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Intel Unleashes Secret Weapon in Smartphone War

Intel unleashed the hottest new smartphone at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, surprising people with its impressive design for the telecom giant Orange. Intel decided to do away with trying to convince mobile carriers that its chips would work on mobile phones, a field dominated by chip-designing rival ARM , by opening up a phone-making business of its own.

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Intel’s new smartphone has the best of both worlds, running Google’s Android operating system but bearing a striking resemblance to Apple’s iPhone 4S. Mike Bell, who worked at Apple for 17 years and is now Intel’s head of mobility, claims it is only natural for Intel to become involved in the phone-making business as mobile phones become more and more like handheld computers.

Suddenly more companies are showing interest in shipping devices with Intel’s reference design, including Lenovo and the Indian carrier Lava, in addition to Orange, allowing for Intel’s chips to branch out to other devices. Motorola Mobility , currently in the process of being acquired by Google, announced that all of its future devices will run on Intel chips, and ZTE also promised to begin shipping devices with Intel chips, as well.

With ARM currently dominating the market with its chips in 95 percent smartphones, Intel has a long way ahead in proving that it can cut it. Intel will probably dabble in the phone arena by producing state-of the-art reference devices with every new generation of chip. Intel will continue to focus on chip design, but it has certainly proved its competence in the phone-making business.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Diallah Haidar at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com