Head over to your nearest shops, or check the smartphone listing page on Flipkart. Figure out what’s the most common name that comes up with regards to chipset, especially in the affordable categories. MediaTek comes up the most, followed by Qualcomm, right? In fact, if you are spending less than Rs 30,000 on a phone these days, this is a choice you have to make. Also Read - Poco F3 GT review: Good, but still not a true Poco F1 successor
Over the past year, MediaTek has stepped up its game in the smartphone chipset market with its Dimensity series chips. For the entry-level segment, phones using a Qualcomm chip are as rare as double vaccinated individuals. Get this: Qualcomm loyalist OnePlus too made the switch to MediaTek power this year for its Nord series. Also Read - Realme Band 2 fitness band launched in India to take on Mi Band 6, price set at Rs 2,999
Where’s Qualcomm? And what is it doing? Also Read - Redmi 9 Activ budget phone silently launched in India: First sale date, specs and other details
It’s all MediaTek southward of Rs 30,000
MediaTek now seems to be the default choice for phone manufacturers this year, with Qualcomm being the alternate choice. The Dimensity 1200 chip is now a widely used chip for midrange phones focused on high-end performance, while Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 870 is restricted to a few phones (that too north of Rs 40,000).
In the last few months, the Dimensity 1200 chip has powered a couple of popular midrange phones, all of which have earned our recommendation. There’s the Realme X7 Max for gamers, the Poco F3 GT for gamers, and the OnePlus Nord 2 for(surprise surprise) gamers. The performance levels are on the same level as the Snapdragon 870, and I myself have faced no drawback with these phones.
Then there’s the Dimensity 800U chip that’s powering a majority of affordable 5G midrange models from Motorola, Realme, Oppo, Vivo and others. The Dimensity 700 is the default choice for entry-level 5G phones, with companies like Realme, Poco and Samsung relying on them highly.
In fact, to get that “5G phone” tag, companies are now preferring to go the MediaTek Dimensity route. The equally powerful Snapdragon 750G is only being used in a handful of phones, none of which are particularly enticing options.
And, if you descend into the world of affordable 4G-only smartphones, it is MediaTek that powers the most popular models. The Helio G95, and lower G series chips are powering the majority of affordable Android phones. Of course, you will find the Snapdragon 732G in the Redmi Note models and Moto G models, but every brand prefers to have a MediaTek-powered alternative in the same price. A case in point is the Redmi Note 10S, which is barely any different from the Redmi Note 10 but is known for its faster performance.
Why is MediaTek everywhere?
MediaTek won’t answer the obvious but there’s one simple reason: lower costs. MediaTek sells its 4G and 5G chips to manufacturers at lower costs, which in turn allows smartphone companies to pass the benefits on to customers. And, it’s not that these chips lag in performance: we have seen most Dimensity 700/800/1200 phones balancing high levels of performance with good battery life.
Qualcomm chips, on the other hand, are pricey this year. For example, the Snapdragon 778G is midrange chip with lesser raw performance potential than the Dimensity 1200, yet phones using that chip cost more; look at the Realme GT Master Edition and Motorola Edge 20.
You also must factor in the chip shortage situation that has crippled several industries this year. From automobiles to game consoles to smartphones, everybody is in desperate need of newer chips. MediaTek is somehow able to deliver on the increased requirements while Qualcomm seems to be on the back foot.
Will MediaTek rule smartphones next year?
At the current pace of expansion, it highly seems so. Qualcomm is w restricted to the extreme high-end of the smartphone space, wherein it enjoys the monopoly with its Snapdragon 888 this year. MediaTek has proven its capabilities with the Dimensity 1200 chip for premium phones and if the company plays its cards right, it could convince phone makers to use more of its higher-end chip for their flagships.
Then there’s a threat to Qualcomm from phone makers themselves. Google will step into the custom chip manufacturing business this year with the Pixel 6, while Samsung’s upcoming Ryzen-fused Exynos chip for next year has got hold of our attention. It is mostly the BBK brands that are majorly using the Qualcomm chips, and how long do you think can they resist the idea of making their own chips?
Qualcomm still makes some of the best mobile chips in the business; make no mistake. We just saw the Snapdragon 778G delivering reliable and stable performance in the Realme GT ME, and the same is the case for Snapdragon 870-powered phones from Xiaomi, Vivo and iQOO. However, we are increasingly seeing more phone makers adopt MediaTek power for their mainstream phones for hitting that affordable pricing. Maybe Qualcomm needs to figure out a competitive advantage and stay relevant in the affordable phone space. We are eager to see how the company manages the situation to turn things in its favour.