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CES 2012: Intel, Motorola, Lenovo Strike Android Smartphone Deals

Intel CEO Paul Otellini announced Motorola Mobility and Lenovo Atom-based smartphone and tablet deals, as well as Windows 8 ultrabooks at CES

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Intel inked multiyear, strategic agreements with Motorola Mobility and Lenovo in which the two hardware manufacturers committed to producing smartphones based on Intel’s Atom processor Z2460 platform in 2012.

Otellini unveiled the contracts just hours after Intel rival Qualcomm demonstrated its forthcoming ARM-based Snapdragon S4 processor technology running Microsoft’s emerging Windows 8 operating system. Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs put on an impressive keynote, bringing out Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and Sesame Street’s Grover to tout mobile chipsets.

Partner parade

Otellini, whose company is trying to mount a formidable challenge against Qualcomm and ARM, which have each sold billions of chipsets worldwide already, was not to be outdone by Jacobs. Intel’s leader called one partner after another to join him on stage to announce new products. throughout the presentation, Otellini waved around a LG Electronics smartphone which looks destined to be a reference platform that will not appear on the market.

Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha joined Otellini on stage at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to announce their pact . Neither financial terms nor duration of the deal was revealed.

Motorola, which is awaiting word from monopolies regulators worldwide on whether or not Google will be allowed to buy the Android OEM, will also make Intel Atom-based Android tablets in the future. The companies will collaborate on hardware, software and services to build mobile gadgets with long battery life, speedy application performance and better imaging and video capabilities.

Otellini said the partnership will help accelerate Intel’s move into the mobile market versus ARM. “We expect the combination of our companies to break new ground and bring the very best of computing capabilities to smartphones and tablets,” Otellini said.

One of those guests was Liu Jun, senior vice president and president of Mobile Internet and digital home for Lenovo. Jun showed the audience the very first Intel Atom phone, the Android-based Lenovo K800 smartphone, which has a 4.5-inch, 720p display.

The handset is fuelled by the Intel Atom processor Z2460, formerly known as “Medfield”, with support for HSPA+ with the Intel XMM 6260 platform under the hood. The K800’s Android OS is accompanied by the Lenovo LeOS user interface. Users will be able to hook up their K800 to their TVs via an HDMI cable to port their media content to the big screen. Jun promised an “amazing user experience” in the K800.

However, the US audience may have to wait until Motorola launches its Medfield phones to get their mitts on an Intel-powered phone. The K800 smartphone will be available in China in the second quarter and will run on China Unicom’s network.

Otellini then tapped one of his lieutenants, Michael Bell, general manager of Intel’s mobile and communications group, who demonstrated Intel’s smartphone reference device.

While only a reference design, the device Bell showed off has a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor supported by a 4.03-inch high-resolution LCD touch screen. Bell also showed off the phone’s eight-megapixel camera’s “burst mode”, which allowed him to shoot 15 pictures in less than a second.

“It does, however, sort of pain me to call it a reference phone because I have to tell you, it’s a pretty nice device,” Bell joked. “It’s less than 10 millimetres thick and it’s fully buzzword-compliant. It’s got every bell and whistle you find in a modern smartphone.” This includes an HDMI port and a near field communications (NFC) coil for mobile communications, such as payments.

Ultrabooks and smartphones on tap

Intel made a splash this week by introducing ultrabooks powered by Acer, Hewlett-Packard and others. Otellini said more than 75 ultrabooks will ship this year from those partners, which includes Dell, which just threw its hat into the ultrabook ring at CES.

Otellini called up Jeff Clarke, vice chairman of Global Operations and End-user Computing Solutions at Dell. Clarke unveiled the XPS 13, powered by the Intel Core i7 processor. This device, Dell’s first ultrabook, weighs less than three pounds and will go to market in February with as many as eight hours of battery life.

Of course, while the current Core i7 chips power ultrabooks, Intel will launch third-generation Core processors, code-named “Ivy Bridge”, this year. These chips employ Intel’s 22nm 3D Tri-gate transistors. Intel demoed those chips on one of those machines, a prototype convertible ultrabook. Intel employees played “Call of Duty 3” and “Fruit Ninja” games using the tablet’s touch screen.

Also shown was the ability to tap the Intel Atom reference phone against the convertible ultrabook to pay for a product from Target.com.