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Intel Corp has reportedly designed a smartphone, which is set to be manufactured by ZTE. If the information is correct, then the first smartphones with x86 microprocessors will hit the market this year. However, it is reported that the handsets will be available only in China.

Sources with knowledge of the plans told Bloomberg news-agency that Intel has developed a smartphone design powered by an Atom-based system-on-chip (presumably code-named Medfield), which is set to be produced by ZTE. The device, which is currently aimed at Chinese market, will demonstrate ZTE, other makers of mobile phones as well as end-users that Atom SoCs and supporting software can provide high quality of experience.

Neither Intel nor ZTE confirmed the existence of the project, but both companies implied that there are x86-based phones in development.

“In terms of the overall market, we recognize that we have some work to do, but we’re patient and we’re committed to the business. We have the right elements to be successful. We are working on a number of engagements, but are not ready to talk about them," Claudine Mangano, a spokeswoman for Intel.

“It is just discussion and cooperation on a technical basis for the time being,” said Margrete Ma, a spokeswoman for ZTE.

Earlier this year Intel demonstrated a smartphone powered by a 32nm SoC known as Medfield, but revealed no details about the device. In addition, rumours transpired in the past that Nokia Corp. was working on an Intel Atom-based smartphone with MeeGo operating system.

Even though Intel Corp. officially promised last year that premium handsets featuring Atom “Medfield” system-on-chip will be available in the second half of 2011, but Nokia’s decision to transit to Windows Phone 7 platform and thus redesign its roadmap fully, the future of Medfield in smartphones became uncertain. The new report does not indicate that there will be x86 smartphones released this year.

"[Medfield] is [designed for] phones to be shipped later in 2011 and 2012. You will see smartphones from premier market vendors with Intel silicon inside in the second half of next year. Getting chips for phone is a hard work, but it is not the main work. The biggest amount of the work has to do with the modem integration, the telephony stack, the protocol stack that you need, network certification and so forth. We are deep into that with our first-generation silicon for smartphones,” explained Paul Otellini, chief executive officer of Intel, at an investor conference.

Tags: Intel, Medfield, ZTE

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