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Android Cellphones Handhelds Intel United Kingdom

Motorola's First Intel-Based Handset Launches In UK 64

Posted by timothy
from the perhaps-it-could-skipped-across-the-pond dept.
New submitter lookatmyhorse writes "As promised, Google's Motorola unit has released its first Intel-powered smartphone. The Razr i is based on a mid-range model sold in the U.S. that features an ARM-based Snapdragon processor. Motorola said the change of chip meant improved camera performance. However, it has also meant Google's Chrome browser is not installed on the device. Intel recently cut its sales forecasts citing weaker demand. Although it dominates PC chip sales, it is a niche player in the smart device sector. The handset is Motorola's first to feature an Intel processor; its existing smartphone partners — ZTE, Lenovo, Lava, and Gigabyte — are all relatively minor smartphone forces in Western markets. So, Intel's tie-up with Google — which also makes the Android system — is widely seen as its most significant effort to crack the market to date. The handset will be offered in the UK, France, Germany and Latin America."
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Motorola's First Intel-Based Handset Launches In UK

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  • So many problems... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @10:01AM (#41374367) Journal

    1. Motorola using an intel processor?!? (ok, so it's really Motorola Mobility which is really motoroogle, but still...)

    2. A Google phone without Chrome?!?

    • Apparently Chrome can be downloaded, which is a damn good thing because the default Android browser is pretty unimpressive(ie. the 'play' store won't flag it as incompatible with the device); but the Chrome built for Android apparently has some ARM-based optimizations or assumptions that make it less than it might be on x86, TFA isn't specific about what they are.

      It's a trifle odd, though, given that Google certainly spends a fair amount of time polishing Chrome for x86 on Windows, OSX, Linux, and their own

      • by hattig (47930)

        I guess that the Android version of Chrome will JIT the Javascript into native ARM code, but when running on Intel it will be a slow interpreted codepath instead.

        • Seems plausible. I don't doubt that there is something wrong with it, if they aren't shipping by default(since Chrome is superior to the Android default, and it isn't as though Google is going to try to block it for being 3rd party or anything), I'm just a bit surprised that Intel's efforts to push into phone territory didn't include an effort to get at least high-profile Android components working nice and smoothly on x86, which is something that they could have started working on well before the silicon m

      • by Coisiche (2000870)

        Why download Chrome for Android when you can download Opera Mini?

        • by DrXym (126579)
          Because Opera Mini is a glorified remote picture viewer, not a proper web browser. Sometimes it has its uses, such as on low bandwidth or expensive data rates, but the experience can be quite poor on JS heavy sites. A more appropriate suggestion would be Dolphin Mini which is a wrapper around Webkit but provides a nicer interface. Or if space is not an issue Firefox, Dolphin full or Opera.
        • Because you want your tabs to sync with your desktop, and that runs Chrome.

    • by ravenscar (1662985) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @10:21AM (#41374577)

      According to TFA you can still install Chrome from the Play store (which is what most Android users do since Chrome is not installed by default on most Android devices). The one thing Chrome users with the Intel chip will lack is hardware accelerated page rendering.

      I'm not sold on this chip, but I do like to see competition in the mobile CPU segment.

  • by kriston (7886) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @10:02AM (#41374371) Homepage Journal

    I don't think I was the only one hoping for x86-compatible instead of yet again another ARM-based processor.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Cool, you've got your x86 compatible phone. Now what are you going to do on it that requires x86?

    • by kriston (7886)

      Wait a second, the article states ARM-based SnapDragon and then states Atom.

      Which is it?

      • by hattig (47930)

        The European model (Razr i) is based around an Intel Atom at 2GHz with two threads via SMT.

        The US model (Razr M) is based around the Qualcomm ARMv7 Snapdragon - dual-core at 1.5GHz.

    • by rcs1000 (462363)

      Err: this is an x86 Atom. Of course, it's running Android, so good luck getting your x86 binaries on there...

      • chroot /Removeable/Debian-x86/

        apt-get update

        apt-get install.

        It's how I get ARMhf binaries on my tablet and phone. Why shouldn't it work on the x86 phone?

        • x86 linux binaries shouldn't be any big deal. It'll be interesting to see if anybody manages to get anything running remotely adequately under WINE, which is something that would have been wholly impractical on ARM; but might be possible on this thing. (If memory serves, these very-low-power atoms are deviant in some way that makes at least older Windows kernels freak out; but are x86 compatible from the perspective of programs that don't try anything seriously retro, like attempting to talk to the parallel

          • I don't see much point getting anything to run in Wine on a smartphone. Now running Wine, or even VirtualBox one day, on a tablet - that might have some uses.

  • Motorola said the change of chip meant improved camera performance. However, it has also meant ...

    The battery will only last 1/4 as long. Whoops.

    Pretty soon smartphones will be just like old fashioned "cordless" phones where unless you're actively using it in your hand, its in the charger.

    • Yes, that seems to be the trend and I wonder why. It would be easy to put a killer battery in a phone by changing the form factor back to something like this [goo.gl] instead of making phones smaller and smaller. Surely there must be other people like me who don't mind a larger phone if it means significantly longer battery life?

      • by Pieroxy (222434)

        I vote in. I'd take an iPhone 50% thicker with doubled battery life over the current one any day.

        • by Alioth (221270)

          If you don't mind a thicker iPhone there are external battery packs you can get that clip to the back.

          • by Pieroxy (222434)

            If you don't mind a thicker iPhone there are external battery packs you can get that clip to the back.

            Which is about 50% as efficient as a native battery would be, not mentioning it does cripple your ability to dock your phone, use a case or any other cool thing you do with the accessories designed for your phones.

    • Intel has previously released a 1.6Ghz chip that is at least somewhat similar(possibly worse, I don't know how much improvement there has been between that one and this 2Ghz model). It didn't feature in any phones of particular interest, a few mid-ish range ones on non-US carriers; but benchmarks suggested that it was pretty much even, in performance and battery life, to ARM phones in the dual 1.5Ghz processor range...

      It does seem that the 'smartphone' category has been pegged at "Well, one working day of u

      • by Anonymous Coward

        BBC says 20 hours between charges. They're competing against an iPhone 5 which is thinner and ten times longer battery life.

        You say it's comparable performance to ARM dual core, but I don't see any evidence from you. This is not IBM, you don't get to sell people a 25 MIPS mainframe pretend it's superfast. They'll benchmark it. It's unlikely a single core CISC processor will be faster than a dual core RISK.

        Intel needs to up its game.

        • Here [engadget.com] is a review of one of the phones based on the 1.6Ghz atoms, with some benchmarks and battery life testing. A bit of googling around for that model will yield more of the same.

          I'm not really interested in getting into a flamewar about a device category I don't even own an example of; but all the benchmarks I've read indicate that the 1.6Ghz single-core atom is basically equivalent to a dual 1.5Ghz ARM. Not bleeding edge(their GPU, especially, is an older part); but neither substantially slower nor subst

        • Are you claiming that iPhone lasts for 100 hours before charges? Unless you leave it in standby most of the time, that's hardly believable.

        • RISK, as in the game?
    • by poetmatt (793785)

      The battery will only last 1/4 as long.

      Whoa, let's not get so optimistic! It's also substantially overclocked on medfield! You'll be lucky if this thing has better better life than the original G1.

  • So, Intel's tie-up with Google â" which also makes the Android system â" is widely seen as its most significant effort to crack the market to date.

    Uhhhh.. except Intel has also been announcing processors that they're saying (if you can believe it, which I don't) won't work with Android. IF you believe Intel, then this phone is a dead end and will have no market which provides binary-compatible software.

    The release of this phone is analogous to an MPAA member releasing a movie. If anyone buys

  • by evilviper (135110) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @10:27AM (#41374641) Journal

    Android is an ARMv7 platform, just like Windows is x86, no matter how hard anyone tries to change it.

    With x86 Android, all the CPU-intensive apps, WON'T RUN. They mention Chrome, but Firefox is also out. Non-trivial games won't run, as they're all native ARMv7. I know I make extensive use of emulators like MAME and others on my phone, but not if it's missing an ARMv7 CPU.

    Multimedia apps are almost all out of the question, as they're ARMv7 for performance reasons. This includes Flash, so no luck if you wanted to use it. For multimedia, you're pretty much stuck with the piss-poor built-in audio and video players, since they've gone through the trouble of recompiling/porting them to x86.

    My point is simple... No matter how fast the CPU may be, you aren't going to be able to run ANY apps that would benefit from a fast CPU, cause none of them will run, AT ALL. I think the potential for a non-ARM chip will have to come from the low-end instead... Maybe China's ridiculously cheap, low-end MIPS CPUs will make for cheap enough low-end tablets, that aren't fast enough for games and video anyhow, that developers slowly begin porting their apps, and opening the door for high-end MIPS devices as well.

    Intel's strategy seems inherently doomed.

    • Windows is x86, no matter how hard anyone tries to change it.

      Looks like someone [wikipedia.org] forgot to tell Microsoft [wikipedia.org].

    • Windows is x86, no matter how hard anyone tries to change it.

      Also a history lesson [wikipedia.org].

    • by Microlith (54737)

      I know. There's no way in hell they could recompile them for x86. It sucks when you write software and it's forever locked to one architecture.

      • by evilviper (135110)

        Converting your application to another CPU architecture is called "porting" for a reason. We're talking about games, and audio and video codecs here. It's highly likely they've got some serious dependencies on ARMv7 that'll take far more than a recompile. If not, they'd have made it platform-independent to begin with.

        • Some architectures are easier to port between than other. ARM and x86 are actually not all that far, since both (in this case) are 32-bit. So vast majority of C/C++ code will just work after the recompile

          The reason why they didn't make it "platform independent to begin with" is that, until recently, Android NDK only targeted ARM, and you could only upload ARM binaries to Play Store. For most, it really is just a recompile away.

    • by david.given (6740) <dgNO@SPAMcowlark.com> on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @11:11AM (#41375251) Homepage Journal

      Well, sure, except that when writing Android NDK apps, making them run on x86 is as simple as changing:

      APP_ABI := armeabi

      ...to:

      APP_ABI := armeabi x86

      ...in your Application.mk file. Then you end up with an APK which installs and runs fine on both. And if you want MIPS as well?

      APP_ABI := armeabi x86 mips

      Of course, this won't help existing apps that haven't been cross-compiled, but the Intel San Diego we have here does seem to have a ARM emulator. But I haven't looked at that in much detail because TBH it doesn't interest me much.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      With x86 Android, all the CPU-intensive apps, WON'T RUN. They mention Chrome, but Firefox is also out. Non-trivial games won't run, as they're all native ARMv7. I know I make extensive use of emulators like MAME and others on my phone, but not if it's missing an ARMv7 CPU.

      Multimedia apps are almost all out of the question, as they're ARMv7 for performance reasons. This includes Flash, so no luck if you wanted to use it. For multimedia, you're pretty much stuck with the piss-poor built-in audio and video pla

      • The translation is actually pretty fast - someone tried running Doom (compiled for ARM) on it, and it has shown good FPS.

  • The same company that now touts an 'Un-Linuxable' chip family? Don't trust them, Google.

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