The Orange San Diego is the first phone to include Intel’s Atom chip, which promises better battery life, faster browsing and full HD movies.
Intel is one of the biggest names in tech, but despite producing 70% of the world’s PC processors, smartphones have eluded the US giant. The Orange San Diego sports one of the maker's Atom chipsets, but can it match the quad-core monsters like the iPhone 4S, HTC One X or Samsung Galaxy S3, still remains unanswered.
The Orange San Diego in a compact 4-inch smartphone. It is packed with Intel’s latest mobile processing technology and a budget handset for Orange customers. It is great with a soft black plastic that feels durable, yet inexpensive. It’s light yet strong, and tips the scales at a solid 117g. It follows the Intel reference design closely, and that means there’s four buttons along the bottom of the screen for back, home, search and menu.
There is an 8MP camera, which is packed with settings, effects and tweaks. Shutter lag is almost non-existent and the Atom processor is doing its job. Photo quality left a lot to be desired. The San Diego runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The on-screen keyboard with tiny buttons made even smaller with extra buttons added to the side. The positioning of many of the keys was observed awkwardly situated. The San Diego comes with 16GB of internal storage with no option for expansion via microSD.
The San Diego has an excellent screen. The 1024x600 resolution is extremely sharp, with bright colours that looked excellent. Colours were well represented if a little pale. It’s head and shoulders better than other budget handsets such as the LG Optimus L3, in terms of sharpness, resolution and colours, and watching YouTube videos is a pleasing experience. Despite the sharpness, the screen’s high resolution did make icons small and text hard to read.
The Intel Atom Z2460 is a single core 1.6GHz chip, which is a world apart from any other smartphone chip. It’s of the x86 ilk, which basically means it has more in common with the chip in your PC than your iPhone 4S. Intel says that the 22nm architecture is more power efficient than its competitors. The Intel Atom chip can also stagger its power usage, giving you power when you need it, and stepping back when you don’t. Browsing speeds were improved with the use of the Atom chip. Pages were rendered extraordinarily quickly. This performance was backed up in Sunspider, with the San Diego thrashing the iPhone 4S in Java performance. The Antutu benchmark scores put the San Diego in the middle of the road with a score of 5463, which is a fraction of the quad-core power of the Samsung Galaxy S3.
With any modern smartphone, two days of battery life is a pipe dream, but the San Diego never stopped short of a full day’s use. The phone got very warm and gave out after a pitiful 202 minutes. The Atom chip works overtime to process HD video, and that could cause the dismal score. If you’re a basic user you won’t have any problems, but if you regularly watch video or play games, you might find the San Diego dies before you finish.
The Orange San Diego is a well-built and powerful budget handset. However, usability niggles such as the small screen, the awful on-screen keyboard and the worrying battery performance under heavy strain.