From a technological and brand reputation perspective, MediaTek has made significant gains in 2015. Early this year the media was abuzz with reports of Samsung’s Exynos 7420 chipset surpassing the performance of Qualcomm’s latest high-powered offering, the Snapdragon 810. However, MediaTek has also started to steal some of Qualcomm’s thunder with its Helio X10 SoC, which has graced many flagship devices in China and has been lauded for its comparable performance to the Snapdragon 810. The shift in manufacturers and consumers attitude towards MediaTek has been nothing short of dramatic. Previously known as a manufacturer of relatively low-cost and underperforming chipsets, at least when compared to Qualcomm, MediaTek has all but shed this characterization among everyone but the most dogmatic fans of the Snapdragon series.
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According to a report from Strategy Analytics, Qualcomm snapped up 66% of the global cellular baseband processor market in Q2 2014, which was followed by second place MediaTek with 15% market share. Of their respective shipments over 45% of Qualcomm’s were chipsets that included LTE radios, whereas less than 1% of MediaTek’s shipments were of the LTE variety; Qualcomm captured over 95% of the market for LTE equipped application processors. In stark contrast, MediaTek currently owns 20% of the 4G chip market in China, and expects this to grow to more than 50% in the second half of 2014, surpassing their goal of 40% set at the beginning of the year.
The drastic surge of MediaTek’s share of 4G equipped processors is a strong indicator of the company’s increasing presence in the mid to high-end smartphone market. So far this year MediaTek’s 4G growth is largely attributable to its high-end Helio X10 chipset launched at MWC in March, which has powered flagships such as the HTC One M9+. However, going forward MediaTek expects to rely on its recently announced mid-range offering, the Helio P10, to attain greater than 50% market share. The Helio P10 is a 64-bit SoC with eight ARM Cortex A53 cores, which will be found in devices shipping in Q3.
Considering the 10 core Helio X20, the follow-up to the X10, will also be available in products by the end of the year MediaTek is building a lot of momentum in the mid-range and high-end market. Between Samsung’s improved Exynos line and the release of MediaTek’s Helio chipsets the mobile processor market, which had been skewed in Qualcomm’s favor, has largely been leveled. This recent rise in competition will undoubtedly force Qualcomm to step up, lest they go the way of the dinosaur. It will certainly be interesting to see how the former darling of the enthusiast smartphone user responds.