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ZTE to build smartphones with Intel's new 'Clover Trail+' Atom

'First we conquer Austria, then the world'

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Chinese handset-maker ZTE has announced a "strategic collaboration" with Intel with the goal of creating a phone built around Chipzilla's new Atom Z2580 processor.

"The collaboration with Intel is an important part of ZTE's strategy for product development," the company wrote in its announcement, "both in terms of time-to-market and in providing customers' with a great handset experience."

Intel's Atom Z2580 was announced at the recently completed Mobile World Conference in Barcelona as one of three new processors aimed at the mobile market: the dual-core Z2580, Z2560, and Z2520, with top clock speeds of 2.0GHz, 1.6GHz, and 1.2GHz, respectively.

Each is built using a 32-nanometer process and featuring Intel's two-threads-per-core Hyper-Threading Technology. The successors to Intel's "Medfield" mobile platform, the new chips were codenamed "Clover Trail+" before launch.

A smartphone based on the Atom Z2580 won't be the first Atom-powered handset produced by ZTE's mobile devices division. It currently offers the ZTE Grand X In, which features a 4.3-inch display with a QHD (960-by-540 pixel) resolution, running Android 4.0 aka "Ice Cream Sandwich", and based on the single-core, 1.6GHz member of Intel's Medfield series.

That phone, ZTE claims, was "one of the best-selling smartphones in Austria during 2012" – which, from The Reg point of view, is not exactly a stunning tale of success. The ZTE Grand X In has also been available in Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Slovakia, Moldova, Greece, Sweden, and Norway, and will soon be available in France. ZTE did not brag about its sales in any of those other countries.

In its announcement, ZTE also said that it ranks number four among mobile handset manufacturers globally, citing figures from the analysts at IDC, but doesn't note that that distiction was achieved with a paltry 3.6 per cent market share. Among smartphone vendors, IDC ranks it at number five, although with a larger market share of 4.3 per cent, behind Sony at 4.5, Huawei at 4.9, each far behind Apple's 21.8 and Samsung's 29.0 per cent.

Although it's highly unlikely that Intel's chips will find their way into phones from those two market leaders, its design win with ZTE might help it get some traction in the fast-growing Chinese smartphone market. Considering Intel's poor showing to date in the handset space, any incremental gain is to be welcomed by the server, desktop, and laptop chipmaker, which has been woefully late to the smartphone and tablet markets. ®

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