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With the Xolo X900, Intel’s smartphone quest begins in India

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The first commercially available Intel(s intl) smartphone debuts in India this month with the launch of the Xolo X900. Running Android(s goog) 2.3 on a 1.6 GHz Atom processor, the Xolo X900 will sell for 22,000 Indian Rupees (US$422) when it becomes available on April 23 from Croma and Wider availability across India will take place next month.

The product launch is a substantial one for Intel: The company has essentially been shut out of the fast-growing smartphone and consumer tablet space. Instead of using Intel chips, hardware makers have adopted those based on ARM(s armh) architecture, which typically use less power, especially in standby mode. Intel has spent the last few years suggesting that its Atom platform was ready to compete, but the reality is that its competition with ARM processors is only now beginning.

So what is Intel bringing to the battle in the Xolo X900? The handset is built from an Intel reference design and uses a 4.03-inch 1024 x 600 LCD touchscreen, 16 GB of storage, NFC support and HSPA+ support for 3G networks.  The power of Intel’s Atom chipset is evident considering the 8 megapixel camera can capture 10 frames in a one second burst mode. That compares favorably to the latest HTC S One device, which snaps four frames per second in continuous mode. Intel says the handset is capable of running Android 4.0 and will see the latest version of Google’s mobile software through an over-the-air update.

I’ve been critical of Intel’s mobile efforts in the past; mainly because the company hadn’t delivered a product to market. But my views were changed somewhat when I got a demo of an Android 4.0 tablet running on Intel’s Atom chipset. Here’s the video demo below, which shows the Atom’s prowess to run graphics-intensive apps with ease.

Battery life is always a concern, but I was told the tablet would run for eight hours. Likewise, Intel suggests that its first smartphone will provide up to five hours of browsing over 3G, 45 hours of audio and eight hours of talk time. If Intel has licked the power requirement challenge in handsets, it still has a chance to get a foot in the door of the mobile market. And there may be no better place to find that out than in India, where Android is poised to enable the next 500 million mobile users.

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