back to article Orange San Diego Intel-based Android phone

If you own a smartphone then you are almost certainly using an ARM CPU. That’s good for ARM and its licensees but bad for Intel, as it wants a piece of the vast mobile chip market. Cue the San Diego, a retail version of Intel’s own Gigabyte-built smartphone reference platform built around a hyper-threading 1.6GHz Z2460 Atom …

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Anonymous Coward

It doesn't matter how good the Intel chips are, they should not be allowed to dominate the entire CPU market. The mobile market is the way to end their monopoly and illegal practises (they're stalling paying the EU fine just like Microsoft are).

ARM is the jewel in the crown of our technology industry and without it we would have practically nothing left.

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Anonymous Coward

it's not some kind of Holy War, Anon. ARM are not Luke Skywalker.

You appear to advocate buying ARM regardless of quality. That makes you an idiot fanboi.

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What puts me off Intel as their fucking jingle played at the end of every ad for a product with an Intel chip in it. Makes me feel like lobbing a large heavy object at the TV.

It is only surpassed in awfulness by the vomit inducing "I'm loving it" McDonald's jingle.

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Bitch, please

I think it is also surpassed in awfulness by the Go Compare singer.

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Stop

I suppose

ARM will just have to compete.

Your logic is that because a company's product is successful, that company should be prevented from trading in a given market, or so.

That same logic, were it to become law, would prevent ARM from enjoying the dominance they have earned thus far.

The law on monopolies exists to PROMOTE competitive practices, not to restrict them as you are advocating.

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Orange branding

Having had an Orange branded phone in the past complete with Orange 'clutter crapware' the thought of another one ( I use unbranded handsets now ) makes me want to p*ke.

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Re: Bitch, please

I rather like him. He's got a fine voice, and the ads are *meant* to be annoying and silly, not just some teeth-grinding branding guff!

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..never buy on a promise

Having been stung several times by carriers and the promises they've made, I'd day don't touch this phone until it's running ICS

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Re: ..never buy on a promise

+1

As soon as I read "but Orange tells me an Ice Cream Sandwich update is due “shortly”." it took me right back to my days with carrier branded Nokia Ns. Eww.

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Re: ..never buy on a promise

why? What does ICS do that 2.3 doesnt? I can only think of NFC and face unlock. There are devices that are flakier on ics than 2.3.x

"from stone cold dead to fully functional takes a brisk 22 seconds" My S2 (granted it is rooted and speedmod kernel'd) takes 11 seconds from cold to wifi on. Media scan takes a bit longer, maybe another 15 seconds on top but I do have a 32gb SD card on top of the 16gb.

Battery life looks good on this, looping video is about the same but 2 days is slightly better than my 1.5 days.

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Re: ..never buy on a promise

> why? What does ICS do that 2.3 doesnt?

GPU acceleration of browser rendering, IIRC.

> I can only think of NFC and face unlock.

The San Diego has got an NFC reader under Gingerbread. I've got no tags to test it with, so I have to trust them that it works.

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battery life

The review didn't really get very detailed on it. Sure it can loop video and the reviewer got a couple of days out of it.

but all the android apps it uses require emulation, so there's always extra processes running which must drain more juice than the ARM chips.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: battery life

> it can loop video

Video decoding is mostly done by dedicated graphics hardware, not the CPU, so this is an especially bad measure of energy efficiency.

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Re: battery life

Apps require emulation? I... Don't think so. They run in dalvik. Java in all but name. No need for emulation.

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Re: battery life

Only pure Java apps run totally in dalvik. Things like games are often compiled specifically for ARM, and those run in an ARM emulator.

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Re: ..never buy on a promise

And the consensus is that it doesnt work very well. It is REQUIRED that ICS is built on hardware that supports acceleration but the APIs are not necessarily used. Certainly benchmarks will show it works. Browsing the BBC or flash content makes no difference whatsoever. And indeed NFC was added in 2.3.3 so even less of a point updating to ICS

The same was of honeycomb supporting hardware accel. It didnt make too much of a difference on most devices. sure the 800mhz crappy tablets could be shown to run decent web pages adn 720 content but fell over everywhere else.

downvote all you want, ICS makes little difference to most devices other than eye candy. give me stability any day. Then agian the masses just want the latest and greatest with the highest numbers. 4 is better than 2 or 3 right?

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Re: ..never buy on a promise

My gingerbread can't play flash, so no iPlayer for me

iPlayer on ICS only streams anyway, so the app is a giant bookmark

(I got an ICS tablet and a ginger phone, and next time I will buy a Blackberry 'cus I use my phone to talk to people as well as fuck around)

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Or, at around that price....

.....you can pick up an EOL Sony-Ericsson Xperia Arc S, sim free. That has ICS available now, a one-click root utility already out there for the ICS update, also gets a GPS lock in nothing flat and indoors to boot, runs everything plenty fast enough[1] as far as I can see, has a superb camera and looks a bit cool too (if that's important), due to the huge amount of added thinness. It'll also easily do two days on a charge, even with heavy use, so that's nothing special.

[1] Apart from the willy-waving benchmarks, but even a single core ARM processor, when capable of winding up to a nosebleed-inducing 1.4Ghz, can disguise a multitude of sins.

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Anonymous Coward

Good to see competition

Nice to see some decent power and specs coming to phones in the sub £200 category at last and watch the death "of not up to the job" 600mhz rubbish from the likes of HTC.

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Curious...

85% and recommended for a phone that only has Android 2.3 and only works with 75% of Android apps.

Many a better phone has been crucified for not having ICS.... The El-Reg confusing review system strikes again.

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Re: Curious...

I'm taking Orange at its word that an ICS update in imminent.

As for the games, not everyone plays games on their phone. If you are desperate to play Shadowgun on your blower then the SD is clearly not for you at the moment which is why I emphasized this failing, drawback, call it what you will, in the review. That caveat aside it's a very fine device for the asking price.

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Re: Curious...

About app compatibility - I've got an Orange San Diego, and so far I've found a total of two apps that don't work.

One is KeePassDroid, which loops back to the password entry screen all the time. I'm using AstonSoft Password Manager at the moment.

The other is WinAmp. It used to work but the latest update seems to have broken it, so it'll probably get fixed soon. I went back to the stock music player.

Everything else works - Opera, TuneIn Radio, 3G Watchdog, CoPilot navigation, eBay, IMDb, QuickOffice, DropBox all work perfectly. Even one-man-band type stuff like Open Intents File Manager works. I don't play games, so a lot of the 25% that doesn't work could be games.

Anyone else want to list what doesn't work?

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Re: Curious...

> I don't play games, so a lot of the 25% that doesn't work could be games.

In particular, I suspect those implemented in OpenGL & C++. I'd be interested to know how many of those just don't work, and how many attempt to work under the ARM emulation and fail due to slowness.

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Re: Curious...

Intel only buy the best

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WTF?

storage

I'm often surprised when i read things such as....

"you are stuck with the built-in 16GB which actually means 2GB for apps and 11GB for files."

In reviews for Android phones.

On iOS, it seems to be, 'here is your space, do what you want with it, oh yeah, we've taken 4GB for the OS', my 16GB iPhone (which is plenty), I have 5.9GB of Music, everything else is Apps (only 570mb free space) most of these I use quite regularly, a few of which are over 400mb (games and such).

Am I right in thinking that if I got an Android (which I have considered) I would have to drastically re-think my approach to App use? Or are Android Apps just really small?

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Happy

Re: storage

Quite possibly a bit of both, it can be a juggle to maintain your apps when you have limitations imposed. That is why not been able to root the device is a big deal. Although it would be impossible to know without knowing what apps you currently use.

Take a look at the play store and compare. Although, if you are thinking of transitioning from an iOS device to an Android I would go for the higher end devices. As much as I slate the old fruits, they do have a smooth interface and are quite an awesome design. Whilst the sub £200 phones are great value they are not iPhones.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: storage

Worth keeping in mind you can move a lot of apps into file storage or onto your SD card these days. I reckon 2GB is more than enough room for most people.

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Re: storage

Originally Android had internal storage, which wasn't user visible, and the SD card. Apps got installed to the internal storage and kept their data in databases there. The SD card was optional; if an app needed lots of space, or needed access to actual files (such as videos, photos, MP3 etc) they could look there.

Except that the early Android devices didn't have much internal storage, so apps got used to storing anything that was even slightly big on the SD card, which meant that having one was mandatory. (My elderly phone only has 170MB of internal storage.) The iPhone avoided this by speccing reasonable amounts of internal storage in the first place, and not allowing any external storage at all.

Fast forward to now: internal storage is now 16GB or so and is loads faster than the SD card (even if there's a socket available). So in order to use it effectively they have to split it up into two parts, one for internal storage and one for *fake* external storage, which is presented to apps as an SD card. Which is really stupid, but that's hysterical raisins for you.

I don't know how big iOS apps are, but the biggest app on my phone is Google+, which is 28MB installed; Google Maps is 11MB; Dropbox is 4MB; the Android Market is 4MB; the third-party home screen is 2MB; Youtube is 1.5MB; a Z-code interpreter is 400kB. The smallest real app is the terminal emulator, at 64kB.

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Re: App Size iOS

To give you an idea about the size of (some of) the App's I'm talking about....

TomTom 465MB (which arguable might not be needed on Android, or iOS6 for that matter)

Tony Hawks Pro Skater 115MB

Mirrors edge 106mb

To compare, Dropbox is showing as 15.9MB and Google+ is 25MB

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Meh

Re: storage

To a degree, yes - and yes, it can be annoying, although phones these days seem to have simplified the process, some apps seem to install straight to SD anyway, and apps like App2SD can mop up the rest.

The exception to this appears to be the Galaxy Nexus - you have 16GB of storage, end of story, that can be used by anything - it's very iOS like in that behaviour, and I must admit I feel it's the better approach.

The catch is there's no 'block level' mounting the GN as a mass storage device and it communicates with the host via MTP - not a problem for Windows, but I believe Linux users have trouble. I have no idea at all for Mac users.

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Re: storage

> I don't know how big iOS apps are, but the biggest app on my

> phone is Google+, which is 28MB installed

The Android Marketplace (as was) had a limit on app sizes of 50 MB. Apple's limit is 2 GB or so. As a result, apps with lots of data tend to download it when they first run on Android devices but have it built-in on the iOS versions. So it can be misleading to compare the "advertised" sizes of the apps.

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Re: storage

Smooth design? My mum's iPhone 3G is slow as heck, barely functional due to iOS hardware requirements exceeding its capabilities, and my £100 unlocked 1Ghz Huawei G300 Ascend blows it out of the water.

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WTF?

Re: storage

iPhone 3G came out in 2008 and has 128MB RAM and a 412 MHz CPU.

Huawei G300 came out in 2012 and has 512MB RAM and a 1 GHz CPU.

But no, you're right, they are totally comparable...

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Re: storage

I don't know about earlier versions, but my Android 4 phone doesn't seem to have any restrictions on how I use the internal space.

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Re: storage

The better approach I think is to have a decent size internal storage that you can do what you like with, but also to have external storage for upgradability. So 16GB is more than enough for OS and installed software, but it's things like media that take up loads of space, and they can happily sit on a cheap 32GB or 64GB card.

I believe this is how Android 4 phones typically work (except those like the Galaxy Nexus that don't have expandable storage). Of course it wouldn't be a problem if internal storage was as large and cheap as microSD cards - I don't know why this is always a problem.

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Re: storage

You miss his point. The OP said that today's low end Android phones aren't as good as even older Iphones. He replied that this isn't the case. Indeed, the fact that you point out how poor the specs of the pre-4 Iphones were is in agreement with him, and contrary to the OP's claim - even the low end Android phones are way ahead of earlier Iphones.

(Although when comparing to older Symbian phones, I find it funny that some low end Android phones today still have ridiculously low resolutions - my now ancient Nokia 5800 had 640x360 years ago. And as an Android developer, it's a pain to continually have to cater for tiny resolutions.)

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Re: storage

Only sort of true. The earlier Android phones had a very small amount of internal storage, and so yeah, most of them shipped with an SD card of some sort.

That is TOTALLY optional, and it's also not even close to being necessary to emulate the SD card. App installs look for SD storage for some things, but that's always optional.

The main reason SD card emulation is still done is USB Mounting. If you have an SD Card, it's formatted in FAT32 (the SD Card Standard), rather than ext3 or ext4 or whatever Android is using internally. Which means the card can easily be mounted as external storage on a PC. That works on pretty much any PC, even Macs, as well as other things... you can put this kind of storage on a PS3, another Android tablet, etc.

If, instead, they go with a single volume (as my Galaxy Nexus does, for example), the device has to connect using a higher level, network-like protocol such as MTP. MTP used to be kind of a special agreement between Windows Media Player and your device. These days, it behaves as a first class drive mounting means within Windows, but it's less compatible with other systems. On the plus side, since it's by nature a higher level, networking style protocol, you don't have to unmount the volume on your phone to mount it on your PC.

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Re: App Size iOS

Certainly iOS apps grew in size because they could, on the typical device. Large memory has been a slower growth thing on Android, though today they're certainly supporting the same levels of storage.

The other thing is that on iOS, they don't necessarily have the choice. Android is largely vector based -- of course it supports bitmaps, but you don't necessarily have to use any bitmaps in your application to have a totally acceptable app. On iOS, on the other hand, everything is bitmapped based, and users expect this crazy, over-the-top skeuomorphic GUI on every application. Apparently, it's important for you, as an iOS user, for your address book to look as if it were actually and realistically made of stitched leather.

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doesn’t support a lot of popular gaming titles

I must have missed this in the article... why is this the case, is it because of the Android version or something else? I thought most Android phone apps were 2.x since ICS is not mainstream yet.

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Re: doesn’t support a lot of popular gaming titles

Screenrez and different native code.

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JDX
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Orange-only?

Is this a special Orange-only phone? If so, will we be seeing equivalent handsets on other networks because I'm very impressed based on the price-point and battery life.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Orange-only?

The same handset is available in Asia under the Lenovo and Xolo brands. I suspect it it will be Orange-only in the UK for the foreseeable. The Orange/Intel/SanDiego TV commercial suggests a joint campaign.

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Re: Orange-only?

Darn. I get £5 off my broadband bill for having my mobile with O2 so I don't really want to change provider :(

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Re: Orange-only?

So buy it on PAYG, unlock it and stick an O2 SIM in it.

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It's locked down, it's the Intel way!

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When did the title become optional???

No SD means it's not as easy to experiment with different ROMs although maybe Orange think that is a good thing? Even without that fact, I have a lot more than 16GB of media and it's just a bit of a faff deleting songs, video's in order to put new ones on. Much easier to swap out the SD cards.

I still have the original San Francisco (running ICS - albeit a little slower than the more modern phones) and was thinking about getting a newer phone around this price point for xmas but it wont be the San Diego. I don't want to wait around for an ICS update when JB is due out any day, and I really want the hardware to be as compatible as possible with as much as possible. I suspect (based on no technical knowledge whatsoever) that stripping out the Orange bloatware, rooting, unlocking and generally making the phone your own is going to be much harder on this than ARM phones?

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Glad to see a competitor to ARM

...this will make them raise their game. Think how fast mobile chips (MIPS,ARM) have come on without serious competition already!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Glad to see a competitor to ARM

There is plenty of competition in the mobile chip market already. Although the sensible system builders likely use ARM, they can choose which chip builders SystemOnChip ARM implementation to use - different chips, different vendors, depending on requirements for their particular product. Plenty of choice, plenty of competition.

What will Intel bring to the table in that respect?

I'm waiting with interest a decent costed teardown, at which point we'll be a bit better informed, especially wrt just how much Intel are subsidising this.

Meanwhile if you want a bit of a teardown for a non-Orange-badged version of this hardware, there's

http://www.chipworks.com/en/technical-competitive-analysis/resources/recent-teardowns/2012/05/inside-the-lava-xolo-%E2%80%93-intel-penwell-inside/

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FAIL

Epic fails on 3 fronts gets 85%?!

Let me see:

Epic fail #1: A mid-2012 phone shipping with Android 2.3, which I have on my 2-year-old HTC Desire. Only a promise of any later Android release, so my advice would be to wait until the upgrade is available and *then* consider the phone. Make this a standard lesson for any phone maker releasing an Android phone in mid-to-late 2012 that doesn't run 4.X.

Epic fail #2: Can shoot video in 1080p and the reviewer benchmarked with a 720p looping video and yet the screen only has 600 pixels vertically and cannot view 720p+ videos without dropping whole chunks of lines. Scooby says huh?

Epic fail #3: No SD card slot. Want to carry a load of videos and install a bunch of games (which can reach 1GB downloads of data per game) - sorry, no can do. And don't talk about cloud nonsense when one video can use up your entire month's mobile data quota.

These three reasons alone should make a potential buyer wary, but none of them were particularly considered relevant if you read the article.

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