Intel cranks up the pressure, as ZTE and Motorola prepare to release Atom-powered Android smartphones

ZTE Grand X INIntel is continuing to push its way into the mobile processor market with its Medfield platform, ready to take on Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments. Although Medfield has been around since the beginning of 2012, it has yet to make much of an impact, but as more manufacturers explore its potential, this is beginning to change.

ZTE has announced it has joined Intel’s merry band with the unveiling of the new Grand X IN. Well, we say new, but we really mean an older phone with one very important tweak.

The Grand X has already done the rounds several times, having been revealed earlier this summer as an “advanced gaming phone,” and before that as the Mimosa X; but this new version ditches the Tegra 2 and replaces it with Intel’s Atom chip, hence the addition of “IN” at the end of the phone’s name.

ZTE’s Grand X IN uses Intel’s single-core Z2460 Atom processor, the same as that found in the Orange San Diego, a UK-only, network-branded re-badging of the original Intel reference device. Although ZTE doesn’t mention it, we presume it shares the same 1.6Ghz clock speed too.

The screen measures 4.3-inches and has a 960 x 540 pixel resolution, there is 16GB of internal memory, 1GB of RAM, GPS and support for HSPA+ networks. For what will be priced as a mid-range phone, it’s good to see features such as NFC, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Dolby Mobile and HD Voice make it onboard.

Google Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is the standard operating system, and the Grand X IN is the first Medfield phone to have this almost-new version installed from the factory, as previous Intel phones have used 2.3 Gingerbread.

Besides the processor change, ZTE has also swapped the ordinary 5-megapixel camera from the first Grand X out in favor of an 8-megapixel camera, which can also shoot 1080p video.

Motorola Intel InvitationMotorola gets in on the Intel action

ZTE isn’t the only manufacturer backing Intel either, as none other than Motorola is almost certainly preparing to announce its own Atom-powered smartphone.

The Google-owned company has sent out invitations to a special event to be held in London on September 18, which bore both Motorola’s and Intel’s logos.

Motorola’s tagline for the event is “Let us take you to the edge,” and discovered a Twitter hashtag, #motoedge, linked to the forthcoming event, hinting that this could be the name of the new device. A supposed Intel-powered Motorola phone was leaked way back in February, but we’ve heard nothing since.

The partnership between Motorola and Intel was announced at the beginning of the year, and the cache of a true “big name” manufacturer is exactly what Intel needs to kickstart its assault on its competitors market share.

For now though, Intel fans have the ZTE Grand X IN to look forward to, and it should hit European store shelves in September. A price has yet to be confirmed, but if ZTE has any sense, it will keep the £190/$299 SIM-free cost of the existing Grand X in place.