ZTE, Intel’s BFF, puts a new Atom chip in the Geek smartphone

Last month┬áChinese handset maker ZTE announced a “strategic collaboration” with Intel(s intc), and this month the early fruits of that labor are here. At an Intel developer event in Beijing on Wednesday the ZTE Geek smartphone was unveiled and it’s the first handset to use Intel’s new 32 nm Atom Z2580 chip known as CloverTrail+.

What does that mean for the Geek? According to ZTE’s tests — which of course will have to be independently confirmed by us geeks — the phone’s 2 GHz chip is “twice as fast for computing and three times as fast for graphics” while also reducing power consumption over the previous Atom.

ZTE hasn’t shared much additional information on the phone; there are no availability dates, no prices, nor target markets although I’d assume Europe, Australia and Asia will be important markets as ZTE’s prior Intel-powered phones have done well there. The phone itself has a 5-inch 1280 x 720 display, runs Android(s goog) Jelly Bean with 8 GB of internal storage and 1 GB of RAM. A pair of cameras (8 and 1 megapixels) adorn the back and front, and the rear camera has an LED flash. Wireless charging is supported.


Partners such as ZTE are extremely important to Intel, which until recently has been on the sidelines when it comes to the mobile market. Most of the top handset makers — Samsung, Apple(s aapl), HTC, Nokia(s nok) and others — have long used chips with the ARM architecture, leaving Intel with few mobile partnership options.

Motorola did make one effort, the RAZRi, but aside from that, ZTE is Intel’s new BFF. Intel couldn’t ask for a better partner either: since ZTE is based in China, Intel has a foot into the door of the biggest mobile opportunities on the planet today. And that could pay off down the line if ZTE keeps pushing forward with Intel Atom inside its smartphones.