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Intel Medfield smartphone – Benchmarked and review

Lenovo Medfield handset

Intel's reference design and Lenovo K800 demoed

Intel announced its Medfield smartphones during its keynote yesterday at CES. So today we headed straight down to the stand to get our hand on them.

Handsets from Motorola and Lenovo were both announced, but only the Lenovo handset was available alongside the Intel reference design, which was being demoed yesterday. The Lenovo design was running a chinese version of Android, so we took the time to look at both.

Lenovo Medfield handsetClose up of the Lenovo handset


The Lenovo K800 is only 10mm thick, but it feels surprisingly chunky despite that fact. The screen bezel is quite wide and the phone is essentially a single chunk, maintaining that width from end-to-end. Apparently it contains a 1,900mAh battery, rather than the 1,460mAh pack in Intel’s reference design – and from which all the battery scores in the keynote were taken.

Lenovo Medfield handsetIt has a slightly bevelled side, but this is a chunky phone by modern standards

The larger battery could denote Lenovo’s lack of confidence in Intel’s claims of battery life. Then again we may just be reading too much into this, and this business-like phone might simply be designed to get through the working day, rather than look pretty. Speaking of looks, the Lenovo has a 1,280×720 resolution screen, so its certainly a higher-end specification handset.

Lenovo Medfield handsetRunning Android version 2.3.7 on the Lenovo handset

Both the Lenovo device and the Intel reference handset were running Android 2.3.7, which is the latest iteration – bar the just released Ice Cream Sandwich, and we wouldn’t expect a development phone like this to be running that yet.

Lenovo Medfield handsetThe top of the Lenovo Medfield handset

We tried running our usual Sunspider Java benchmark on the Lenovo version. We weren’t able to kill all the other applications before doing so, it still scored a very respectable 1,821ms. That puts it in line with the best Texas instruments or Qualcomm powered handsets we’ve seen.


Intel staff were running some impressive demos on the Intel reference design of the handset. That device is a little slimmer and lighter than Lenovo’s but is otherwise very bland in appearance. It’s irrelevant really as manufacturers will use the chipset in designs of their own styling.

Back to the demos, the British Intel demonstrator started by showing how quickly the chipset could render the BBC news home page. Once loaded from Wi-Fi it brought up the page very quickly and he scrolled down through to show all the media content had loaded properly.

Medfield demosRendering the BBC news page on Medfield

Next up was video playback of a 1080p file. It played smoothly and the demonstrator could skip to various parts of the video without any lag or problems. Finally he showed off a first person shooter, which demonstrated an admirably smooth frame rate.

Medfield demosRunning a demanding 3D game on Medfield

It was an impressive range of demos and all done without any hitches or problems. At the end of the demos the handset itself was only faintly warm to the touch – a very good sign.

It seems that Intel has finally cracked the mobile chipset. There’s nothing ground-breaking here, but it looks solid and Intel’s engineering expertise should make further gains quickly. Based on this performance we can’t imagine its competitors are quaking in fear, but it certainly seems we have a new player in the mobile market.

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