At this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Intel shared some details on three different Atom chips destined for handsets along with a first look at the upcoming Orange 'Santa Clara' smartphone. First impressions suggested the Atom-based phone would offer performance at least on par with today's top contenders, and now some early benchmarks by German site Caschys seem to back up that notion.

The site ran Qualcomm's Vellamo benchmark app and the browser-based BrowserMark on the device. The results were outstanding considering the phone isn't out yet and may receive further tweaks ahead of launch.

In BrowserMark, which tests the phone's ability to render Javascript and HTML, the Orange Santa Clara posted a score of 89,180, narrowly besting Apple's iPhone 4S score of 87,801 with its proprietary ARM-based dual-core A5 processor. Samsung' Galaxy Nexus held the crown, however, scoring 98,272 points.

The second benchmark is designed to test eleven separate areas of a phone's performance and compiles everything into a single score. Here the Intel-based Santa Clara was able to outpace both the Galaxy Nexus and iPhone 4S, along with a few other smartphones and tablets, while only trailing behind the quad-core Tegra 3-powered Asus Transformer Prime and dual-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Xiaomi MI-One Plus.

Of course, while encouraging, bechmarks only tell part of the story. It remains to be seen how snappy the phone feels in real-world scenarios and if it will be able to match up to the competition in terms of battery life – a critical area where ARM has already proven its worth.

The Santa Clara is powered by single-core Atom processor with HyperThreading support and clocked at 1.4GHz. It has a 4.03-inch, 1024 x 600 display, along with an 8MP camera capable of shooting 1080p video and 10 photos per second in a burst mode. Disappointingly, it will be running Android 2.3 when the phone arrives this summer in France and the UK, but Orange says that an update to 4.0 ICS is coming.