Hands on with the Intel-powered Orange San Diego
Assault on battery?
First look Orange joined forces with Intel today to launch its first Atom-powered smartphone, the San Diego, which I had the opportunity to play with ahead of release.
I was immediately taken aback by the San Diego's 4in capacitive display, which wows with a resolution of 600 x 1084 pixels and 16m-strong colour palette. Text and icons are super crisp, the demonstration video looked impressive and I was already commenting on the detail of the display before I'd made any opinions on the handset's construction.
The build is splendid too, perhaps a tad lightweight for my liking, but certainly sturdy enough to withstand any accidental knocks.
The button layout is fairly run of the mill, with a volume slider and instant-camera pin on one side, as well as a standby stud to the top left. I prefer the latter being aligned to the right, but time breeds familiarity and its placement is by no means awkward.
You'll find a Micro USB port for charging on the bottom, with a mini HDMI on the left, utilised for 1080p playback on HD tellies. The battery can't be removed without taking the handset apart. And there's no card slot to expand 16GB of on-board storage.
So far so good. But hardware manufacturing is one thing; making use of an untried platform for mobile - in this case, the 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2460 - is another matter entirely. It's an x86 system-on-a-chip, and while Orange has Android 2.3 Gingerbread running on it, most Android apps are coded for the ARM platform.
Saying that, I found little difference between the 'Medfield' processor and its Arm equivalents in terms of performance. Everything ran quickly and smoothly. Orange's customised Android build was navigation friendly, and anyone already familiar with the general Droid setup will find their way around with ease.
Browsing the web was creditable, with both tap and pinch to zoom functions, as well as support for HTML 5. I had no trouble navigating my way through our own incredible webpage, so what more do you need?
Many punters will be worried whether Medfield will be able to handle apps compiled for ARM chips, a concern both companies were quick to address. Orange insists that "most apps", particularly "the main ones", will have no problem running on the San Diego, which uses an ARM emulator to provide software compatibility.
Despite support for the 21.1Mbps HSPA tech, I couldn't establish a fast enough connection to download applications, so we'll have to reserve judgement on connectivity and compatibility until we get our hands on San Diego for a full review.
The same can be said for battery life, which despite an "average capacity", is claimed to last eight hours of talking and 14 days on standby. Orange says superb optimisation deserves the applause there. We'll see, however running games that require the conversion could drain juice considerably.
Unfortunately, the handset's 8Mp camera produced pics that feel a bit washed out, even with the backlight correction function enabled. But there are heaps of photography options, such as the ten-shot burst capture, to keep the average hobbyist happy.
The 1.3Mp front-facing camera was particularly grainy and it would be nice to see manufacturers raise the bar in that area. I don't know about you, but I use the front-facing camera on my smartphone in equal proportion to one on the rear.
Other features include NFC capabilities, Orange's HD voice tech for clearer transmissions, and Orange Gestures for one-stroke access to favourite apps. I failed to see any DLNA options, which will disappoint those of you who like to stream content from Nas to phone.
The Orange San Diego is released next week for around £200 on PAYG. It can also be snapped up for free on contracts starting at £15.50 a month.
For that price, the San Diego is fabulous value for money and while it might not match up to the premium phones available for twice that figure, it certainly makes that famous saying feel redundant. Yep, this is the 21st Century and we can indeed compare Apples and Oranges. ®
What's up with you 2? He's said it's a nice enough phone, with a nice enough screen, which seemed to be fast enough. With lots of caveats. Including saying the chip might not work, but he wasn't able to try it yet, until their full review.
How the fuck does that make him a shill?
You're showing that you either don't like Intel, or don't believe they can make a viable mobile phone chip. You may be right, you may be wrong. But the ones pre-judging here are you. Not the reviewer, who's clearly said he's not made a judgement.
It's bad enough all the fanbois/fandroids spouting on about their fave mobile OS's. The last thing we need is bloody processor fanbois joining in.
Re: How's the holiday going?
Giant douche much?
Attention Caleb Cox
Please note that in all future articles, you are NOT allowed to like anything to do with Intel (or Orange, not sure which) and whatever you do, do NOT compliment any features that you like on handsets that are not on the approved list as supplied by the above commentards. If you do, you will immediately be labeled a corporate shill who only regurgitates marketing materials.
That is all
Re: Oh FFS!
Because it looks like a shitty intel version of the San Francisco, which is half the price, doesn't run its apps in an emulator, doesn't have a washed out camera.
The reviewer actually says "the San Diego is fabulous value for money". Really? I can find a plethora of android based phones at this price point with better features and not relying on emulation to run apps.
I'm not saying he's a shill, but I do think it is a crap review. The only interesting thing with this phone is that it runs on an Atom, with apps running on an ARM emulator, which gives compatibility issues, performance issues and power issues.
When you want a phone, you don't care about what processor it runs, but you do want it to be compatible with your apps, be performant and not chew power, and on that basis this phone is a dog that the reviewer called a horse.
"One shouldn't care what processor is in a phone. However, phones using this processor have downsides that make you need to care. The 'first looker' didn't seem to be bothered by this, eulogising the "magic" that the manufacturer's press release espoused and playing it down, and then said it is fantastic value for money."
That's not really fair. The language about the screen did seem to be a bit press-releasey, I'll grant you, but equally, it could just be he really liked it.
For £200, a good 4" screen Android is good value. So long as it works, and the battery life isn't shocking.
The piece was full of caveats about how the processor may have problems, and he'd not had a chance to test it. So I think the criticism is ridiculous.
"You do seem really miffed for some reason that people do not want power hungry x86 chips in their phones."
I get pissed off by the wankers who shout 'shill' at everyone who disagrees with them. That got me commenting on the thread, once I'm here, I may as well stick around. In for a penny, in for a pound...
You've pre-judged though, which is why I've taken issue with you as well.
As I understand it Intel still needs a lot more power than ARM - although they've got a long way with Atom. So it may be this phone will be shit. Or Intel will have to massively subsidise it in order to sell, due to larger battery requirements. No user should care about that, so long as they're not paying. If it doesn't work with apps, then a review will pick that up, and we'll know.
There are things that could make this phone work. Atom could have better graphics. As that becomes more important, its power disadvantage may matter less. I'm interested to know if Intel can manage it. Though I don't personally think they will. But this knee-jerk 'Intel chips are shit in phones' stuff is just annoying. Intel are obviously trying to do something about that, and competition is good.