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Intel's Atom Z2420 'Lexington' smartphone for emerging markets feels lethargic right now

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Gallery Photo: Intel Atom Z2420 reference design hands-on pictures
Gallery Photo: Intel Atom Z2420 reference design hands-on pictures

Yesterday, Intel introduced a brand new Atom smartphone processor at CES 2013, but it looks like one you'd never personally want in a phone: We just got our hands on the first Lexington prototype, and it's maddeningly slow. Of course, this is a prototype we're talking about, and an extremely cheap one for emerging markets as well, but each time we tried to load up an app on the single-core, hyperthreaded 1.2GHz Atom processor (or perhaps some particularly terrible flash storage?) it took loads of time to get it up. While we were able to swipe around most of the core Android 4.0.4 operating system fairly smoothly and without much issue, and take a burst of seven 5-megapixel images with Intel's camera software, it felt like it took well over a minute to load the game Temple Run and the browser had difficulty pulling up full webpages even though we had internet connectivity on the show floor.

The 320 x 240 screen isn't anything to write home about, an incredibly low resolution by modern standards and with iffy viewing angles, but it's actually fairly crisp all told. The highlight here for emerging markets will probably be the dual-SIM slots: even here on the CES show floor, we were connected to three different networks (two cellular, one Wi-Fi) at once. While we're not sure who makes this particular smartphone for Intel (last year's far-more functional Atom reference design device was a Gigabyte product), we can hazard a guess. Opening up the rear cover, we saw a Samsung-shaped battery.

This isn't a device you'll probably ever buy in a first-world country, and apps aren't everything, but we wouldn't wish a sluggish smartphone experience even on our worst enemies. Here's hoping this isn't wholly representative of the devices Intel partners will be selling.