MediaTek Inc. is the unsung hero driving smartphone adoption in Africa

MediaTek Inc. is a 23-year-old Taiwanese company that manufactures affordable chips for electronic devices, used by millions in Africa.

MediaTek Inc. is the unsung hero driving smartphone adoption in Africa

MediaTek Inc. is a 23-year-old under-rated Taiwanese company that manufactures chips for electronic devices. They are competing in a market dominated by Qualcomm and now, Apple.

Although lesser-known, MediaTek powers more than 1.5 billion devices. And it is self-acclaimed as the 4th largest fabless semiconductor company in the world.

MediaTek has made a name for itself by innovating for the lower-end of the smartphone market. Thus, it is often regarded as a below-par SoC (System-on-Chip) manufacturer.

Led by China's Transsion, mid to low-range devices dominate the African smartphone market. This dominance is due to many factors, chief of which is the favourable price. The majority of Africans are poor and so, smartphones are a luxury. Hence, it makes sense to patronise an affordable phone maker, like Tecno and co.

The processor used in a smartphone play a huge role in determining the phones eventual cost. Why do you think Google Pixel 5 is not going with the latest version of Qualcomm's processor?

But, you see what MediaTek has done? They innovated around a more affordable smartphone SoC with similar specs to Qualcomm's. This way they can charge the smartphone manufacturers lesser for the internal system.

No doubt, MediaTek's approach gave rise to more smartphones priced at 100 dollars (₦ 39,000) or below.

When comparing SoC manufacturers, two questions come to mind. First, does a low budget mean poor performance? Specifically, does Qualcomm perform better than MediaTek?

Many variables come into play as you measure the performance of the two chipsets. While, the more expensive Qualcomm chipsets perform better than that of MediaTek the difference is not much. Because it depends on the actual chipset used. In fact, MediaTek processors have more cores which means improved multi-core performance. And no, low budget doesn't always mean poor performance.

MediaTek 5G Chipsets

MediaTek joined the 5G race late in 2019 when it unveiled its Dimensity 1000 processor.

The 5G chipset stands out from other processors by offering several services. The services offered include a 5G modem for 5G connectivity, support for sub-6Ghz networks and 5G dual sim.

But, because it doesn't offer 5G mmWave support it is not suitable for some network carriers in the US and Japan. Millimetre-wave (mmWave) is a short-range, high-frequency network technology that shows off what 5G can do.

The Dimensity 1000 offers a powerful octa-core CPU layout featuring four cortex-A77 cores. Having four cortex-A77 cores implies that its CPU performance is better than the Kirin 990 from Huawei. While being in the same category as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, in theory.

MediaTek Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)

MediaTek's GPU features the same mali-G77 graphics as Samsung's Exynos 990 seen in the recent high-end Galaxy S20 series. But, the MediaTek's silicon doesn't have as many graphics cores as the Exynos chipset, making it less powerful. Yet, MediaTek's cost-effectiveness makes it a good addition to mid-range smartphones.

At the mobile world congress 2014, MediaTek unveiled its new brand, Everyday Genius. It aims to make smartphones more accessible and affordable to the wider market.

In conclusion, MediaTek brings high-end features to mid-tier devices for everyone to access evolving mobile technology. We need to appreciate MediaTek Inc. for bringing necessary competition to the SoC industry, which paved the way for cheaper devices. The other chip makers mentioned in this article are Qualcomm (Snapdragon), Huawei (Kirin), Samsung (Exynos), and Apple (A-series Bionic chip).

Editorial support: Praise Nwagu.

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