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Motorola's First Intel-Based Handset Launches In UK

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the perhaps-it-could-skipped-across-the-pond dept.

Android 64

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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Cool! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41374323)

I hear this is the phone Dice used when they called up Geek.Net to buy slashdot. Front page news? Maybe that's why slashdot is stale.

It's so fast (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41374329)

Atom is so fast, it got me first!

So many problems... (3, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374367)

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?!?

Re:So many problems... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374539)

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 'ChromeOS', and Intel has the same access to the Chromium source code as everybody else(if their engineers see something that could be improved), as well as giant fucking buckets of cash with which to induce Google to work a bit faster on making the Android version of Chrome really scream on x86(not that Google would have any obvious interest in Android working worse on any platform; but a little sweetener could probably get you moved up the priority list a bit)... You'd think that Chrome would have been a major target.

Re:So many problems... (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374695)

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.

Re:So many problems... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#41375097)

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 made it to handset release. Presumably they'll iron it out at some point.

Re:So many problems... (0)

Coisiche (2000870) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374819)

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

Re:So many problems... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41375099)

I second that

Re:So many problems... (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#41375609)

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.

Re:So many problems... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41377485)

You want opera mobile, or even firefox beta, _not_ opera mini, we're not using j2me anymore.

Re:So many problems... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#41379959)

Because you want your tabs to sync with your desktop, and that runs Chrome.

Re:So many problems... (4, Informative)

ravenscar (1662985) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Was sort of hoping for x86 (2)

kriston (7886) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374371)

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

Re:Was sort of hoping for x86 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41374415)

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

Re:Was sort of hoping for x86 (1)

kriston (7886) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374419)

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

Which is it?

Re:Was sort of hoping for x86 (2)

hattig (47930) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374445)

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.

Re:Was sort of hoping for x86 (1)

rcs1000 (462363) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374425)

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

Re:Was sort of hoping for x86 (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374601)

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?

Re:Was sort of hoping for x86 (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374663)

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 port at the memory address where God and the IBM PC intended it to be...)

Re:Was sort of hoping for x86 (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#41380011)

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.

Re:Was sort of hoping for x86 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41375919)

We are getting closer to the Ubuntu Phone!

battery life (0)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374387)

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.

Re:battery life (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374535)

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?

Re:battery life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41374639)

I would mind a larger phone but then you'll have to consider the charging time.

Re:battery life (1)

Dewin (989206) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376357)

My phone (a Samsung Vibrant, or Galaxy S1 if you will) charges from empty to full on 2 hours.

Doubling the charge time for double the capacity doesn't seem like a problem to me, since it usually charges overnight -- and it still leaves the option of a half charge in the same amount of time for the same amount of battery life I have now.

Of course, I sometimes carry one of these [amazon.com] around, but that's mainly because tethering is a huge battery drain. Oh, and that+the phone easily fit in one pocket, with the Nexus 7 that is using the phone-provided wifi in the other.

Re:battery life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41374739)

No can do.

a) It's meant to be held in one hand (and not very comfortable position) for prolonged periods of time. Extra weight means extra fatigue and wrist pains.
b) Whatever people say about "post-PC era", smartphones are still a fashion statement for big part. Bulky smartphone just ain't cool.

There might be niche sturdy brick-like smartphones with huge battery, but don't expect it in mainstream devices. OTOH, there's external battery extensions - I remember one for iPhone in snap-on case form factor, for example.

Re:battery life (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374969)

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

Re:battery life (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 2 years ago | (#41384399)

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

Re:battery life (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#41386625)

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.

Re:battery life (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374595)

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 use is all the battery life people care about, so if you find yourself above that, make the phone slimmer, the screen bigger, or add a uselessly overpowered cellular modem..." territory; but Intel does seem to have things down to less risible power levels.

This certainly isn't the first-gen Atom combined with a 20-watt 945G...

Re:battery life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41374689)

"Well, one working day of use is all the battery life people care about, so if you find yourself above that, make the phone slimmer, the screen bigger, or add a uselessly overpowered cellular modem..."

This, except I'm sure you're talking about LTE, which while it uses more battery, I almost never turn off because it is so much faster. But I don't really understand why the iPhone 5 got thinner nor why the RAZR sells non-MAXX versions. We now have the tech to make smartphones have featurephone battery life, but thinner, thinner, thinner... *sigh*

20 hours between charges (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41374789)

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.

Re:20 hours between charges (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#41375045)

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 substantially hotter than the silicon in other phones in the price range.

Re:20 hours between charges (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#41380019)

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.

Re:20 hours between charges (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#41380755)

No, AC is claiming the iPhone 5 lasts 200 hours, not 100.

Re:20 hours between charges (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#41380743)

RISK, as in the game?

Re:battery life (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#41375031)

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.

But Intel's next gen is anti-Linux (0)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374511)

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 it, they promise (in advance! they're telling you now) they will punish the customer by doing everything they can, to frustrate them.

"We assure you: your money will be wasted."

Re:But Intel's next gen is anti-Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41374545)

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.

Because Intel putting out some chips they claim won't supported Linux means that ALL chips they make won't support Linux, right?

Or did you just make an asinine jump to a conclusion, there?

Re:But Intel's next gen is anti-Linux (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377427)

After so many years of dealing with hardware deliberately designed to prevent software from competing with Windows, Linux fans are pretty touchy about this issue. If Intel wants to make the processor version of a Winmodem, they can. But they should expect that it will not be well received by some.

Re:But Intel's next gen is anti-Linux (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#41380777)

Intel just don't want to waste time and money writing power management drivers for Linux when Microsoft is probably paying them to write drivers for Windows.

Re:But Intel's next gen is anti-Linux (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#41382457)

Well then the savings is worth the backlash from the community, no?

Re:But Intel's next gen is anti-Linux (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41374609)

You Linux fanbois amaze me. You really do. Your ability to understand information and come to a logical conclusion is just amazing.
 
But... but... but... it's teh Linux!!!!onehundredeleven!!!!!

Re:But Intel's next gen is anti-Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41377201)

Except that Intel change their mind [androidauthority.com] and now says that they will support Linux/Android with their Clover Trail chip

But.... (1)

bstrobl (1805978) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374593)

Will it run Windows?

If it does, the next objective will obviously be getting an android emulator onto that.

And Crysis...

Oh And a visual basic app to track an IP Address.

Zero performance, where it matters... (4, Interesting)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374641)

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.

Re:Zero performance, where it matters... (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374779)

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

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

Re:Zero performance, where it matters... (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374803)

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

Also a history lesson [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Zero performance, where it matters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41374897)

You must not have ever used C compiler before. You simply tell it to compile for a different architecture and voila! There are small caveats like endianess, but they are extremely easy to work around. I regularly write code that compiles just fine for a half dozen architectures at least.

The only thing that Intel needs to do is to convince people to flip a setting in their project so that they are compiling for x86 in addition to ARM. They don't need to hit a terribly critical number of phones to make that happen.

Re:Zero performance, where it matters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41375057)

Isn't it just a matter of compiling the source for x86? You know, just like Linux has binzries for ARM as well as x86. Furthermore, unlike Windows, Android runs on kernels that run perfectly well on both ARM and x86 architectures.

Many high end games are build on frameworks that also support both, so I don;t really see a problem except for a few devs being too lazy to recompile their sources.

So does Windows... (1)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376997)

Perhaps slightly OT, but what do you mean, "unlike Windows"? The NT kernel, which powers what most people think of as "Windows", has been portable for longer than Linux (the kernel) has!

The first portable version of Linux was 1.2 (released March 1995) and supported x86, Alpha, SPARC, and MIPS. The prior release, 1.0 in March 1994, was x86 only.

Windows NT, by comparison, wasn't even developed initially on x86 (explicitly to avoid x86-specific behavior from creeping in), although it was of course ported to x86 before release. The very first release (numbered 3.1 to match the DOS-based Windows version of the time) supported x86, Alpha, and MIPS in July 1993.

I will grant you that only recently has MS bothered to port NT to ARM, but that's because they had another kernel (CE) which they've been using to power ARM devices since at least 1997. However, despite recent massive improvements to CE, it's still inferior to NT for a general-purpose computer (though it has other useful characteristics, such as being hard-realtime and able to run on extremely minimal systems).

Re:Zero performance, where it matters... (2)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41375071)

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.

Re:Zero performance, where it matters... (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#41379437)

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.

Re:Zero performance, where it matters... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#41380037)

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.

Re:Zero performance, where it matters... (5, Informative)

david.given (6740) | more than 2 years ago | (#41375251)

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.

Re:Zero performance, where it matters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41375255)

Anandtech's performance numbers for the browser on x86 Lava Xolo look just fine. In fact for V8 they're much better than arm.

Re:Zero performance, where it matters... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377967)

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.

I believe Intel mentioned something about an ARM emulator, so for those who don't compile their NDK parts with x86, it can still benefit from running them so it isn't the app wasteland it seems.

It won't be high performance, but at least it'll run. I think Intel's mentioned it's not going to be an open-source component or something, though.

Re:Zero performance, where it matters... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#41380047)

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

Why is everyone saying power consumption is high? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41374741)

Everyone saying that the Atom has terrible power consumption should go and read this preview from Anandtech:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/5365/intels-medfield-atom-z2460-arrive-for-smartphones

The Atom Z2460 beats most phones in benchmarks, and plays in an even field regarding power usage.
Motorola have decided to run it at 2.0 ghz however, which will of course cause higher consumption. The Intel reference designs run at 1.6 ghz.

Also, the Motorola Razr i has a 1780mah battery while the old Razr M had a 2000mah. Both are specified to run roughly 24h.
So why are everyone saying Atom has terribly high power consumption?

Re:Why is everyone saying power consumption is hig (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#41374827)

Older Atom chips were often less efficient, like-for-like, than ARM chips. While Intel (will) have made improvements, it takes a while to change people's perceptions.

Re:Why is everyone saying power consumption is hig (2)

repvik (96666) | more than 2 years ago | (#41378757)

The Atom Z2460 beats most phones in benchmarks, and plays in an even field regarding power usage.

Compared to most phones produced last year, yes. Compare it with HTCs One X or the Samsung Galaxy SIII (or the iPhone 5), and try again.
Also, it beats few phones on GPU performance. That, and power consumption, is probably why Motorola slapped a crappy 540x960 screen in the phone.

Also, the Motorola Razr i has a 1780mah battery while the old Razr M had a 2000mah. Both are specified to run roughly 24h.

Spec sheet for the Razr i says "Up To 20 Hours". That's make it worse off for power consumption than the old Razr M.
Seriously though. Are those actual standby numbers? Do these phones have to be charged atleast once daily, without being used?
I easily get 48h+ on my Galaxy Nexus with light usage (a few phonecalls, some sms/gtalk, checking twitter/mail). It's got a 1750mAh battery.

Re:Why is everyone saying power consumption is hig (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#41380055)

It's "up to 20 hours" with "normal use" - not standby.

Intel (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376337)

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