MediaTek beats Qualcomm to become world’s biggest smartphone chipmaker

Taiwanese semiconductor company MediaTek surpassed American-based Qualcomm to become the world’s leading manufacturer of smartphone chips in Q3 2020.

This is according to data from Counterpoint Research, which stated that over 100 million smartphones sold in the third quarter of the year shipped with MediaTek processors – accounting for 31% of total sales.

Research director Dale Gai explained there were three reasons for MediaTek’s significant market share gain, namely:

  • Strong performance in the mid-end smartphone price segment of $100 to $250, particularly in key locations like China and India, and with growth in the Middle East Africa and Latin American regions.
  • The US ban on Huawei created demand for affordable MediaTek chips.
  • MediaTek’s wins in leading OEMs like Samsung, Xiaomi and Honor. The share of MediaTek chipsets in Xiaomi, for example, has increased by more than three times since the same period last year.

Gai added that Qualcomm had also benefitted from the Huawei ban and the resulting HiSilicon supply issues, with gains made in the high-end segment in particular.

Qualcomm’s chips were employed in 29% of all smartphones sold globally in the third quarter of 2020, while HiSilicon’s chips hit 12% of the market share.

The graph below shows the global smartphone market chip share of the largest manufacturers in Q3 2019 compared to Q3 2020.

5G smartphones on the rise

Although MediaTek lead overall sales, Qualcomm accounted for the largest number of 5G-capable smartphones sold in Q3, with 39% of the 5G phones sold worldwide using its chips.

5G smartphone shipments posted substantial growth in the third quarter overall, with 17% of all smartphones featuring the latest connectivity standard.

Research analyst Ankit Malhotra said that the immediate focus of chipset vendors will be to bring 5G to the masses.

This will then “unlock the potential of consumer 5G use cases like cloud gaming, which in turn will lead to higher demand for higher clocked GPUs and more powerful processors.”

“Qualcomm and MediaTek will continue to contend for the top position,” Malhotra noted.

Counterpoint Research anticipated that a third of all smartphones sold in the final quarter of 2020 will be 5G-enabled.

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MediaTek beats Qualcomm to become world’s biggest smartphone chipmaker