Motorola's first Android phone to run Ice Cream Sandwich, or version 4.0, as well as Intel's new Medfield hardware, is more understated than it is a head-turner, if leaked photos posted by PocketNow on Feb. 14 prove to be the real deal.
The Motorola smartphone is slim and gray, with a button-free, touch-screen-centric face. The device is said to run an updated version of the MotoBlur user interface and grab some extra attention with its camera, which reportedly features instant-on capabilities and 15 frame-per-second burst capture.
The smartphone, the name of which is unknown, is expected to receive a proper introduction at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Spain, which kicks off Feb. 27.
Motorola, which has traditionally included Texas Instruments' processors in its smartphones, announced the inking of a new deal with Intel at January's Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Intel CEO Paul Otellini and Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha took to the stage Jan. 10 to announce a multi-year strategic agreement in which Motorola smartphones will run Intel Atom processors based on the Z2460 platform, beginning in the second half of 2012.
"We expect the combination of our companies to break new ground and bring the very best of computing capabilities to smartphones and tablets," said Otellini, who's depending on the relationship to keep Intel competing against ARM-based processors from Qualcomm and others.
Speaking with Reuters at CES, ARM CEO Warren East called the Atom Medfield platform "good enough," though hardly a threat to ARM's dominance in the smartphone space.
"[Intel has] taken some designs that were never meant for mobile phones, and they've literally wrenched those designs and put them into a power-performance space which is roughly good enough for mobile phones," East told Reuters.
East added that ARM considers Intel a "serious competitor," but doesn't believe it can ever be a leader in power efficiency.
Also on stage, Paul Jacobs, CEO of ARM-partner Qualcomm, talked up the Snapdragon chip.
"People want to do more things with their phones, but battery size remains constant," said Jacobs. "It's like having a car with a fixed-size fuel tank, and you want to drive 100 more miles. You've got to make the engine more efficient. That's what we do for a living."
During the fourth quarter of 2011, Motorola shipped 5.3 million smartphones, for a 2011 total of 18.7 million smartphones.
Market leader Samsung, by contrast, shipped 36.5 million smartphones during the quarter and 97.4 million during the full year, while Apple shipped 37 million during the quarter, by Strategy Analytics' count, and 93 million over the year.
Motorola's Jha has said that, to make better use of marketing dollars, Motorola plans to make fewer but more differentiated devices. In January he told The Verge, defending Motorola's MotoBlur user interface, "Verizon and AT&T don't want seven stock [Android Ice Cream Sandwich] devices on their shelves," adding that there's no viable profit in devices that aren't differentiated.
Motorola's strategy also includes being attentive to international markets. In February alone, it has introduced its MotoLuxe and Defy Mini smartphones in Germany, two new tablets in Greece, a white version of the Motorola RAZR in Saudi Arabia and the Defy Mini in the United Kingdom.