MWC 2014: Hands-on preview with Intel’s Merrifield and Moorefield reference phones

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I try not to get too excited about reference phones, as a rule – but oh, Intel has built something lovely in its Merrifield and Moorefield reference phones. And I was lucky enough to get to play with them a little bit after Intel's press conference here at Mobile World Congress. These little phones are sleek and slim, with tapered edges and what appears to be a glass-covered back. They aren't dumb black slabs like so many of the standard phones you see on the market: They have a slightly edgy, angular personality.

The phones weren't all that functional, alas. I tried to play a racing game; it quit. They didn't have any Internet access. But I summoned up CPU-Z on the quad-core Mooresfield phone and saw it racing along, with each core remaining docile at 332MHz and then jumping up as far as 2300MHz when needed.

Intel's deeply challenged in phones. It's not just that it can't get manufacturers to build devices; it can't get those manufacturers to build devices that really stand out. I'm curious to see if phone makers jump on board with this attractive design.

I spoke to Aicha Evans, the general manager of Intel's wireless group, and she said that the company was only moving to offer turnkey designs in China – otherwise they'll help manufacturers build phones, but they don't want to just offer up hardware for carriers to slap their names on any more.

Take a gander at the slides below for a closer look at the Merrifield and Moorefield phones.

Here at the show, Intel also introduced its next-generation LTE cellular modem and new Atom chipsets for mobile devices.

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