For many years, Intel has been promising that it would revolutionize mobile computing. At CES 2010, it showcased a new Atom processor, Moorestown, and even went so far as to announce a device, the LG GW990, which was set to ship in the second half of 2010. Amidst rumors of poor power consumption, the GW990 was canceled, and not a single Moorestown device ever made it to market.

Fast-forward to CES 2012, and Intel is in Las Vegas again with a new mobile chip codenamed Medfield. This chip, Intel says — this chip is the one. Intel showed off a fully-functional reference design, and also announced a multi-year, multi-device partnership with Motorola.

This time round, Intel has followed through on one of its promises. But rather than arriving guns blazing with a hot new slate of phones, Intel is testing the waters by commercializing that CES reference design with a series of low-key launches. In April, Indian cellphone manufacturer Lava released the Medfield-based Lava X900, and a few weeks ago Lenovo followed suit in China with the LePhone K800. Next on Intel’s list is the UK, with carrier Orange, and the San Diego.

The San Diego isn’t priced like a revolutionary device — it’s available for just £199.99 (around $309) on an Orange prepaid plan. For comparison, Nokia’s Lumia 710 will set you back £179.99 ($278) through Orange pay-as-you-go, and last year’s Galaxy S II is £399.99 (about $618). You’ll get a lot of phone for your money as well — a 4.03-inch high-resolution display, 16GB of onboard storage, NFC, an 8-megapixel 1080p rear camera, and a 1.3-megapixel 720p front-facing imager. But while its low price alleviates some of the pressure, the San Diego still has a lot of questions to answer. Intel says that the vast majority of apps will run on its x86 processor without issue and ensures us that it’s finally fixed power consumption with the Medfield Atom. Is it true?

Intel has dominated the PC and laptop market for what seems like an eternity, but Android is firmly in the hands of Qualcomm, Nvidia, TI, and the rest of the ARM manufacturers. Can Intel really enter this late in the game and hope to be competitive? And will the increased competition benefit consumers, or simply further fragment an already increasingly disparate platform?