right to call itself the first Intel smartphone.
As Matt Burns of TechCrunch speculates, however, Intel could be using emerging markets like India and China as a pilot program of sorts before it puts out its American smartphones:
This is just a test for Intel, though. The company is launching this device in only India. A similar but slightly more powerful handset will hit China later this year. Intel is using these fast-moving markets as a test bed of sorts. If found to be successful, Intel will no doubt look to other OEMs for the slower moving, but more lucrative markets of Europe and the US. Until then, Indian buyers will have Intel smartphones all to themselves.
We know that companies more familiar to American consumers, like Lenovo and the aforementioned Motorola, are working on Android smartphones with Intel chips, but there is no stated timetable for their releases. Intel might be preoccupied with the release of its upcoming next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, which will power a new batch of Windows Ultrabooks and is rumored to run the long-awaited MacBook Pro refresh that will supposedly occur this summer.
The Xolo X900 (which, at an equivalent of $420, costs about half as much as an iPhone 4S in India) is Intel's opening move in its great smartphone experiment. You can read all about it on Intel's website, and if you happen to live in India, you can pick one up at your neighborhood Croma. The rest of us will just have to wait for our Intel smartphones (though let's put away the super glue, you guys).
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