When MediaTek overtook Qualcomm to become the biggest smartphone chipset vendor in 2020, it did so by grabbing 31% of the smartphone SoC market. A year later, the Taiwanese company has not only managed to hold on to that position but has also significantly widened its lead over Qualcomm.
According to a recent Counterpoint Research report, MediaTek’s share in the smartphone chipset market — as of Q3 2021 — stands at 40%, showing an increase of seven percentage points compared to the same period in 2020. This increase was bolstered partly by a surge in demand for 4G LTE phones in emerging markets (like India), where 5G networks are still several years away. In comparison, Qualcomm, which had 28% of the global SoC market in 2020, found its market share drop to 27%.
Not all seems lost for Qualcomm when you look at data from another perspective. The company continues to be the undisputed leader in the 5G smartphone chips segment, with a massive 62% market share as of Q3 2021. To put things into perspective, just a year ago, Qualcomm only held 32% of the 5G SoC market. In the same period, MediaTek’s growth was less spectacular, increasing its share from 25% in 2020 to 28% in 2021.
The growth of MediaTek and Qualcomm in the 4G and 5G segments seems to have come at the expense of Samsung’s Exynos chipsets, whose market share plummeted from 10% to 5% in the span of a year. Things do not look great for Samsung in the
A surprise entry to the list this year is Chinese chipset maker Unisoc, which now has 10% of the market — compared to just 4% a year ago. Even though Unisoc is a relatively unknown entity in the West, the company did manage to cut exclusive deals with companies like Honor, Realme, Motorola, ZTE, and Transsion Holdings. However, its biggest achievement was a tie-up with Samsung to provide chipsets for some of its entry-level A series devices.
Another chipset vendor worth mentioning here is Huawei’s HiSilicon that has been decimated by the U.S. trade ban. As a result, the company is not in a position to manufacture new Kirin chipsets, and its existing inventory of chips is on the verge of exhaustion. This has eventually led to its market share falling to 4% from a respectable 13% in 2020.
With the deployment of 5G networks continuing at breakneck speed across the globe, it seems Qualcomm is better-placed than MediaTek from a growth perspective. However, given the pace at which this segment has evolved, if MediaTek plays its
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