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4/19/2012
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Intel-Based Xolo X900 Android Smartphone: India First

Lava kicked off sales of the Xolo X900, an Android smartphone with an Intel Atom processor inside. It marks Intel's renewed push into the mobile market.

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Intel silicon has shipped in mobile devices before, but the Xolo X900 from India's Lava is a new breed of mobile device for Intel to tackle. It's an Android smartphone, one that aims to tackle the middle- to high-end of the Indian smartphone market. It's also a new beginning for the world's most well-known maker of chips.

The Xolo X900 is based on Intel's Z2460 system-on-a-chip, which will provide a 1.6-GHz Atom engine in addition to a 400-MHz graphics chip. Thanks to the Z2460's 32-nm process, it's power efficient as well as zippy. The X900 boasts a 4-inch LCD display, in addition to an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of built-in storage space, and HSPA+ 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and HDMI.

The X900 will ship with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but Lava says Android 4.0 is coming soon. Lava and Intel say the X900 can surf the Web for five hours and support eight hours worth of voice calls.

The device goes on sale April 23 through the Indian retailer Chroma. It will cost about $420.

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Intel's partnership with Lava was first announced at CES, and then expanded at Mobile World Congress, where France-based network operator Orange said it will sell smartphones based on Intel's Atom family of processors. Lava and ZTE said they plan to bring Intel-based smartphones to the market and Lava's X900 managed to be the first out the door. Intel announced a similar product partnership with Motorola earlier this year. These partnerships give Intel three hardware partners and one operator partner.

It's a start, but Intel has a lot of ground to make up.

Qualcomm and other chip makers have a solid lead in the mobile space with their ARM-based chips, with sales in the hundreds of millions of devices. That success came about through good partnerships among platform providers (in this case, Google), handset makers, and carriers, not because of the silicon inside them.

Intel needs its partners Motorola and ZTE to design compelling handsets that carriers--especially those in the United States--will want to sell. Motorola has had a bumpy ride with Android sales in the last year, and ZTE is barely a blip in the U.S. market (though admittedly it is much larger in Asian markets).

Intel and Motorola were expected to unveil a new Atom-based Android smartphone two months ago. There's no word on what's causing the delay, but Intel needs to get its chips into as many handsets and onto as many retail shelves as possible.

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