Santa Clara is the code name of carrier Orange’s new self-branded smartphone, the first to run the new Intel Atom Medfield processor. As promised, Orange, a division of France Telecom, introduced the phone Feb. 27 at Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona.
The Santa Clara phoneits real name is not known or perhaps not determined yetwill go on sale in France and the United Kingdom this summer. While pricing wasn’t shared, Orange has indicated that the phone is part of a strategy to lure its more reluctant customers over to smartphones. Right now, about 50 percent of its customer base is still using feature phones.
In addition to its 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2460 processor, the Santa Clara comes with a 4-inch, 1,024 by 600 display and an 8-megapixel camera with the ability to shoot 1,080p video, a rapid-fire feature that takes 10 photos in a second, to make sure users get the right shot, and, through a video app, a sort of 360-degree view. Users can tilt and pan and pull and push the video for a better look around.
Orange TV, Orange Gestures, Daily Motion and other Orange services will also be on boardalong with Android 4.0, which the Intel chip is said to play very nicely with.
The Verge calls the Santa Clara light to the point of feeling flimsy and overall rather “unremarkable,” except for that processor. In hands-on tests, the phone reportedly zips through apps and from one function to the next without a hitch. “It’s a pretty insane phone on the brand-new processor,” gushed the site’s reviewer in a video. “Basically, everything on this phone just happens instantly.”
Patrick Remy, Orange’s vice president of devices, has told Bloomberg: “We are very happy about the way it came out. We really wanted to bring in this high-performance, high-speed element.”
That “high-speed element” will likely be the difference between Intel getting through the door of the smartphone market and becoming a true competitor able to compete against Qualcomm, currently the largest producer of chips for phones.
Intel announced in January that Motorola Mobility and Lenovo will each start using its new processors in their phones this year. Motorola phones have traditionally run Texas Instruments processors. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Intel CEO Paul Otellini took the stage with Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha, telling show-goers, “We expect the combination of our companies to break new ground and bring the very best of computing capabilities to smartphones and tablets.”
Also at CES, Lenovo showed off the K800, an Android 4.0-running smartphone with the Intel Medfield technology inside. The phone reportedly felt heavy on the hardware end but snappy on the software side.
Orange, as the first mobile operator to use the new Intel chips, is “getting an exclusive,” according to the Bloomberg report, which added that Orange’s aim is to have its self-branded phones account for 20 percent of sales, up from 2011’s 15 percent.
While fast-growing Chinese brands ZTE and Huawei, as well as Alcatel-Lucent, all manufacture devices for Orange, the Santa Clara was made by lesser-known brand Gigabyte Technology.
In a Feb. 27 statement, Intel additionally announced that Indian handset company Lava will launch the XOLO smartphone, the first Intel technology-based smartphone to arrive in India’s market.