Will 2012 finally be the year we see an Android phone powered by Intel? We have asked a similar question the last two years, but so far Intel has failed to crack the smartphone market. However, we have noticed a recent change in Intel’s tone and it looks like CES could be their official coming out party.

Before we dig too deep, let me just cut to the latest rumor. Several sources have been telling me that Samsung will launch the first Android phone with Intel-inside and there are signs it could be coming to Sprint.

Just today, Intel came out saying they have made Android 4.0 available to device makers. Agam Shah of PCWorld reports that Intel had Android 4.0 up and running on their latest Atom processor, codenamed Medfield, just a day after Google released the source code. He goes on to say that Intel is working with device makers to fine-tune and optimize the OS for specific devices, but it should be ready in time for the product releases.

Next we have a report from Arik Hesseldahl of AllthingsD that has some new information from Intel CEO Paul Otellini. The piece tries to dispel the myth that Intel’s x86 processors can’t compete with ARM-based processors and it includes some exciting claims. Paul Otellini says that their Medfield processor will beat the competition hands down.

Medfield “smokes the others” in browser performance, when compared to three unnamed phones. It also wins in GLBenchmark (graphics performance) and SunSpider (JavaScript performance). However, Intel admits that in power consumption tests it’s not the best, but not the worst either. “It usually comes in second or third place when compared against smartphones already in the market.”

Rumors of a Medfield phone go back several months. We first reported in July that one of our regular tipsters had played with an Intel phone that they described as “rather svelte.” The project was hush-hush back then and our source wouldn’t reveal the handset maker, but now we are hearing that Samsung has extended their strong partnership with Intel to include smartphones.

Samsung has sourced mobile processors from just about every single semiconductor company out there, so it’s no big surprise they would test the waters with Intel’s Medfield.

Sprint customers should circle Jan. 10th on their calendars.

We have been expecting to see the first Intel phones at Mobile World Congress in late February, but Paul Otellini is giving a big keynote talk at CES on January 10th. Sprint invited us to attend an exclusive event directly following the keynote, so that’s why we are speculating they could be involved with launching the first Intel phone. Normally the carriers like to announce their new devices on the Sunday or Monday of CES, so the Tuesday timing right after Intel’s keynote caught our attention.

CES is just around the corner, so I guess we will find out soon. We played with the Aava Mobile prototype phone that used Intel’s Moorestown processor two years ago at CES, so it would be fitting if Intel finally announces their first design win for a consumer smartphone.

What do you guys think? Is anyone ready for an Android phone with Intel-inside?

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