Intel is showing off prototypes for a line of smartphones and tablets set to come to market in 2012.

The devices will run on Android and will be powered by Intel’s new Medfield mobile chip, the latest and most power-efficient design in its Atom line and the most serious competitor to chips from ARM, which currently dominate the mobile landscape.

The Medfield chips are smaller, faster and more advanced than existing mobile chips, and they’re also specifically configured to play nicely with Android OS and apps.

“We expect products based on these to be announced in the first half of 2012,” Stephen Smith, vice president of Intel’s architecture group, told Technology Review, which itself received a couple of prototype devices to play with.

The phone prototype, which you can see above, is strikingly similar to an iPhone at first glance, but its noticeably lighter. It may ship with the most recent 2.X fork of Android rather than Android 4.0, a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich, the newest fork of Android, which was released this fall.

Intel’s reference tablet device, however, does run Ice Cream Sandwich and features a slightly larger (though not thicker) display than the iPad 2.

Spicing up its mobile side could do a lot to help Intel remain competitive in the overall market. The chip maker has had a rough year in 2011. Earlier this month, the company announced it had reduced its revenue outlook by $1 billion due to flooding in Asia and the resultant hard drive shortage.

In addition to its mobile offerings, Intel is also strongly pushing its chips for the ultrathin ultrabook category, even going so far as providing matchmaking services between small consumer electronics companies and manufacturers to get more of the ultrabook PCs on the market.

Intel celebrated the microprocessor’s fortieth anniversary last month. The company’s first chip, the 4004 microprocessor, was first announced on November 15, 1971.

Image via Technology Review

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.