updated 02:35 am EST, Wed January 11, 2012
First mainstream Intel Android smartphone
Lenovo brought its new Atom-powered smartphone, the K800, to a special event following Intel's keynote at CES. Electronista had a chance to try out the unique device, which is expected to be the first Android handset to arrive on the market equipped with Intel's mobile processor.
Intel is arguably entering the Android game a bit late, finally bringing its Atom processors to the mainstream smartphone market. Several x86-based Android adaptations have been developed, but Google TV represents the only commercial release.
The K800 features a 1.6GHz Atom Medfield processor, an eight-megapixel primary camera, and a 4.5-inch TFT display with 720p resolution. The demo devices were connected to AT&T's network, however they will arrive first at China Unicom.
Lenovo made extensive customizations to the Android 2.3 interface, which offers a similar look to the company's Android tablets. We did not have any problems navigating through the unique interface. If the device is headed to the US, however, it will have a difficult time competing with other high-end smartphones if the company does not switch to Android 4.0.
The overall experience was generally impressive, without any lag or other performance issues. We did not compare performance side-by-side with other flagship Android handsets, though it did seem to be just as fast as its competition.
The 720p display and fast processor are an enticing combination, which could be aimed at the Galaxy Nexus. Interestingly enough, Android 4.0 has been optimized by Google for compatibility with x86 architecture, however Intel's own Medfield reference phone and the K800 both utilize an aging version of the search giant's mobile OS. Neither company had much to say about the discrepancy, but we expect Atom smartphones to quickly transition to Ice Cream Sandwich.
If Lenovo makes the jump to Android 4.0 before releasing the K800 in the North American market, it could be a compelling offering. Both Intel and Lenovo are relative newcomers to the smartphone market, aside from the latter company's LePhone smartphone that entered the Chinese market. As expected, Lenovo is expected to test the waters in China before attempting to engage western markets.