Intel launches Atom x3, Atom x5 and Atom x7, making a play for the budget smartphone market. Intel Atom x3 features, specs, release date; Intel Atom x5 and Intel Atom x7 features, specs, release date. Everything you need to know about Intel's new mobile chips. (See also: Best smartphones of 2015 UK.)
At MWC 2015 Intel today announced its Intel Atom x3, Intel Atom x5 an Intel Atom x7 range of components. These low- and mid-priced mobile processors with built-in connectivity are Intel's assault on mass-market mobile devices, offering power and connectivity to everything from basic, ultra-low-cost smartphones and feature phones, up to high-end smartphones, phablets and tablets, IoT devices, and wearables.
The Intel Atom processors are coming this year, and are designed to work with 'full' Windows 10 and Android, Intel said.
Speaking about the addition of this range to its existing high-end Intel Core M processors, Intel told PC Advisor that it now had hardware for everything from the smallest and cheapest devices, up to network infrastructure: 'It's an end-to-end play... not all companies can play in this space in such a fundamental way.'
Core M chips are designed for laptops, hybrids and 2-in-1 convertible devices. The new Atom processors are SoCs, offering both CPU and modem for smartphones and tablets. Intel said that 'these devices are competitive, in terms of power consumption... with integrated modem [making them] on par or better in terms of battery life' with other devices on the market. This remains to be seen, of course, and Intel has traditionally found it hard to compete with ARM devices in terms of battery life. But it would make sense that devices with integrated power- and connectivity hardware would enjoy generally better battery life.
Intel said about the range announcement: 'Consumers have choices to make around price, device type, screen quality, battery life'. The launch of Intel Atom x3, x5 and x7 is, the company said, a 'comprehensive, foundational way of coming into this market, taking share, and having the full stack of customisable solutions for our customers.'
What should be good for customers is that if Intel comes to play in the mobile market, it is able to buy its way in with excellent products at friendly prices for OEMs. And that should mean better, cheaper smartphones, tablets and laptops for consumers. (See also: Best tablets of 2015 UK.)
Intel Atom x3: features, specs, release date
This is Intel's first integrated communications system on chip, designed for smartphones, phablets and tablets at low-cost and mid-range price points. Intel Atom x3 offers processing power, and 3G and LTE connectivity.
Intel says the Atom x3 chips offer 64-bit-enabled performance without damaging battery life. The chips scale from 3G up to 4G LTE, and are certified to work with Windows and Android. Intel claims that the Atom x3 will look after graphical and image-capture performance. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC are baked in, as well as FM radio.
The Intel Atom x3 products are shipping now with 3G, with 3G-R products coming later in this quarrter, and LTE later this year. And Intel said that the low-end Atom x3 products could be found in <$75 budget devices.
Intel listed multiple manufacturers who were committed to using Intel Atom x3 processors, it said. To our western consumer eyes they were largely unknown names, with the exception of Asus and Foxconn. Intel acknowledged that it will face a challenge to oust the Qualcomm and Mediatek ARM processors found in smartphones at this price. Which should ultimately be good news for consumers. (See also: Intel vs AMD.)
Intel Atom x5 and x7: features, specs, release date
Scaling further up the range are the Intel Atom x5 and x7 families of processors. These are for products that, Intel says, offer 'full' Windows- and Android experiences. Aimed at mainstream-to-premium devices ranging in price from $119 to $499, the Intel Atom x5 and Intel Atom x7 products are designed from 7in tablets up to 10.1in 2-in-1s, convertible laptop/tablet devices.
Intel's first Atom-branded SoC manufactured on the 14nm process, Intel says the Atom x5 and x7 offer 64-bit CPUs and Intel Gen 8 graphics. This should offer a 'full' Windows and Android OS experience on more expensive portable devices, albeit still not at the premium range in which Intel Core M chips come into play.
Intel said that Asus, Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Toshiba were all committed to producing Intel Atom x5 and Intel Atom x7 products in the first half of this year. (See also: what's the best graphics card?)