Motorola unveils its first Intel-powered smartphone: Razr i

The Razr i is the Intel version of the Droid Razr M for Verizon Wireless. It'll sell in Latin America and Europe.

After years of talk, Intel is finally making some headway into the smartphone business.

The Razr i with an Intel Atom processor. Motorola Mobility

Motorola Mobility is the latest company to unveil a smartphone, the Razr i, to be powered by an Intel processor. The Razr i is essentially the recently announced Droid Razr M for Verizon Wireless, only with the different processor. It will be available in Europe and Latin America.

The Razr i is one of a handful of smartphones now running on an Intel Atom processor, further evidence that Intel is establishing a beachhead -- albeit a small one -- in the mobile arena. Intel has shrugged off criticism that its chips were too power-hungry and inefficient to run in smartphones and has partnered up with major players such as Motorola, Orange, Lenovo, and ZTE.

Intel is racing to expand its presence in the mobile world as its core PC business faces a looming slowdown, with consumers shifting their disposable income toward smartphones and tablets and away from laptops and desktops. Motorola, meanwhile, is looking for other supplier options beyond stalwarts such as Qualcomm.

The Razr i, like the Razr M, features Motorola's near edge-to-edge display, cramming a 4.3-inch screen into a fairly compact design. The big differences are under the hood. The phone packs a single core 2-gigahertz Atom Z2480 "Medfield" chip -- the first Motorola phone to achieve those speeds. The processor allows the camera to capture 10 shots in less than a second and has a dedicated camera key -- features not available on the Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Razr M.

Motorola has made a lot of hay about the battery life on its latest Droid phones, and the Razr i isn't any different. The phone has 20 hours of "mixed use" time, or Motorola's proprietary measure of a person's normal smartphone routine. Jim Wicks, senior vice president of consumer experience design for Motorola, noted the phone lasted a bit longer than the Razr M.

That directly addresses the concern that Intel's processors weren't as efficient as Qualcomm's Snapdragon or Nvidia's Tegra processors, a stigma that's long dogged Intel's efforts in the mobile business.

Mike Bell, vice president and general manager for Intel's mobile computing group, said he liked having two comparable devices using rival processors out in the market, which allow them to be easily stacked up.

"We're thrilled to get another proof point out there," Bell said. "We're proud to show off the capabilities."

The Razr i also features an 8-megapixel camera and a 2,000-milliamp battery, and runs Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich, just like the Razr M.

The phone features a penta band antenna, which means it can roam in the U.S., and is compatible with HSPA+ 14 networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile.

Important for Intel, the back of the phone will carry the Intel Inside logo, a nice step toward getting consumers to start associating the company with smartphones.

The phone marks the first to come out of a partnership announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The alliance was seen as a significant stepping stone for Intel to get deeper into the smartphone market, with Motorola a unit of Google, which runs the Android ecosystem.

 

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