Dec 02 AT 8:14 PM Taylor Wimberly 142 Comments

Intel says Android 4.0 ready for their phones, Medfield beats the competition hands down


Will 2012 finally be the year we see an Android phone powered by Intel? We have asked a similar question the last two years, but so far Intel has failed to crack the smartphone market. However, we have noticed a recent change in Intel’s tone and it looks like CES could be their official coming out party.

Before we dig too deep, let me just cut to the latest rumor. Several sources have been telling me that Samsung will launch the first Android phone with Intel-inside and there are signs it could be coming to Sprint.

Just today, Intel came out saying they have made Android 4.0 available to device makers. Agam Shah of PCWorld reports that Intel had Android 4.0 up and running on their latest Atom processor, codenamed Medfield, just a day after Google released the source code. He goes on to say that Intel is working with device makers to fine-tune and optimize the OS for specific devices, but it should be ready in time for the product releases.

Next we have a report from Arik Hesseldahl of AllthingsD that has some new information from Intel CEO Paul Otellini. The piece tries to dispel the myth that Intel’s x86 processors can’t compete with ARM-based processors and it includes some exciting claims. Paul Otellini says that their Medfield processor will beat the competition hands down.

Medfield “smokes the others” in browser performance, when compared to three unnamed phones. It also wins in GLBenchmark (graphics performance) and SunSpider (JavaScript performance). However, Intel admits that in power consumption tests it’s not the best, but not the worst either. “It usually comes in second or third place when compared against smartphones already in the market.”

Rumors of a Medfield phone go back several months. We first reported in July that one of our regular tipsters had played with an Intel phone that they described as “rather svelte.” The project was hush-hush back then and our source wouldn’t reveal the handset maker, but now we are hearing that Samsung has extended their strong partnership with Intel to include smartphones.

Samsung has sourced mobile processors from just about every single semiconductor company out there, so it’s no big surprise they would test the waters with Intel’s Medfield.

Sprint customers should circle Jan. 10th on their calendars.

We have been expecting to see the first Intel phones at Mobile World Congress in late February, but Paul Otellini is giving a big keynote talk at CES on January 10th. Sprint invited us to attend an exclusive event directly following the keynote, so that’s why we are speculating they could be involved with launching the first Intel phone. Normally the carriers like to announce their new devices on the Sunday or Monday of CES, so the Tuesday timing right after Intel’s keynote caught our attention.

CES is just around the corner, so I guess we will find out soon. We played with the Aava Mobile prototype phone that used Intel’s Moorestown processor two years ago at CES, so it would be fitting if Intel finally announces their first design win for a consumer smartphone.

What do you guys think? Is anyone ready for an Android phone with Intel-inside?

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

    Most Tweeted This Week

  • james bricknell

    i think the power consumption is a bit of a problem. 2nd or 3rd is not really helpful when most smartphones only last about 8 hours on high use anyway. so 3rd would put them at what 6 hours maybe?

    i think the OEM’s of the world need to be looking heavily into battery research.

    • stenzor

      Yeah I agree with this. Battery technology hasn’t really come far (relatively) compared to other tech

      • AndroidJunkie

        why don’t they just add a simple solar strip like on those calculators that never die :)

        at least they’re getting more efficient at power usage, being that phones keep getting thinner and faster while hours of use (slowly) improve.

        • Repminister

          Or like one of those no-shake flashlights :D that would be fun, shaking the s*it out a phone :)

        • dfmckay

          Solar cell technology isn’t advance enough to power smart phones, the average wattage on my g2 while its in use is about a watt and it would take a lot more then a strip to power it to get a watt from a solar panel.

        • raminscc

          At the current rate of improvement in processing power if we don’t tap into new battery technology we wont be able to just wait for improvement. I demand new efficiency research in cpus and new tech in batteries!

    • darkhorse166

      Yeah, there’s plenty of research “breakthroughs” that come from universities on battery technology but it seems like none of them have actually made it to market in the past year or two.

      • ablkida

        Yeah the battery thing doesn’t sound so promising. BTW, nice article Taylor.

      • alee

        Basic research can’t be developed into commercial products overnight. It usually takes years, and sometimes decades.

        • Silver

          Exactly. Science and Engineering go hand in hand with economics and finance as well. Something that could be groundbreaking but not financially feasible will usually not go anywhere. However at least the research that comes from it is still extremely useful and could be used to find new breakthroughs that satisfy both the design and financial requirements.

      • thegross1

        There was a recent article where some researchers found a way to make Li ion batteries last 10 times longer.

        • Azaurath

          Yea, but how long until they are perfected for mass production. Probably a few years away at least.

        • thechad

          yeah it was interesting. all they did to make them last longer was drill a lot of holes in them. I wonder if i drill a bunch of small holes in my battery if it will last longer. some one try it and let me know how it goes. :-)

    • desean

      I agree with this. If Intel wants to overtake ARM, it has to win both in terms of performance and battery consumption.

      • n25philly

        True, but is they can get one out of two on the first try that’s a good start

    • Sean the Electrofreak

      I did a comparo on Atom and ARM about a year or so ago, and at that time, Atom processors were only 1/6th as power efficient as an ARM processor.

      It was a rough comparison because it’s hard to compare compute performance between x86 and ARM since ARM focuses heavily on their processing and instructions being “burst-friendly” to allow computing to be completed quickly so that the processor can return to a low-power idle state where it consumes almost no power.

      Atom had much higher idle power consumption at the time, so I’d be interested to know if 2nd or 3rd place is for when Intel’s processor is under constant load or if it includes idle time.

      They had to have made some VERY significant improvements to catch up with ARM in the last year, particularly with ARM’s big.LITTLE technology (combining performance processors and efficiency processors together to leverage one or the other depending upon the need) in the pipeline, and Tegra 3 SoCs with the companion core already in production.

    • Michael C.

      I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… I’d gladly have had to deal with an extra 5mm of thickness on my Nexus S in exchange for a battery that lasts 2 full days.

      • redraider133

        so would i. I would take a phone as thick as say the rezound if the battery would last much longer. I do not need a paper thin phone. Battery life> super thin IMO

        • kentrburton

          I will second that. I think its a well worth trade off. Longer usage vs Thin. I will take longer usage all day long

    • aranea

      I agree that battery is the key. The current dual-core CPU’s are doing a really good job. The problem is the phone hardly lasts more than 24 hours.

    • EwanRGR

      I think it’s more than that, though. If you improve the battery’s, then the Intel chips might last long enough, but everything else would now last longer as well. So you still have the question of what the Intel chip gives you that other ARM chips don’t? As far as saying they “smoke” the competition, you have to wonder the comparison point. If they’re comparing to a Tegra 2, then even a Tegra 3 smokes the Tegra 2. I doubt they could be comparing to a Tegra 3, so all I can see them really having an advantage in is in running Windows 8. Which will then do even MORE damage to their power consumption…

      Sorry, but I just don’t see where Intel makes a strong selling point unless they’re willing to compete on price. And that could be an awfully expensive race to the bottom.

    • Jeremy Johns

      I think it has something to do with the same reason we can’t get off of gas use vehicles. Yeah there is hybrid and whatever but really in 2011 with all the advancements we have made in so many areas the fact that we cannot power a vehicle with anything other than gas and not have the vehicle look like a sped car is because gas companies control car builders.

      Maybe the same is true for the battery creators of the world.

      I love a good conspiracy theory.

  • stenzor

    Did anyone else hear the Intel jingle after reading this article? Damn you clever Intel marketing!

    • dl22

      Makes me miss the days of being excited about desktop processors! I will never forget the day I saw an add for a 1Ghz machine.


    The more companies that adopt the better for android and its users

    • Aladdin

      Yeah the more competition, the better

  • darkhorse166

    I’ll believe Intel when I see it. But yes, the battery life is definitely an issue already with current smartphones and if they don’t include a decent battery in an Intel-based smartphone it’d be borderline unusable in practice.

    So the question is, who’s going to be the first to hack full-blown Windows/OS X/x86 Linux on it? :-P

    • savedr


    • YesMan

      If Intel’s performance benchmarks are as competitive as they say (considering current leading smartphones have dual-core 1.5GHz ARM), then I can definitely imagine Windows 8 (which is being optimized for mobile devices anyways) getting hacked on within a week of the first Intel phone release (or the Win 8 release, whichever comes last).

    • rmcsc

      Hmmm, I can see the headlines now: Samsung’s sixth generation Galaxy Tab: dual-boot Windows 9 and Android 8.0; would’ve also ran OS 11.2 if Apple hadn’t switched to their own line of processors.

    • xkfrat

      but it looks like ARM is still more efficient battery wise.

  • Andy in Indy

    Intel support for older graphics is still lacking. It was fine so long as you don’t want to use existing (especially older) boards.

    • darkhorse166

      Oh god, Intel graphics drivers … *shudders*

      Intel should have experience with Imagination Tech graphics parts – after all, that’s what’s being used in their integrated graphics. I’d guess that’s what’s in Medfield. Unfortunately, Intel have always had pretty shoddy graphics drivers, and unless they make an effort to fix it here (which they might have), it’s just going to be terrible.

  • roamdeus

    2012 is gona b crazy can’t wait but I think its not gona b intels

  • charliethesuperturtle

    If intel is really coming in,
    That means amd will 2 :D I’ll take either :D

  • BigCiX

    Atom processors = budget computers.

    • rmcsc

      Budget computers = bad performance for power users.

    • n25philly

      True, but they work well for HTPC builds and NAS boxes. If your expectations aren’t too high or is you put a SSD in the system they aren’t bad for basic stuff at all. If you are getting an atom computer for do photoshop or play recent games you are doing it wrong.

  • mikeytusa

    Yeah the battery consumption thing is definitely a big issue. But competition is a good thing and Intel has a proven record of innovation.

  • Lucian Armasu

    I wouldn’t put too much faith into what Intel says here. It’s not the first time they’ve made big claims like these and failing to deliver, so I wouldn’t get too excited over anything they say until there’s a shipping product in the market that we can test ourselves. And even if Atom beats the current competition in single threaded apps, I’d still rather get a GS3 with a dual core 2 Ghz Cortex A15 chip, which should be more powerful. Also, this Atom chip will be single core, which means multi-tasking will suffer. Might not mean much for a phone, but for a tablet it does, just like it does for a PC.

    • n25philly

      I just hoped they learned from the rest of the market how to do a launch.

      1) Finish product and have it ready to launch showing it off to everyone that wants it and getting them excited.

      2) Wait 6 months

      3) Start hyping your next new best thing

      4) Release it in Europe and nicely tell the rest of the world to suck it

      5) Wait 6-8 more months while working with US carriers on a way to ruin it with a custom skin that uses up at least half the system resources

  • natthompson72

    Just imagine… what would’ve the Galaxy Nexus had been like with an i7 inside?

    *jizz face*

    • msgnyc

      A dead battery after a 20 minute phone call? =P

      • natthompson72

        Hey, a man can have hopes and dreams can’t he? :(

        • msgnyc

          okok, I’ll give you an hour talk time, No LTE tho ;)

          • natthompson72

            but seriously, I CAN NOT WAIT till the day we can be on LTE and heavy use for more than 24-hours!

      • alee

        You could probably also use it to keep your hands warm . . . at the South Pole. Or to light a fire, for that matter.

        • sgb101

          i think your thinking of the Prescott pentium 4.

  • FutureShock

    Intel has been talking about attempting to enter the smartphone market for a while. I’ll believe it when I see it. Intel needs to put up, or shut up.

  • Alex Pena

    Pretty Sweet! Can’t wait to see what becomes of this.

  • jathak

    Looks interesting. I can’t wait to see how Intel-powered phones compete against ARM phones.

  • dandroid4g

    Core i7 :) But think of the battery :O

    • mimogear

      Baby! Wow! This would be amazing @[email protected] Let’s add some type of liquid cooling for safety.

  • GUI_Center

    Adding another big brand to the android name? Hmm this could do very well for android, or it could create even more issues because there are already way too many phones being released close together.

  • Bigos78

    I’m interested to see what Intel can do with Android. I just hope it doesn’t cause more fragmentation. (i.e. Apps like Glow ball that looks sweet on Tegra 3 not being compatible with anything Intel or vice versa). I want to be able to have the best apps available on Android no matter the processor in my device.

    • msgnyc

      Thats one thing that didnt even cross my mind. You have the Tegra Zone, The Playstation Suite next Intel will have their own little corner to hide in. XD

    • jefflarkin

      This is exactly what I was thinking. Why would a manufacturer want to put an Atom in their phone and make it the only phone that can’t use the vast majority of apps in the marketplace? I’m sure intel would throw a lot of money at major developers (ie. Rovio) to have some of the big apps available in their corner of the market place, but unless they plan to emulate ARM, their devices are going to be at a huge disadvantage for apps.

    • CoatedMoose

      This is a great point. Already there are problems that certain apps only run on devices with Tegra processors, and not on anything else. I can’t imagine how much more complicated that would make things from both a user (I bought a game that only runs on tegra, so every device I get from now on has to be a tegra) and a developers standpoint (how many more device specific bugs will show up).

  • TinTin

    Sweet! I think by 2013 they will come out with a really competitive chip for android

  • msgnyc

    Itll be interesting for sure. More competition in the market to help all of the manufacturer work that much harder in improving the performance and battery life these cpus bring to the table. Should be an interesting 2012

  • Chin-Khai Tang

    ARM development tools are pretty expensive, and I believe the ARM processor IPs are even more. So I do hope that Intel can break the ARM dominance in mobile processor.

  • myandroid99

    i want to see an android device from intel especially if its powered by the atom

  • Dan13

    Hooray! More competition to make mobile computing even better!
    Hey, maybe this will mean an android-powered laptop. That would be interesting.

    • Luke Haviland

      I don’t think we’ll see an android powered laptop.
      with devices like the transformer (prime) why do we need laptops?
      these tablets are getting stronger and stronger with the same uses as a laptop plus more portability.
      I want to see more advances in tablets, I think laptops are an endangered species.

      • eneskay

        Were you using a tablet posting this comment?

  • Luke Haviland

    An Intel powered Samsung phone?

    That thing would be unstoppable.

  • rkumarfun

    And amazon is cancelling orders???? :(

  • orangestrat

    It’ll be cool to see how intel does when they’re not the top dog, I hope they bring some serious innovations!

    • thegross1

      Like AMD

  • mimogear

    OOOooo more mobile CPU competition. Nvidia, Samsung, TI, and now Intel all fighting for mobile CPU domination! With benchmarks like that things are gonna get spicy!!

    • tigervyh

      yep… all good! For us consumers

  • cxandroid

    The more the merrier!
    Ho Ho Ho,Merry Christmas!

    • tigervyh

      ho ho ho ho!!! lolz…

  • mugurelu

    I just cant wait!!!

  • tigervyh

    Personally, I can’t wait… all good as this should bring down prices and also bring up performance!

  • e36bmer

    Intel is late to this party…. lets see if they can catch up to the fun.

  • papakyriazis

    That’s great. Now what we need is a multitouch (more than 2 points !) monitor.
    Think Playing Angry Birds on a 23 inch Multitouch Monitor …

  • willieyo

    i love intel!

  • Mekerz

    Unlike ARM and the OEMs that use their designs, the average consumer knows the Intel brand which could be a very powerful marketing lever for Intel.

  • Yathushan

    I think it is just about time that Intel got into the game. I think it will force them to be more energy efficient with their processors hopefully an i5 equivalent on its way??

  • kusic

    I guess Intel just can’t beat power conception of arm cpus. And that is going to be important now when mobile cpus are just fast enough to focus on battery life mainly.

  • seeklerhun

    intel definitely knows what they are doing. Intel CPUs will beat ARMs in time.

  • frusak

    U can say allot we will have to wait and see
    for me they still getting the learning curve

  • SuperAndroid

    I still won’t believe it till I see it.

  • lekky

    Battery should be the next focus really..

  • superboriqua

    I wouldn’t buy a phone that the battery only lasts 6hrs, unless it came with 2 batteries

  • Zhi Hao

    This will be interesting. Single core Medfield vs 1.5Ghz quad core Cortex A9s vs 2Ghz dual core Cortex A15s.

    Although really, I just want a faster GPU. Since Intel licenses PowerVR (and is most likely a Rogue licensee), Intel may just have a lead in graphics.

    Yes, I know. The irony!

  • J-Man

    Anyone betting on an Intel tablet next year?

  • honourbound68

    screen shot or it didn’t happen

  • droid

    ooh its going to be an interesting year! question is will there be an intel phone to take on the galaxy s3??? prob not ;)

  • n25philly

    Now we are putting Android on an entirely different architecture? Good thing we got that whole fragmentation thing fixed already…

  • donger

    interesting and exciting at the same time.

  • Gurka123

    Like for a like!

  • ndub21

    More Android choices! (As if we didn’t already have enough choices) I openly welcome anything that will increase Android’s market share.

    Better watch out though Intel, because I’m sure Apple will come up with some bogus way you are violating their parents and sue. Seems to be an increasing trend with them…

  • mikesuds

    Would love to see more options in the CPU field for Android phones!

  • carlosestremera

    yes…bring it

    • carlosestremera

      dual boot =) win 8/android

  • redraider133

    It will be interesting to see what they can produce. Hopefully they aren’t a big drain on battery like snap dragons are. More competition is always a good thing.

  • pdowling

    Sorry, AMD fan Intel. Oh, and Verizon

  • Popple3

    I like the sound of this. I’d love something like a Transformer Prime, with an x86 processor, dual booting Android and Windows 8, and just completely replace my MacBook with it.

  • tequilya

    Sounds like Intel may catch up on performance just in time… to completely miss the boat on power saving features.

  •!/profile.php?id=583695634&ref=profile rahuly2k7

    Oh this will be so cool to have Intel chip in our Android phones… I am so excited!!!!

  • Tal

    I highly doubt their capability to win over the competition. Even if they have something workable now – by the time its productized the others will bring something even more amazing. Though I have nothing against Intel, and would love to get their products if proven good.

  • bjtheone

    Given that performance is nit really an issue with the latest generation of arm processors and that Kate radius are power hits I can’t see a more power hungry could going over well. If it does not last a say under normal use it is useless to me.

    • bjtheone

      I hate the auto correct in my ice cream sandwitch keyboard. Point was with lte radios being power hogs, I don’t need a power hungry CPU with slightly higher performance. I need longer battery life.

  • gagz

    so finally we’ll see an intel powered android, wonder how thats gonna be!

  • MoSDeeb

    Im curious about the graphics performance; has this been sgown with real world trsts?

  • wild

    They’re promising two years :)

  • arminla

    I’m looking forward to these phones!n

  • raminscc

    If Intel can rule the mobile space like they rule the desktop space it would be great. Drive up competition, give us better phones, and most of all I can find a Intel inside logo and hack it to say Linux Inside!!! Can’t wait!!

  • phaet2112

    Compared against the Bionic and my 5 year old BlackJack….

  • Dev-CreativeReach

    It would be nice to run full OpenGL games on tablets with Intel CPU’s

  • goodevilgenius

    This is cool and all, but some apps aren’t pure Java (like VLC, for example), and if they’re compiled to ARM, they won’t run on x86 Android. This might not go well for Intel, but it’s good to see them try. I’m always in favor of more choice/competition.

  • minimage

    My main concern would be app compatibility. I have a MIPS-powered tablet that won’t run Angry Birds, Citrix Receiver or a lot of other things my ARM-powered phone will. What would make me think I wouldn’t run into the same issues with an Intel tablet?

  • spoon201

    We dont really need another processor. What we need is better battery life and a more efficent processor. So my level of excitement here is low.

  • humidity

    I think it’ll be interesting to see what Intel brings to the table. I hope to see even more powerful CPUs with less power consumption.

  • ccn_cristi

    So they say it can run Android…we know that! Google tv runs on Intel, not a big surprise here.
    It came out first in benchmarks, they didn’t reveal against what phones…aka irrelevant.
    It came out 2nd in battery time…Even first and it still isn’t enough.
    Right now there is no reason to choose an Intel powered phone over an ARM one.
    What will they offer that others don’t have ? Games, Intel Zone ? :)
    Maybe it can run windows 8 ? But so will ARM.

    The only good thing is more competition and better compatibility with x86 architecture for the future.

  • R N

    Windows 8 + intel on mobile will rock!!!!

  • breinhar

    What good is a processor that is 2nd or 3rd in battery with CURRENT processors when this will come out next year when there will be newer and more efficient processors that will push it much farther back than 2nd or 3rd. When you are debuting something new in the future you don’t strive to be the same as those in the past.

  • IntlGrizzly

    Do we really need another chip maker in the market? I am very skeptical that it would hands down beat the competition. However if that’s true, then bring it on.

  • ishbuggy

    I don’t know about this. Can they really keep battery consumption down to ARM levels? I think i’ll believe it when I see it.

  • BillyMaysHere

    at leats we will have some variety

  • mingchan06

    I love amd processors for my desktop. If intel can make a cpu that has a lower power consumption i would be happier.

  • falvey6607


  • jetman123

    I think Intel stepping in will really raise the standard for chipsets in these next Gen androids. til then I still got the OG 4G

  • poopster

    The developer community is gonna go crazy over this. Dual booting windows and android. OH YEA!

    • cheeseasaurus

      Im most interested in seeing the degree of source we get. Using a G2X its clear NVIDIA can dance around source all day long, I’m excited at the prospect of Intel entering the scene, but I would like to know how Intel is going to fair with providing developers what they need to get distros like CM running.

  • drwevil

    Too little too late I think…..

  • dafi81

    the more competition the better!

    • aykutb

      yes you’re correct to some extent,friendly competition is good for the users but when the guys take it more serious than they should, sh.. hits the fan, look at apple vs everyone else.

  • aykutb

    Hope this doesn’t bring another platform issue that happened with tegra devices. Y U NO MAKE APPS COMPATIBLE!

  • sylar

    Well it will be interesting to see how this all turns out.

  • ACR

    This will just bring more fragmentation to Android. More SoC= more fragmentation.

  • MJM128

    For a smartphone one of the most important things is battery life. If intel can’t keep up with that, they aren’t going to do so well after people get their hands on them.

  • JonJJon

    Very tempting to wait for an Intel powered phone as my next upgrade would have to be competitively priced tho

  • Louis Atu

    I am anxious to see what kind of the phone they will come up with. ie, design, hard ward and all the other good stuff.

  • Paul

    Well OpenPeak’s OpenTablet run’s Android and has Intel chips. Also Cisco’s Cius tablet has a Intel chip in it and runs Android as well. But I thought I recently read that Android x86 was still having issues with Intel x86, hardware acceleration wasn’t working or something but it did for AMD chips?

    • John

      I think Intel has a long way to go before they can break into the Android ecosystem. Ever try to install anything from the market on an intel based device? Half the applications don’t run even though they’re java and supposed to be platform neutral. ARM has a strong foothold. The performance of the Cius is lacking as well but it’s not “Medfield”. Maybe Cisco’s Cius 2 will be Medfield based (If they’re dead-set on Intel) and have ICS and then maybe it’d stand a chance but who knows.

  • Robert Jakiel

    Meh. I remember when Intel was showing off some of it’s Android tablets at Computex this year running Honeycomb. The performance on these things were horrendous. Fact of the matter is this. OMAP5, Exynos 5xxx, Exynos 44xx, Tegra 2, Tegra 3 and Snapdragon S4 dual and quad cores are all here or coming withing the next few months. Let’s not forget some of the folks that have EXCELLENT SoC’s but haven’t been seen commercially. ZiiLabs Jaguar ZMS-20 and ZMS-40 and Freescale iMX6 quad core parts.

    Intel has a LOT to prove and even more to overcome in order to gain any traction. They have ignored this sector of the industry too long and are now scrambling to play catch up. From the looks of it it may be too little too late. Only time will tell but assuming ARMv8 stays on track Intel will be fighting an uphill battle for a long time.

  • Kanishk Singh

    Even though they have the muscle power, tablet and mobile processor should be more power efficient. Still a long way to prove that and get the confidence of phone manufacturers.

  • antfelici

    Roll it out

  • jimmy_bones