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Review of the First Medfield Phone 66

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the gadgets-that-look-awfully-similar dept.
Google85 writes "Beginning April 23rd, Intel, through Lava International, began selling the Xolo X900 smartphone in India for $420, Anandtech has just published a review of the smartphone which runs Android on x86 and uses binary translation as the mitigation for both libraries and NDK applications that haven't yet been ported to x86."
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Review of the First Medfield Phone

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  • When push comes to shove, they make more money on PC CPUs. When they have a choice of making a wafer of high-margin vs low-margin CPUs, who do you think will win? Don't be surprised if there are major supply problems every time the PC market takes an uptick.

  • by smi.james.th (1706780) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @10:56AM (#39794843)
    Am I the only one wondering why they're trying to make money off a $420 phone in India of all places? Surely that's a better market for cheaper, sturdier feature phones, like Nokias for example...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You'd be surprised just how large and healthy the cell phone market really is in India. Everyone there has a cell, from grannies to temple priests to guys on the street pulling carts of produce. Among the youth, smart phones are status symbols just like they are in North America, except probably even more people have them.

      I bet India is a vastly larger market than you think.

    • by jonnythan (79727)

      Yeah, no one in India really has any money.

    • by dwater (72834)

      > Nokias
      ?? There are plenty of expensive Nokia smartphones too (and some are flimsy too).

    • Re:Why.. India? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by vlm (69642) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @11:07AM (#39795003)

      30% of 300 million in the USA is 90 mil
      They're poor in India despite sending most of our middle class jobs there and also to China, so we'll give them only 1/3 of the market penetration
      10% of 1.2 billion in India is 120 mil
      Looks like India is a better market than the US, or at least as more theoretical customers.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        you'd be stupid to not place it more on the lines of 5% or even less for the india figure.

        the point is though, that whoever pushed this brand and phone had sales channels in india and india does have a sizable portion of tech geeks with money to burn on new platforms.

        • by vlm (69642)

          I based it on some wikipedia estimate of about 10% in India being in the middle class and about 30% in the US being in the middle class, and the middle class being the target market for a non-iphone smartphone.

        • the point is though, that whoever pushed this brand and phone had sales channels in india and india does have a sizable portion of tech geeks with money to burn on new platforms.

          Except that most of the brands Intel has tied up with are popular in India primarily for selling ultra cheap chinese rebranded phones
          Noone really buys phones worth more than USD 50 (100 at best) from them

    • We are FLOODED with feature phones here
      Need more stuff in the high end range which is typically delayed by 2 - 6 months compared to US, if ever released
      The cheapest Nokia costs less than USD20, other brands have even cheaper models
    • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @11:16AM (#39795149) Journal
      The population of India is huge. About 25% of them live below the poverty line. And another 25% have barely enough income to survive. 500 million such people drown out the other 500 million people with some disposable income. The top 25% of India are solidly middle class by American standards. They have steady income, are willing to spend humongous portions of their pay on their children's education. The predatory education industry makes more money than you can imagine. Anyway the richest of the rich live in a kind of opulence that defies comprehension. One guy named Mukesh Ambani built a private residence in downtown Mumbai for the cost of some 1 billion US dollars. It is a 25 story high rise as a private residence! Then some astrologer dude told him such wanton flaunting of wealth would attract the evil eye, and the owner decided not to live there!!!
    • It looks like a total iPhone rip off.

      Maybe they're targeting it at people who want iPhones but cannot afford them?

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @11:17AM (#39795163) Homepage

    Is this a first? Premiering a phone in India?

    Going forward, as Chindia [google.com] rises in income, is this going to become the new norm? With the huge markets in China and India (even as a fraction of their total populations), will they become the global arbiters of taste?

    Consider the case of 1920x1200 monitors. They're harder to find than a girl on Slashdot. They've all been replaced by 1920x1080 monitors because of economy of scale issues. So ... 15 years down the line, will 350 million people each in China and India dwarf the gadget markets in the US? (Yeah, I know, the mini-countries of Europe. But, again, two countries, two markets, hundreds of millions of people vs 35 markets.)

    • Is this a first? Premiering a phone in India?

      No, Nokia does launch some of their absolute cheapest range in India exclusively IIRC

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Performance is roughly on par with the Cortex-A9 SOC's released a year ago, accounting for the clockspeed advantage. Compared to Krait, it's behind in performance, and likely battery efficiency based on the One S. Outside on Win8 tablets, I don't see any compelling reason for using this...unless it's cheaper than the ARM equivalent, which I don't think is the case.
    • by Bert64 (520050)

      What process are the chips built on? Last i heard intel were trying to stay at least one process shrink ahead of arm in order to make their chips competitive...

  • by GauteL (29207) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @11:23AM (#39795237)

    It is not amazing, but it is competitive. Battery life is average, performance is average. GPU performance is currently a bit below average, but this is a solid first attempt. It clearly proves that x86 CPUs can compete on battery life.

    The important question is this: why would you pick Intel over the established Android ARM cortex architecture? It is possible that price and Intel's famous production and supply can win over some manufacturers, but you'd expect something a bit more amazing was required to gain a considerable market share.

  • Why didn't they just put Windows XP on it? Then it would be *really* useful and have one clear advantage over every other phone. A simple dialler application wouldn't be hard to write to make phone calls. (Linux is better technically, but lots of people are tied to Windows for particular applications and would love to have something more portable than a netbook to run them. In my case, it's a VPN client used to connect to work.) I know Intel wants to push x86 as an embedded platform, and Android is kin
    • by mitzampt (2002856)
      Except there aren't really apps for that kind of screen in Windows... Same goes for Linux DE-s. They used Android because there are apps for that kind of screen and input type. Intel wants to get a grip of the mobile market so I guess it's natural to promote Android x86 and start from there up. Do you see a better alternative?
    • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @12:04PM (#39795861) Homepage

      "Why didn't they just put Windows XP on it? Then it would be *really* useful ..."

      Sir, I was taking a sip of coffee when I read your post and you now owe me 1 keyboard.

    • by ArhcAngel (247594)

      Why didn't they just put Windows XP on it? Then it would be *really* useful and have one clear advantage over every other phone.

      You mean like THIS? [xpphone.com]

      "Tons of thousands of internet application"

    • It is my understanding that the 'medfield' platform is missing some legacy details(like a PCI bus, or something that looks like one) without which XP, and possibly later versions, simply won't run.

      It's an x86; but it isn't really a member of the venerable 'IBM compatible' wintel family...
      • by Ed Avis (5917)
        Good point. The phone could run Virtualbox or VMWare, and XP inside that. Come to think of it, it's suprising low-end PCs like netbooks don't so the same - it could cut hardware costs.
    • by unixisc (2429386)
      Not XP, but this is precisely the type of phone that would be perfect for Windows RT. Not the Nokia Lumia 900.
  • An x86 pocket PC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nephridium (928664) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @11:52AM (#39795689)
    So it looks the performance and battery life are on par with the current crop of Android phones, but no one has mentioned the main advantage of the Intel device: binary compatibility with x86 architecture, i.e. tons of software that already exists. So there is huge potential of this being the first phone able to run windows and linux binaries by side-loading Debian/Ubuntu with Wine/Virtualbox.

    A 1.6GHz Atom should be enough to run Windows XP sufficiently fast, imagine using all your favorite desktop apps on your phone, the screen's not too shabby either with 1024x600. Sure, most won't be optimized for touch input, but that trade-off is worth it for this kind of flexibility. Apps with source code can have their touch-friendliness added, for those that really require a mouse and/or keyboard, those could be added via Bluetooth (or USB?). I see no reason why it wouldn't be able to run apps like desktop Firefox/Chrome (with touch-input extensions), Gimp/Photoshop, MS Office, VLC, maybe even XBMC, or games like Warcraft/Starcraft titles, Counter strike or Quake (I was really missing the Quake3 benchmarks in TFA ;)

    Connect it to a monitor and use it as a *real* PC that fits in your pocket and you can bring anywhere - how cool is that?
    • The screen is way too small for Windows. I mean, yeah, 1024*600, but keep in mind that it is only 3-4 inches across. Your fingernails will hate you.
    • Argh, coming from the N900 I forgot for a second that Linux apps, due to lack of X-Server in Android, are run through localhost VNC, which basically rules out hardware 3D acceleration. Still, all the standard "productivity" apps should still run sufficiently fast. Here's hoping for a Meego port for this phone (which should be able to run 3D accelerated binaries).
      • by knarf (34928)

        There is a (real) X-server for Android now, search the market for it. It goes by the prozaic name of 'X server'...

        • Sounds promising, though it's apparently implemented in Java which doesn't bode to well for the performance, especially when considering 3D acceleration for games. Might be sufficient for streaming apps like youtube though. I can't try it out myself right now, but maybe someone can get it running with chrooted Debian/Ubuntu and post some results. The app's Google market webpage [google.com] says it can run remote X applications, though I believe running them on localhost shouldn't be a problem either.
          • by oakgrove (845019)
            I have a Xoom running Ubuntu in a chroot and have been fiddling with it since it first went up a couple of months ago. It works for very basic applications like xeyes and xterm but it's missing too many X extensions to run practically anything else. I test it out every so often in hope though. I will say that the performance for what does work absolutely stomps any vnc solution I've tried so far.
    • by Bert64 (520050)

      The ability to run x86 linux binaries isn't all that useful, the vast majority of linux software is open source and is just a compile away from arm. The arm port of debian has pretty much all the same packages available for it as the x86 version.

      Firefox, chromium, gimp, vlc, xbmc, quake etc already run on arm, although on a touchscreen device people generally run touchscreen specific versions because the mouse/keyboard ui would be difficult to use.

      There is already at least one arm based phone that has a doc

    • imagine using all your favorite desktop apps on your phone

      No thanks, that would suck. The success of iPhone followed by Android shows that people want new software (or at least software with a new UI) suited to the form factor. In any case, my favourite desktop apps now consist of a web browser, and ... um. An IDE? Good luck using that on a phone.

    • by carou (88501)

      Apps with source code can have their touch-friendliness added

      Apps with source code don't need binary x86 compatability.

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