Android Mobile Phone Chipset Review Q1 2019

Android Mobile Phone Chipset Review Q1 2019

The mobile phone market has remained strong (especially compared to wi-fi Android tablets) and the two Greater-China chipset companies leading the way in sales volume and new IC development are Mediatek (Taiwan) and Spreadtrum (China), which has recently started calling itself Unisoc.  

Qualcomm is the global leader in Android IC volume and is not included in this report.  Hatch focuses on making custom Android products. Making custom products using Qualcomm’s chipsets requires a higher volume commitment and cost than the aforementioned IC companies.  Hatch finds that clients rarely need or can justify Qualcomm’s requirements in light of the great alternatives.

All of Hatch’s projects to date have used either Mediatek or Spreadtrum ICs since their technology works well and they have easier platforms to engage with for making custom Android phones or tablets.  Additionally, these companies offer a broad range of ICs for the lower end or higher end projects.

5G chips are coming out soon, but not here yet so this article focuses on comparing the newest 4G Android (and Kai OS ;)) chipsets in the high, middle and low end.  When architecting custom electronics Hatch always recommends using the second newest chipsets.

The newest chipsets may have bugs to work out before becoming reliable enough for custom development.  Problems that come to light with newer chipsets and affect standard Android products with orders in the millions get addressed before problems found while making low volume (under 20k units) niche products.  

On the flipside, Hatch avoids using the most mature (read: oldest) chipsets for 3 main reasons.  

  1. IC companies and design houses dedicate more engineering resources to the newer, higher volume ICs.
  2. Custom products usually have longer life cycles than consumer products, therefore, we avoid chips that will go out of production (end of life) sooner.  
  3. Older ICs often require older components which likely cost more, have worse performance to price ratio, or aren’t being manufactured anymore and therefore tougher to source.

High End

In this category, Mediatek dominates as Spreadtrum doesn’t have any high-end offerings to compete.

MediaTek X30 MediaTek P70 MediaTek P60
Release Date Q2 2017 Q4 2018 Q1 2018
CPU Architecture 10-core Cortex-A35, Cortex-A53, Cortex-A73 8-core Cortex-A53, Cortex-A73 8-core Cortex-A53, Cortex-A73
GPU Architecture PowerVR GT7400 Plus Mali-G72 Mali-G72
Modem GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, W-CDMA, HSUPA, HSDPA, CDMA2000 1x, EV-DO, TD-SCDMA, LTE GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, W-CDMA, HSUPA, HSDPA, CDMA2000 1x, EV-DO, TD-SCDMA, LTE GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, W-CDMA, HSUPA, HSDPA, CDMA2000 1x, EV-DO, TD-SCDMA, LTE
Display Support

(highest resolution)

3840×2160 2160×1080 2160×1080
Camera Support 16MP+16MP 32MP,  20MP+16MP,  48MP Snapshot 32MP,  24MP+16MP
RAM Support LPDDR4X-3732 LPDDR4X-3600, LPDDR3-1866 LPDDR4X-3600, LPDDR3-1866
Manufacturing Process 10nm 12nm 12nm

 

Mid Level

There’s some competition in the mid-range.  Spreadtrum’s ‘high end’ offering competes with some of Mediatek’s older mid-range IC’s, but instead of focusing on older ICs the comparison will look at how newer chips compare to each other.

Mediatek’s 673X series has been wildly successful as a powerful (self-described) entry-level IC.  The newest and still popular MT6739 IC in this series doesn’t stack up with Spreadtrum’s top offering but doesn’t fall far behind either.

 

SC9853i SC9832E MT6739
Release Date Q4 2017 Q3 2018 Q3 2017
CPU Architecture Intel Airmont Architecture Octa-Core 1.8GHz 4-core 1.4GHz ARM Cortex-A53 4-core 1.5GHz ARM Cortex-A53
GPU Architecture Mali T820 MP2 Mali T820 MP1 IMG PowerVR GE8100
Modem GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, TD-LTE, FDD LTE, TD-SCDMA, WCDMA, LTE GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, TD-LTE, FDD LTE, TD-SCDMA, WCDMA, LTE GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, W-CDMA, HSUPA, HSDPA, CDMA2000 1x, EVDO, TD-SCDMA, LTE
Display Support

(highest resolution)

1920×1080 1440×720 1440×720
Camera Support 16 MP, 16MP + 8MP dual camera 13MP 13MP
RAM Support LPDDR3 LPDDR3 LPDDR3
Manufacturing Process Intel 14nm LP 28nm HPC+ 28nm

 

Low End

This category is dominated by Spreadtrum because it’s innovated along the bottom of the technology ladder in coming out with the 9820 series, a ‘smartphone’ IC, which runs the seldom-used Kai OS.  

This chipset may be interesting for some custom telecom device applications due to the lower power consumption, cost, and lightweight OS.  

There’s no Mediatek product to compare since the last dual core Mediatek IC, the 6572, hit the market in 2013 with 3G support and was subsequently replaced by the quad-core 6580 (also 3G) at a similar price point in 2015.

Kai OS has its own app store with a limited selection of popular Android/iOS apps that have been ported over.  This 9820 platform has been used in the smartwatch for a large Chinese brand as well as QWERTY quasi-feature/smartphones.

We’ll get more information about Kai OS and publish more information if there’s a good opportunity to use this operating system for custom development.

Yours truly, Ben Dolgin-Gardner, Hatch founder and Manufacturing Solution Expert