Here’s why Microsoft isn’t using Intel inside its upcoming flagship Windows 10 Mobile phones?


Rumor has it that Microsoft is set to launch, later this year, a couple of flagship Lumia devices running Windows 10 Mobile.

To refresh your memory, here are the rumored specs again for these couple of Lumia devices codenamed CityMan and TalkMan…

The Cityman (aka Lumia 940XL)…

  • Slim design with Metallic unibody frame
  • 5.7 inch, 2560 x 1440 resolution display
  • Octa-Core Snapdragon 810 with Adreno 430 GPU
  • 3 GB RAM
  • 32 GB internal storgae
  • MicroSD card slot
  • 5 MP FFC
  • 20 MP PureView camera
  • Short Pulse variable-tone LED Flash
  • Continuum for Phones support
  • Iris Scanner
  • Native Pen support
  • USB Type-C & Dual-Role support

The TalkMan (aka Lumia 940) is a smaller version of the Lumia 940XL, with a 5.2inch display and running SnapDragon 808.

These specs are NOT official but have been leaked from multiple sources. No physical evidence of either phones have been revealed except this half image of a curved bezel with branding, this also cannot be substantiated to be either the 940XL or 940…

It is a very known fact that Qualcomm’s SnapDragon 810 chip has an overheating problem.

In fact, that was the main reason Samsung opted to go with its own in-house chip (Exynos) to power its 2015 flagship phones the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge.

The HTC One M9 which runs on the SD 810, but HTC tackled the overheating issue by throttling the CPU usage on the M9 through a software update it released

Qualcomm recently revised its plagued SnapDragon 810 chip and this revised version can be seen on the recently launched Sony Xperia Z4 and already reports are coming in that this also overheats!

So naturally, when WinPhans took a look at the rumored specs for the Lumia 940 XL (CityMan), it is said to be powered by this same SnapDragon 810 chip, and a lot of us got concerned and began to ask the question…

Why isn’t Microsoft using an Intel chip in its upcoming flagship Windows 10 Mobile phones.

At first glance, all the signs are there…

Microsoft has a good partnership/relationship with Intel.

Intel’s RealSense 3D features fit nicely with the new Microsoft Hello feature.

Intel has shown they can make put a powerful chip on a smartphone (Asus Zenfone 2 running Intel Atom Z3580)

So why isn’t the Lumia 940 XL going to be powered by an Intel chip then?

Well here’s your answer…

There is a HUGE limitation with Intel’s ARM chips. You cannot integrate radios (LTE, Bluetooth, WIFi…)

Intel hasn’t figured out how to integrate the radios on the same processor chip.

What I mean is the Intel Z3580 for instance is a process chip but other components like the LTE radios, bluetooth, WiFi have to reside on another chip.

If you tear down the Asus Zenfone, you will see 2 chips inside; One for processing power and another for everything else.

Where as, the Qualcomm chips have the processor, graphics and all radios all on one chip. This is a cheaper, more efficient way to implement on a smartphone.

This is something Qualcomm has been able to do for a while now and why they are on top.

When you do a quick comparison between the Intel Z3580 (Asus ZenFone) and the SnapDragon 810, you can see that it does not have the radios on the chip…

As you can see from the comparison table above, the Intel Z3580 lacks all the radio components compared to the SnapDragon 810.

You can view the full comparison table HERE

So simply put; Because of this limitation of Intel mobile chips. The phone makers/OEMs would have to buy the processor and the radio separately. Snapdragon is all-in-one chip, therefore cheaper and quicker to implement into a smartphone.

On a lighter note, I have been assured by an insider at Intel that they might be close to implementing an ARM chip with radios integrated.

Maybe, they already have a solution and are working with Microsoft to out them on the Lumia 940XL? Who knows. But for now, what we know is that currently there isn’t one (except the Intel Atom X3 SoFIA, but this has a 3G radio integrated, no LTE yet) and unless Microsoft starts making its own processors, we will have to wait and see what’s inside the flagship Lumia devices.



Please note:

As of the time of publishing this article, The SnapDragon 810 or any Intel chip have not been officially announced as the chips that will power the upcoming Lumia flagship devices. This article was written with the assumption that the SanpDragon 810 will power the rumored 940XL.