Review Price £199.99
Orange San Diego
It's taken an age to arrive but finally Intel has successfully turned its processor making skills towards mobile phones, and the first phone to sport the Intel Atom Z2460 processor is intriguingly an Orange branded handset.
Rather than going with a big brand like Samsung or Motorola, Intel has instead partnered with Orange and had a phone produced by the Chinese manufacturer Huawei - well known for being the manufacturer behind many rebranded mobiles.
But enough of the scene setting, what's the phone actually like?
Well, for a handset that costs just £199.99 on PAYG or £15.50pm on contract, it's quite astonishing.
Starting with design, this is perhaps this phone's least accomplished area. It looks okay but manages to fall just the wrong side of utilitarian, with a few slightly clunky looking elements. Nonetheless, you can't go too far wrong with a glossy black glass front and a black soft touch back with nice comfortable rounded corners. the plastic silver strip also looks surprisingly smart.
Intriguingly the back is fixed so you can't remove the battery, so to access the SIM card there's a pop out tray on the right edge. Also here is a rather more welcome feature which is a button for the camera - more on which later - and there's a volume rocker too.
In similar fashion to iPhones, the bottom is where you'll find the microphone and speaker, both of which sit either side of a microHDMI socket - a neat arrangement were there an accompanying dock into which the phone could sit. On the left edge is the microUSB charging socket and up top is the headphone jack.
The first big surprise when handling this phone is the quality of the screen. The IPS LCD panel isn't the biggest or absolute best quality we've seen in terms of viewing angles and colour vibrancy but with a resolution of 1,204 x 600 pixels - packed into its 4in frame it makes for a near perfect (to our minds) balance. It's large enough to make web browsing and typing easy and enjoyable, it's sharp enough to enhance everything you're doing and yet it's small enough that the phone feels comfortable in the hand, not cumbersome like some of the modern behemoths that are so popular.
All told, for a phone of this price, this screen simply annihilates the competition.
Next up on the surprise list is the performance of that Intel chip. Because the phone only runs Android 2.3 it doesn't feel quite as smooth as most Android 4.0 handsets such as the Galaxy S3 and HTC One X but put it to the test and it's the fastest phone on the block. We ran the web browser based benchmark SunSpider and got a score of 1585. That compares to 1956 for the Galaxy S3 (lower is better).
You can feel it too as the browser is incredibly quick to render web pages and feels snappy in use. It's a little early to fully judge yet but on first impression the processor here again looks to wipe the floor with the competition at its price, at the very least.
The third thing that really impresses is the camera. Packing in 8MP, it's on par with the best of the best, and there is 1080p video recording too. What's more you get a 10shot burst mode that fires off that many shots in less than a second.
The interface for the camera isn't all that clever, though, and it seemed a little slow to load so it's certainly not perfect. The results didn't seem any better than any other camera of this calibre either. But, with a proper button on hand to help with self portraits, shots at awkward angles and one handed shots, it's a more complete tool than some of even the most premium phones.
Finishing on something of a negative, though, the overall interface seem pretty lacklustre. Largely this is because it's only running Android 2.3 rather than the newer 4.0, but there are also a few visual tweaks that take the edge off.
However, this is still a very capable Android phone that even though Intel's chip is x86 based rather than ARM based, it should still run most apps on the Android app store. We'll have to take a second much more indepth look to fully get to the bottom of just what will and won't be supported though.
There are a few little things to clear up before passing full judgement on this phone but based on initial impressions and the sheers specs on offer for the price, this phone is set to be a winner. No other phone in this price range comes close to offering the features here, and with Intel claiming it'll last 14 days on standby, it could be a revolution in smartphone battery life too.
Scores In Detail
- Camera Quality
- Screen Quality