Without a distrust, one of the most complex smartphone and tablets themes is its processors – also called the brain of a device – to carry out all tasks. To start with, it’s completely wrong to call them “processors” because they are much more than that. That’s why the frequently used name by manufacturers is SoC (system on a chip) as it explains their purpose more clearly.
Smartphone enthusiasts pick a smartphone with a processor that offers just the right amount of performance and power. In the market, the two common chipset manufacturers are Qualcomm Inc. and MediaTek Inc. In terms of market share, both companies are leading players, accounting for over 50% of the smartphone application processor market share combined. You must note that Qualcomm offers Snapdragon series of chipsets while MediaTek offers Helio and Dimensity lineup.
However, MediaTek has been more successful with its lineup, securing design wins with major smartphone manufacturers leading to it gaining share at the expense of Qualcomm.
So, the query is which company should you pick for Qualcomm Snapdragon or MediaTek. We’ve put together a handy detailed article on the Qualcomm Snapdragon vs MediaTek, covering their differences, characteristics, and reasons why you would opt for one or the other.
Qualcomm and MediaTek History With Powerful SoCs
Currently, Qualcomm is the leader of mobile chipsets. The best Android flagships out there in the market are powered by Qualcomm’s high-end chipset from the Snapdragon 8xx series. Due to Qualcomm’s domination, MediaTek was forced to exit the high-end mobile processor segment in 2017, after releasing the MediaTek Helio X30. And now it is trying to come back again with the Helio G90T. So, it has to face a lot of prejudices and it is in a disadvantaged position compared to Qualcomm.
As per the latest research by Counterpoint, a global analysis firm, the majority of smartphone brands are relying on MediaTek’s chipset to power affordable smartphones and tablets.
What is MediaTek?
Headquartered in Hsinchu, MediaTek Inc. is a Taiwanese fabless semiconductor company that provides chipsets that are the backbone of most electronic devices around you like televisions, handheld mobile devices like smartphones, and tablet computers, navigation systems, consumer multimedia devices, etc. A chipset controls everything in a device, right from its battery life to its performance. And MediaTek happens to be the 4th-largest company manufacturing chipsets.
You would be surprised to know how versatile the humble old chipset is: it’s used in smartphones, android tablets, Smart TVs, Blu-Ray and DVD players, and whatnot. MediaTek’s chipsets are so widely used that they can be found in 1 out of 3 devices in the world. They are the perfect balance of performance, power efficiency, pricing, and connectivity.
What MediaTek does can be broadly divided into three main areas:
1. Mobile: MediaTek breathes new life into a smartphone’s processor by making it more responsive to tasks, extending its battery life, and dabbling with AI. Their main aim is to ensure that even mid-tier devices showcase high-end features which makes accessibility to great technology a dream come true.
2. Home: Smart homes with their smart devices are all the rage nowadays. Reliable connectivity is the glue that binds Ultra HD videos, brilliant sound quality, and high speed together. What makes it even ‘smarter’ is the illusion of powerful AI features with the help of Edge AI which is no stranger to voice and facial recognition, dynamic intelligence, and much more.
3. Automotive: Self-driving cars are much closer to our reality than, say, dinosaurs which honestly seem too fictional to be true. MediaTek’s next venture is looking for automotive solutions that involve machine learning, near-and-long range connectivity solutions, and sensors.
Moreover, MediaTek’s recently-launched range of Helio G chipsets has taken gaming to the next level, especially in mid-tier smartphones, offering impressive features such as pose tracking, seamless and reliable connectivity, smarter imaging, uninterrupted gameplay, natural visual quality, and more.
In 2019, MediaTek joined the 5G race by launching the MediaTek Dimensity 1000 processor which offers an impressive integrated 5G modem and 5G+5G dual-SIM. It’s all set to make the barriers between mobile, home and auto vanish into the vast universe of the world wide web.
MediaTek’s main advantage over Qualcomm and Exynos is the price that can be up to two times lower for roughly the same performance. However, the biggest criticism for MediaTek’s processors is the extremely rapid warming and reach of high temperatures.
Characteristics of MediaTek Processor
Following are some of the characteristics of MediaTek processors:
- MediaTek chipset is not so economical.
- MediaTek SoCs consume more battery power.
- It has a high heating rate due to the number of processor cores.
- A small graphic chip is integrated within its chipset that is not produced by MediaTek.
- MediaTek chipset’s process power is supreme.
- In general, the MediaTek chipset offers more cores per processor.
What is Qualcomm Snapdragon?
Designed and marketed by Qualcomm Teclogies Inc., Snapdragon is a suite of system on a chip (SoC) semiconductor products for mobile devices which include a GPU (Graphical Processing Unit), a GPS (Global Positioning System), and cellular modem integrated into a single package. It also has software included that operates graphics, video, and picture-taking. Snapdragon’s central processing unit (CPU) uses the ARM architecture.
Also, Qualcomm often refers to the Snapdragon as a “mobile platform“. Qualcomm processors are best known for their Snapdragon series. There are 23 different Snapdragon chipset under the 200, 400, 600, 700, and 800 product lineup spanning from low to high-end respectively. In addition to mobile phones, the 400 series is used in smartwatches and the 602A is intended for electronics in cars.
The reason that Samsung has moved away from its Exynos chipset is enough to talk about the quality of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset. Qualcomm currently holds 65% of the 4G LTE market and is particularly dominant in China, where the five largest manufacturers use mainly their processors (Xiaomi, Huawei, TCL, ZTE, Lenovo).
Characteristics of Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor
Following are some of the characteristics of Qualcomm Snapdragon processors:
- Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets are the most secure.
- Snapdragon SoCs uses a little amount of battery.
- It generates less heat compared to MediaTek.
- A graphics plug produced by Qualcomm, Adreno, is always part of this chipset.
- Benchmark tests often show that the performance of the Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset is better than the rest.
Difference Between Snapdragon and MediaTek SoC
We have briefly mentioned the difference between Qualcomm Snapdragon and MediaTek on the following basis:
- Origin of Snapdragon and MediaTek
- Processor cores in Snapdragon and MediaTek
- CPU and GPU in Snapdragon and MediaTek
- Battery life of Snapdragon and MediaTek
- Price of Snapdragon and MediaTek
Origin of Snapdragon and MediaTek
Snapdragon processors are produced by Qualcomm, which is also an international semiconductor and IT equipment producing company, with headquarters in San Diego, California (United States). It was founded in 1985. Whereas, MediaTek is an international semiconductor company founded in 1997 with headquarters in Hsinchu, Taiwan.
Processor cores in Snapdragon and MediaTek
Both Snapdragon and MediaTek are multicore processors (1-2-4-6-8-10). MediaTek has started trial production of its 12 core chipset. However, we should know that it’s less important how many cores the processor has, and more what cores are doing.
CPU and GPU in Snapdragon and MediaTek
Comparing Qualcomm and MediaTek from the viewpoint of performance, there is nearly no difference in terms of CPU, but it’s clear that the graphics portion is better done by the GPU from Adreno installed in all Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs. This is especially noticeable in the high-end segment. The difference in GPU performance is less perceptible in the mid-range and low-end segments.
Battery Life of Snapdragon and MediaTek
MediaTek chipsets are known to be high power-consuming which results in short battery life. The company is improving their processors to be more energy efficient but are still behind Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoCs.
In terms of performance, Qualcomm Snapdragon has better performance in multi-tasking, handling heavy and intensive tasks, and gaming. Whereas, MediaTek’s processors are solid performing and their extra core processors enable rigorous and heavy task performing and they are good at multi-tasking.
Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs are generally less prone to heating compared to MediaTek.
Price of Snapdragon and MediaTek
MediaTek chipsets are often cheaper than similar Qualcomm Snapdragon solutions.
Qualcomm Snapdragon vs MediaTek: Comparison in Tabular Form
|Origin||Qualcomm is established in 1985 in San Diego||Established 1997 in Hsinchu|
|Processor Cores||Multicore (1-2-4-6-8-10)||Multicore (1-2-4-6-8-10-12)|
|CPU and GPU||Better, especially at the high-end segment||Average graphic performance|
|Performance||Superior performance||Solid performance|
Verdict: Qualcomm Snapdragon vs MediaTek
Generally, the processing power of both chipsets from MediaTek and Snapdragon is high. However, the differences between Qualcomm Snapdragon and MediaTek chipset are mostly imitated in battery consumption, i.e. endurance, as well as efficiency.
As per my view, Snapdragon is a more powerful and reliable chipset than MediaTek, but MediaTek is, therefore, a much more cost-efficient variant. You should go for Snapdragon if the day-to-day task is your main concern. For gaming, the MediaTek Helio G-series chipset should be the one to go for. Whereas, the stability, GCam support, and Custom ROM support are better on Snapdragon.