Lenovo-owned Motorola has consistently offered a certain level of quality with its ‘E’ series of budget smartphones, focusing on software, brand image and basic reliability at competitive prices. And although the Moto E was launched back in 2014 at a price of Rs 6,999, the latest phones in the range, the Moto E4 and Moto E4 Plus are a bit more expensive at Rs 8,999 and Rs 9,999, respectively. It’s safe to say that things have changed for Moto’s entry-level range, which is now moving towards offering more in the way of features than its original focus on reliable budget performance and software.
With 2016’s Moto E3 Power, the range moved from being powered by Qualcomm chipsets to MediaTek chipsets. And while the Moto E4 Plus sold in certain global markets is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 427, the variant sold in India is powered by the MediaTek MT6737 SoC. This brings to light a couple of key arguments; is Qualcomm better than MediaTek, and why? And even if it is, how does it matter to the consumer?
Qualcomm SoCs are generally more expensive for manufacturers and smartphone developers to include in their phones, and with good reason. Thanks to better design, technology and development, Qualcomm chipsets are generally considered superior to the equivalent variants from MediaTek. Smartphone makers such as OnePlus, HTC, Sony, Motorola and LG, among others, have consistently chosen to go with Qualcomm for the superior quality, performance and durability on offer. This has even impacted consumer thinking of late, and buyers have now realized that smartphones powered by Qualcomm SoCs are usually worth the premium.
However, there is an even larger segment of consumers in India that care not about the brand of the chipset maker. Thanks to a driven effort by the forces that control specifications, smartphone makers today make it a point to write the number of cores powering the phone and the clock speed. Even though these are factors that don’t tell the complete picture, buyers today believe that more cores and a higher clock speed is all that matters, paying little attention to the technological and developmental factors that make a chipset what it is. ALSO READ: Moto E4 Plus to go on sale via Flipkart at 11:59pm today; here’s everything you need to know
It is for exactly this reason that MediaTek has succeeded as a maker of smartphone chipsets. Available at a lower price than an equivalent option from Qualcomm and often boasting more cores that are clocked higher, a MediaTek SoC helps smartphone manufacturers offer phones at more competitive prices, or with more boast-worthy features.
Here’s where we come back to the Moto E4 Plus. The variant sold in India comes with a MediaTek MT6737 SoC, clocked at 1.3GHz on all of its four cores, but this is the only component that is, in my opinion, the department where the phone falls short of competition. The use of this SoC instead of the equivalent Qualcomm Snapdragon 427 means that Moto can offer 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a 5.5-inch HD screen, a 5,000mAh battery, 10W fast charging, a 13-megapixel primary and 5-megapixel front camera, LED flash on both sides, dual-SIM connectivity with a dedicated slot for external storage, Dolby Atmos tuned speakers and Android Nougat 7.1.1 out-of-the-box. You’re unlikely to find a smartphone priced under Rs 10,000 offering you this much in the way of specifications and features, and all of this is only made possible by the use of the MediaTek SoC. ALSO READ: Moto E4 Plus Vs Moto E4: What’s Different?
Let’s also be clear, this can only work for a budget device such as this, while even a mid-range device from the ‘G’ range such as the Moto G5 could never have gotten away with replacing its Qualcomm SoC with one from MediaTek. It seems that there is a fine line dividing buyers in these two segments. While one set may care for and only choose to use a Qualcomm-powered smartphone, the other segment may choose to overlook the SoC in order to have better features and a more ‘usable’ smartphone.
All of this serves to highlight just how radical some approaches can be, and how the price wars have driven a brand such as Moto to adopt such a different approach in two products that are only Rs 5,000 apart when it comes to pricing.