Intel Unveils Android Phone That Can Be Used As Linux Desktop

Intel has grabbed attention with a smartphone prototype that can also create a desktop PC experience. No, it’s not running on Windows 10 Mobile and is not using Continuum for phone software. Rather, the smartphone is a low-power phone with an Intel Atom x3 processor and two operating systems: Android and a custom version of Debian Linux.

How the Intel phone works and what it does

You can use it like a phone and run Android apps, or you can plug it into an external display with an HDMI cable and run desktop-style apps on a big screen. All one has to is connect a keyboard, mouse and display to make it a desktop Linux evicec.

Android is based on a Linux kernel, so we’re running one kernel, we have an Android stack and a Linux stack, and we’re sharing the same context, so the file system is identical. The phone stays fully functional,” Intel’s Nir Metzer, Path Finding Group Manager, told The Register.

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WinFuture, a German site, got a chance to check out the prototype at the Mobile World Congress (MWC). It looks like the smartphone’s low power processor has done a decent job in giving a pretty basic desktop experience. In the demo, we can see Google’s Chrome and the Firefox web browsers running simultaneously. VLC media player is seen playing videos, while LibreOffice Calc and Writer (spreadsheet and word processing apps) are running in other windows.

Limited resolution for Intel’s phone

On Intel’s prototype smartphone, a user can interact only with one operating system at a time, unlike Continuum, which lets one continue to use their phone while running full-screen apps on an external display prototype. If one uses the device in desktop mode, the smartphone screen turns off but Android continues to run in the background, and users can see notifications on the Linux desktop if calls or text messages come in, even if the screen is off.

Foxconn reportedly built the prototype for Intel featuring a 5.5-inch, 1280 x 720 pixel display, up to 2GB of RAM, and up to 16GB of storage. Currently, it runs Android 5.1, but it is said that Intel is working on support for Android 6.0. The screen resolution is limited to 720p because the hardware isn’t powerful enough for higher-resolution displays, and this is the only demerit in Intel’s smartphone.

Phones with this technology could sell for as little as $100, says WinFuture. This would make these smartphones far cheaper compared to any smartphones that support Windows 10’s Continuum.