Intel: Medfield-Based XOLO X900 Coming to India April 23

The Lava XOLO X900 Android-based smartphone will be available in India, but will give the rest of the world an idea of what to expect from Intel in the near future, officials said.

Intel officials are confirming that the first smartphone powered by its chips will go on sale April 23 in India.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini first bridged the idea of the smartphone during a conference call April 17 with analysts and journalists to discuss the company€™s first-quarter financial numbers. However, Otellini didn€™t divulge any details, though speculation centered on India-based Lava International.

The chip giant on April 19 confirmed that Lava will be the first mobile device maker to offer an Intel-powered smartphone, the XOLO X900, which the companies said is generally available now, and customers will be able to buy it April 23 for about $424.

Intel and Lava first announced their partnership at the Mobile World Congress show in February.

Though the XOLO X900€”an Android device powered by Intel€™s Atom Z2460 Medfield chip€”will be available in India, it should give a glimpse of what consumers worldwide can expect as more Intel-based smartphones hit the market, according to Mike Bell, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel€™s Mobile and Communications Group.

€œThe first smartphone with Intel inside is now available to Indian consumers,€ Bell said in a statement. €œThe boundaries of personal computing are expanding. As we enter the India market with our first smartphone from Lava, the device not only showcases the rich capabilities and user benefits of Intel computing, but also highlights the exciting possibilities of what€™s still to come.€

The XOLO X900 is a significant step for Intel executives, who for more than a year have been talking about their intentions of getting into the booming mobile device space and challenging ARM Holdings, whose low-power chip designs currently are found in almost all smartphones and tablets. Intel still makes billions of dollars through its core PC and server chip businesses, but those are mature markets and don€™t hold the promise of such significant growth that smartphones and tablets do.

According to market research firm Gartner, smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2011 hit 149 million units, a 47.3 percent increase from the same period in 2010. Much of that was due to the release of Apple€™s iPhone 4S, the analysts said. For the year, vendors sold 472 million smartphones, a 58 percent jump from the previous year. In 2012, sales of smartphones should jump another 39 percent, according to Gartner analyst Robert Cozza.

And Intel officials want a piece of that. They are pushing the development of the company€™s low-power Atom platform, which initially was created for the netbook market, but has since expanded to include everything from smartphones to embedded devices. During the April 17 conference call, Otellini said the performance of Atom would continue growing at twice the rate of Moore€™s Law through 2014.

Intel is making multiple incursions into the mobile device space, including pushing its Atom and upcoming €œIvy Bridge€ processors into tablets. The company also is aggressively promoting Ultrabooks, very thin and light notebooks that offer the productivity capabilities of traditional laptops and features€”such as instant-on, long battery life and touch-screens€”of tablets. Otellini said there already are 21 Ultrabooks on the market now, and another 100-plus designs from OEMs in the pipeline for this year.

ARM officials have been dismissive of Intel€™s mobile ambitions, saying that the larger chip maker will get some design wins with its €œgood enough€ technology, but that it will have difficulty driving down the power consumption of its chips to make significant inroads into the smartphone and tablet markets.

According to Intel, the XOLO X900 will be powered by a 1.6GHz Atom chips, which will offer Hyper Threading technology, 400MHz graphics capabilities and 1080p high-definition video. It also will include an 8-megapixel camera and a 4.03-inch high-resolution LCD touch-screen. It initially will run the Android Gingerbread operating system, but soon will have an over-the-air upgrade to Android Ice Cream Sandwich. The XOLO X900 will offer up to five hours of 3G browsing, 45 hours of audio and eight hours of talk time, according to Intel.