Feeds

Hands on with the Intel-powered Orange San Diego

Assault on battery?

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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.

Orange San Diego

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.

Orange San Diego

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?

Orange San Diego

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.

Orange San Diego

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.

Orange San Diego

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. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Will.i.am gets CUFFED as he announces his new wristjob, the PULS
It's got four KILOWATTS of something, apparently
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
Jaguar Sportbrake: The chicken tikka masala of van-sized posh cars
Indian-owned Jag's latest offering curries favour with us
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
Is living with Dolby Atmos worth the faff?
Subtle, naturalistic ambiance – perfect for Transformers 4
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.