MediaTek Strengthens Premium Push With Gen AI Capabilities

  • The Dimensity 9300 is integrated with the 7th-gen APU 790 processor, which supports a broad generative AI ecosystem and models including Meta Llama 2, Baidu ERNIE 3.5 SE and Baichuan 2.
  • It can run with 13 billion parameters, which are scalable up to 33 billion, on-device at a processing speed of up to 20 tokens per second.
  • The Dimensity 9300 will debut with the vivo X100 smartphone in mid-November

MediaTek recently launched its third-generation premium chipset Dimensity 9300. The company has emerged as a strong competitor in the premium smartphone chipset market after launching the Dimensity 9000 in Q1 2022. Currently, MediaTek leads the low-mid segment and drives significant volumes both for 4G and 5G in this tier.
Adopting a non-traditional CPU core design, the Dimensity 9300 focuses on raw performance. It has four large cores (Cortex-X4) and four performance cores (Cortex-A720 cores), thus enabling it to excel in raw computing power and advanced AI capabilities.

Mediatek Dimensity 9300 Features

Dimensity 9300 key specifications

Like the last two generations, the Dimensity 9300 SoC is built on a TSMC 4nm process node. It is more efficient and performs better than the Dimensity 9200. There is a 40% improvement in the multi-core performance and a 15% improvement in the single-core performance. The Dimensity 9300 combines an octa-core CPU with the company’s second-generation hardware raytracing engine, enabling smartphones to achieve console-level global illumination effects at a smooth 60 FPS. Besides, the chipset supports seamless multitasking, allowing users to simultaneously play games and stream videos or watch a video while gaming.

  • Four ARM Cortex-X4 CPU. Prime core clocked at up to 3.25GHz
  • Four ARM Cortex-A720 CPU clocked at up to 2.0GHz

Mediatek Dimensity 9300 CPU Architecture

7th-gen APU 790 processor

The chip is equipped with MediaTek’s next-generation APU 790 processor, which reduces power consumption by 45% while improving performance. Its processing speed is eight times that of the APU 690. It also offers significant improvements in generative AI performance and energy efficiency for edge computing. The APU 790 is specifically designed for generative AI tasks, marking a substantial upgrade over its predecessor. It accelerates processing through the Transformer model and supports image generation within one second using Stable Diffusion. The APU 790 also supports large language models with up to 33 billion parameters. MediaTek has also implemented mixed-precision INT4 quantization technology and NeuroPilot memory hardware compression to optimize memory usage for large AI models.

Mediatek Dimensity 9300 APU

The Dimensity 9300 has a strong AI generative ecosystem, which supports language models like Llama 2, Baichuan 2 and Baidu AI LLM. It helps developers to efficiently deploy multi-modal generative AI applications for users.

Immortalis-G720 GPU

With the integration of ARM’s latest GPU, the Immortalis-G720, the Dimensity 9300 offers almost a 46% boost in GPU performance and 40% power reduction compared to the Dimensity 9200.

Mediatek Dimensity 9300 GPU

The Dimensity 9300 chipset supports the new Ultra HDR format in Android 14, improving mobile photography with vibrant images and compatible JPEG files. It also offers ambient light adaptive HDR recovery technology for enhanced photography. It supports 100% pixel-level autofocus, dual lossless zoom and 3-microphone HDR audio recording.

The chipset’s display system is equipped with the MiraVision Picture Quality (PQ) engine which dynamically adjusts the contrast, sharpness and color of primary objects, resulting in lifelike video experiences similar to high-end TVs. It uses on-device AI to detect primary objects and background images in real time.

Enhanced connectivity

The Dimensity 9300 offers Wi-Fi 7 speeds up to 6.5 Gbps and improved long-range connectivity with Xtra Range 2.0 Technology. It also enhances smartphone tethering speeds by up to three times using Multi-Link Hotspot technology. The Dimensity 9300 also supports up to three Bluetooth antennas and features dual Bluetooth flash connection technology for an ultra-low latency Bluetooth audio experience.

DRAM support and security

The Dimensity 9300 is the first SoC that supports the LPDDR5T up to 9600 Mbps. Also, it integrates two SUPs, one for boot security and one for computing security.

Dimensity 9300 vs Snapdragon 8 Gen 3

In terms of specifications, the Dimensity 9300 uses all big core architecture 4 prime cores (Cortex-X4) and 4 big cores (Cortex-A720), whereas the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 uses one prime (Cortex-X4), five big (Cortex-A720) and two small cores (Cortex-A520). MediaTek with its all-big core design is addressing generative AI and gaming applications. On paper, the Dimensity 9300’s AI performance is competitive. The Dimensity 9300 supports large language models that can run with 13 billion parameters, whereas the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 can run with 10 billion parameters on-device.

The fact that MediaTek now offers performance and efficiency gains that are comparable to Qualcomm’s latest-generation flagship offerings, shows MediaTek wants to directly compete with Qualcomm in the premium segment. Overall, this is going to be a win-win for the industry, as it will raise the bar and, in turn, benefit the end users.

A table showing the differences between Mediatek Dimensity 9300 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3

Expected timeline

The vivo X100 will be the first smartphone to carry the Dimensity 9300 chipset. It will be available in the market by the end of 2023. We expect that the Dimensity 9300 will have better adoption among Chinese OEMs compared to the Dimensity 9200. China will be the first target market for smartphones with the Dimensity 9300, followed by India, SEA and Europe.

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NVIDIA and Qualcomm: Shaping the Software-defined Vehicle

  • Both NVIDIA and Qualcomm are working to exploit autonomous driving and the in-vehicle experience.
  • NVIDIA has announced a new SoC – Drive Thor – which will replace Drive Orin.
  • Qualcomm has introduced the Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC portfolio, the “industry’s first super-compute class SoC portfolio”.

The automotive industry is moving towards software-defined vehicles. We expect a centralized approach to the powerful processors that will be needed to manage the data flowing from the various sensors, and running machine learning (ML) models for safe automated driving.

NVIDIA and Qualcomm have pivoted their business to address the automotive opportunity as the traditional car is becoming an extension of computers and smartphones. Both companies are working to exploit autonomous driving and the in-vehicle experience. As the car becomes more intelligent, these two areas have the highest growth opportunities.

NVIDIA recently held its GTC event and Qualcomm an investor day focusing on its automotive business. In this blog, we will look at key announcements from both players in relation to autonomous driving and the digital cockpit.


From September 19 to September 22, 2022, NVIDIA held its bi-annual event called GTC, where it announced a new SoC – Drive Thor – which will replace Drive Orin. Earlier, at GTC 2021, NVIDIA unveiled its plan for Drive Atlan SoC to target 2025 models and replace Drive Orin. But Atlan appears to have been scrapped. So, Thor will be ready for vehicles arriving in 2025. The Thor processor is packed with high-power computing to support the idea of having a single chip to handle autonomous driving and cockpit functions. To put this into perspective, Thor can handle 2,000 trillion operations per second (TOPS), which is twice the speed of Atlan and eight times the speed of the current Orin processor.

                                                                                           NVIDIA DRIVE SoC Roadmap

NVIDIA has already announced its first partnership for Drive Thor with Chinese car company Zeekr. Thor will be first used in an EV model from Zeekr in 2025. Currently, the Drive Orin chip is used in models including the Li Auto L9, Nio ET7 and the recently launched Xpeng G9.

Qualcomm Automotive Investor Day

Qualcomm held its first-ever Automotive Investor Day in New York immediately after the conclusion of NVIDIA’s GTC. Qualcomm, whose automotive business is flourishing thanks to its connectivity and digital cockpit solutions, has seen the majority of the design wins since the launch of its Snapdragon Digital Chassis. During the event, the company introduced the Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC portfolio, which Nakul Duggal, Qualcomm’s Senior Vice President and General Manager of Automotive, called the “industry’s first super-compute class SoC portfolio”. This will be a family of chips that helps Qualcomm to scale down from high tier to entry tier. The software architecture of the chips will be Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) compliant. The company has not revealed much information on the Flex SoC, but the graphics displayed during the event show that the Flex SoC will have around 2,000 TOPS of computing power to handle operations like the cockpit, driver assistance, automated driving, and connectivity functions.

                                                                                                                Snapdragon Ride Flex Soc Family
                                                                                                           Central Compute Scalable Architecture

Another announcement that underscores Qualcomm’s strong position in digital cockpit solutions is that starting in 2023, Mercedes-Benz’s in-vehicle infotainment (MBUX) will be powered by a Snapdragon chip.  Currently, Mercedes’ S-class MBUX is powered by NVIDIA chips. In the last 10 months, 20 models have been launched with Qualcomm’s digital cockpit solutions. Qualcomm sees a total automotive market of $100 billion by 2030 with ADAS/AD being the major contributor with around 60%, followed by digital cockpit with a TAM of $25 billion.

                                                                                                              Qualcomm Automotive TAM

Now, let us look at both companies to compare where they stand and which of them has the upper hand in the automotive industry:


Qualcomm has a little bigger portfolio as it has offerings in connectivity, in-vehicle infotainment and ADAS/AD domains. Qualcomm integrates all these services under one umbrella term called Snapdragon Digital Chassis. NVIDIA, on the other hand, offers solutions for the cockpit and autonomous driving but does not have a portfolio in connectivity. Hence, the battleground for the two semiconductor companies is autonomous driving and smart cabin features. NVIDIA calls its offerings for the automotive industry DRIVE.


In the second quarter of the fiscal year 2023 (FY23), NVIDIA’s automotive segment had the best quarter with revenue of $220 million, an increase of 59% QoQ and 45% YoY. FY20 saw the highest ever automotive revenue of $700 million, achieved due to the success of the Tegra processor, which once powered Tesla’s infotainment (media control unit) and instrument cluster. The automotive business has already reached the $358-million mark in the first half of FY23. With more models, like the Polestar 3 and Volvo EX90, driven by Orin chip ready to be launched this year, it is likely to cross $700 million by the end of FY23. During the Q2 earnings call, the company described Q2 FY23 as the inflection point for its automotive revenue.

                                                                                                     NVIDIA Automotive Quarterly Revenue

Qualcomm also recorded its highest ever automotive revenue in the third quarter of FY22 by reaching the $350-million mark. The automotive revenue is mainly driven by connectivity and an increase in demand for its digital cockpit products. This year, Qualcomm launched 20 new models with a digital cockpit. The future growth in the automotive business will be mainly driven by the digital cockpit. From FY26, the company is expecting its ADAS/AD services to scale up and experience a ramp-up starting in 2026.

                                                                                               Qualcomm Automotive Quarterly Revenue

Qualcomm is expecting to finish FY22 with $1.3 billion in automotive revenue, up from $975 million in FY21. At present, the cumulative automotive revenue for FY22 stands at $945 million. Qualcomm is realizing the segment’s growth potential with the current and future product roadmap. As a result, the company has increased its targets for FY26 from $3.5 billion to $4 billion. For FY31, it has revised its forecast revenue from $8 billion to more than $9 billion.

                                                                                                                      Revenue Forecast

Design-win pipeline

NVIDIA announced that its design-win pipeline had reached over $11 billion (in FY23) for the next six years from over $8 billion in FY22 due to the traction earned by the Drive Orin SoC. Currently, Orin has over 35 customers, which include automobile, truck and robotaxi companies.

                                                                                                                    NVIDIA  Design-win Logos
                                                                                                                  NVIDIA Automotive Partners

Qualcomm’s design-win pipeline has reached $30 billion, up from $19 billion two months ago, and has more than doubled in the last 10 months from $13 billion. As the automobile industry is moving towards more advanced driving systems and highly automated driving, most of the design wins are coming from ADAS/AD, followed by the digital cockpit. With over 50+ customers for the digital cockpit, ADAS/AD has not been able to mark its presence or gain traction from car companies or robotaxis like NVIDIA, barring a few customers like BMW, Stellantis, VW, Renault and Great Wall Motor. Qualcomm will announce the design win for the new Flex SoC at CES 2023.

                                                                                                                      Snapdragon Ride Design-Win
                                                                                                              Qualcomm Automotive Partnerships


NVIDIA has enjoyed early success with its chips like Parker (1 TOPS) and Xavier (30 TOPS), required to perform Level 2 and 2+ functions. The Xavier SoC can be seen on models like the Xpeng P7 and IM L7. NVIDIA, known for its high-power computing chips for gaming and data centers, leverages its technology to introduce high-power computing chips like Orin and now Thor. Due to the legacy of its GPU, AI chips and the availability of a high-power computing platform to support autonomous driving, it has generated interest from car manufacturers, robotaxi companies and self-driving truck companies like Kodiak.

Compared to its competitor, Qualcomm entered the ADAS/AD market late. During CES 2020, the company entered the self-driving market by unveiling its Snapdragon Ride Platform. The platform ranges from 30 TOPS for Level 1/2 functions to 700 TOPS for Level 4/5 applications. GM is the first company to use Snapdragon Ride for its hands-free assisted driving. The Ultra Cruise will be powered by two Snapdragon SA8540P SoCs and one SA9000 AI. The platform will be making its debut in the Chinese market in October as Great Wall Motor will start selling its Mocca DHT-PHEV LiDAR variant fitted with Snapdragon Ride. So far, Qualcomm has managed wins with few OEMs and has not been able to win any robotaxi or self-driving truck customers. With its latest announcement of Flex SoC, which will directly compete with Drive Thor, we expect Qualcomm to remedy this gap.

Both companies are adopting a similar approach of taking all their technologies and integrating them into a single chip to make it a central computing hub for the vehicle. However, the major difference is that NVIDIA is at the top of its game when it comes to advanced computing, while Qualcomm brings in a more integrated solution, from connectivity to cockpit to ADAS/AD, to get closer to NVIDIA in terms of compute capabilities but at relatively very low power. We believe that extreme low-power high computations with a very scalable architecture for battery-powered devices is Qualcomm’s biggest advantage over NVIDIA which has helped the company attract a design win pipeline almost triple of NVIDIA, as power efficiency for future EV-based vehicles is going to be the key.

It would be great to hear more about the power-versus-performance metrics which Qualcomm can achieve against NVIDIA in the months running up to CES 2023.

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Qualcomm Dominates Premium Android Smartphone Chip Market in Q1 2022

Both Qualcomm and MediaTek posted healthy growth in Q1 2022. MediaTek recorded an impressive set of numbers for the quarter with revenues growing 32% YoY and 10.2% QoQ to reach $4.8 billion. Qualcomm saw its third consecutive quarterly record revenue in Q1 2022 at $11.6 billion. Its business units recorded annual growth of between 28% and 61%.

MediaTek led the Android smartphone SoC market in 2021 with a 44% share, followed by Qualcomm with 35%, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Global Handset Model Sales Tracker.

Qualcomm’s focus on the premium smartphone segment (>$500) has helped it to grow revenues. Its Snapdragon 800 series and Snapdragon 700 series, notably the flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Snapdragon 778G, are both key volume drivers. Furthermore, Qualcomm has gained a 75% share of Samsung’s Galaxy S22 series shipments. In previous Samsung flagship models, there was a more equitable split between Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered SKUs and Samsung Exynos-powered SKUs. Qualcomm is also driving more revenues with its RFFE (RF Front End), allowing it to capture a higher share in the BoM.

MediaTek dominates the low-mid tier wholesale price segment ($100-$299), driven by its Dimensity 700 and Dimensity 900 series. Also, the 4G SoC in the <$199 price band is driven by the P35, G80 and G35 chipset models. MediaTek has entered the premium segment with the Dimensity 9000 series, but the sales will only start to pick up in Q2 2022.

AP Chipset Share for Android Smartphones by Price Band, Q1 2022

SOC by smartphone price tier Counterpoint


  • Qualcomm is focusing on the premium (>$500) and mid-high ($300-$499) segments for revenue growth. Qualcomm is an industry benchmark when it comes to premium smartphones.
  • Qualcomm’s focus is on the 7 and 8 series Snapdragon chipsets, which drive higher revenue and profitability. Qualcomm acknowledged it has seen a slowdown in the low- and mid-price tiers. But this was more than offset by strong premium-tier sales.
  • Further, the design wins with 75% of sales of the Galaxy S22 family, up from 45% of the S21 family, helped Qualcomm strengthen its position in the premium Android segment in Q1 2022.
  • According to Counterpoint’s Global Smartphone AP-SoC Shipments and Forecast Tracker, the premium segment Qualcomm Snapdragon 700 and 800 series contributed around 68% of the AP/SoC shipments in Q1 2022.
  • Qualcomm’s share in the >$500 band increased from 47% in Q1 2020 to 71% in Q1 2022, growing 23% YoY in Q1 2022, owing to the launch of its Snapdragon 888 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipsets.
  • Focus on the premium segment will help Qualcomm ride out the slow China market, global macro-economic situation and high inventories.


  • MediaTek dominated the <$299 price tier and drove significant volumes both for 4G and 5G in this tier. Entry of the Dimensity 9000 enables MediaTek to capture share in the premium band (>$500). This is the first time MediaTek has entered this tier. MediaTek has already announced design wins with Chinese smartphone OEMs like OPPO, vivo, Xiaomi and HONOR. This opens more competition and opportunities for growth in the premium segment.
  • The volume in the ≤$99 price band was driven by LTE smartphones, where MediaTek captured a 47% share. LTE SoCs have been affected by the ongoing shortages and will be in short supply in 2022.
  • In the $100-$299 price band for Android, MediaTek captured a 60% share in Q1 2022 driven by its Dimensity 700 and 900 series.
  • MediaTek will continue to gain share in the $100-$299 price band as 5G penetrates markets like India, APAC others, LATAM and MEA. Smartphone OEMs like Xiaomi, Samsung, OPPO and vivo will likely launch affordable 5G smartphones under $200.
  • MediaTek has entered the premium segment with its Dimensity 9000 series. However, the sales are only expected to pick up in Q2 2022.
  • Overall, we forecast around an 8% share for MediaTek in the premium segment in 2022. MediaTek growth in Q2 2022 is expected to come from mid-high range phones due to the shifting of demand from LTEto 5G AP/SOCs. Further, with the launch of the Dimensity 8000 series, MediaTek wants to focus on and consolidate the $300-$499 price bands. This will also help MediaTek pivot volumes from the low-mid segment to mid-high to premium segments.


  • Samsung Exynos’ share declined in Q1 2022 due to the loss in share to Qualcomm in the Galaxy S22 series and also due to the low yields of the 4nm premium Exynos chipsets.
  • Share in the premium segment declined from 34% in Q1 2021 to 23% in Q1 2022.
  • Samsung has launched the Galaxy A33 and A53 with its Exynos 1280 SoCs. These are the volume drivers that will help it to regain share from MediaTek and Qualcomm through the rest of 2022.
  • In the low-mid segment ($100-$299), Samsung’s share declined to 7% in Q1 2022 from 10% in Q1 2021 due to outsourcing of its models (A, F and M series) to ODMs, which integrated mostly Qualcomm, MediaTek or UNISOC solutions in different models depending on the target price bands.
  • In the low tier, Samsung is using UNISOC SOCs in the Galaxy A03 smartphone. The share of Samsung smartphones is almost negligible in this segment.


  • UNISOC continues to gain share in the low bands (<$99) driven by the LTE portfolio. Its share in the <$99 band grew to 47% in Q1 2022 from 20% in Q1 2021.
  • With realme, HONOR, Motorola and Samsung launching phones with its Tiger series SoC, UNISOC has expanded its customer base with design wins at ZTE and TECNO and entry into the Samsung Galaxy A series.
  • It has also captured an 8% share in the $100-$199 price band with HONOR, realme and Samsung.
  • For 2022, we expect UNISOC to maintain the momentum with its portfolio catering to LTE smartphones, as MediaTek struggles with supply issues for 4G chipsets and Qualcomm focuses on 5G solutions. Also, a few design wins with 5G chipsets will add to its overall volumes and help support its value growth.


  • We expect HiSilicon volumes to decline in 2022 as the inventory is depleted. Huawei has already started using Qualcomm SoCs in its new launches, but these are limited to 4G due to the prevailing US sanctions.

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Qualcomm Bolsters Automotive Presence with One More Deal

Qualcomm has inked a deal with Stellantis, the world’s fourth-largest automaker.  Stellantis controls a large number of iconic brands including Fiat, Jeep, Peugeot, Chrysler and Maserati. Stellantis will power its new vehicles with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Digital Chassis, which Qualcomm introduced during the IAA Mobility show in 2021. Snapdragon Digital Chassis, with its modular approach, enables automakers to build connected and smart vehicles, and meet the ever-growing demand for safer and more intelligent cars.

Digital Chassis is a set of open and scalable cloud-connected platforms to improve safety and the in-vehicle experience. It includes:

Snapdragon Car-to-Cloud: a platform that allows automakers to generate new revenue streams by introducing new services, features, and performance upgrades to the vehicle.

Snapdragon Auto Connectivity: provides a host of advanced connectivity solutions, where Qualcomm is the leader globally like 5G, C-V2X, LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS/GNSS, etc for connecting the car to the cloud, internet and the infrastructure.

Snapdragon Ride: offers advanced driver assistance and automated driving solutions which is further enhanced with the recent acquisition of Arriver.

Snapdragon Cockpit: allows automakers to provide a more immersive in-car experience with enhanced graphics, visuals and intuitive human-machine interactions

Source: Qualcomm

The multi-year partnership

Stellantis will use Snapdragon Digital Chassis across all its 14 brands to provide smarter vehicles and a more immersive in-vehicle experience. The technology will be introduced in vehicles from the year 2024 and starts with the luxury brand Maserati.

In December 2021, Stellantis announced its plans to develop software-based platforms powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and will deploy them in vehicles from 2024. There will be three platforms: STLA Brain, STLA SmartCockpit and STLA AutoDrive.

The STLA Brain is the new electrical/electronic (E/E) and software architecture for new vehicles. It is fully cloud-integrated to provide Over-the-Air (OTA) capabilities. STLA SmartCockpit is built on top of the STLA Brain and offers AI-based applications like navigation, voice assistance, and in-vehicle payments. The STLA AutoDrive platform provides level 3 autonomous driving technology, which Stellantis is co-developing with BMW.

Source: Stellantis

The STLA SmartCockpit is designed with Amazon and Foxconn to deliver a connected and personalized in-vehicle experience and Qualcomm’s Digital Chassis will be integral to SmartCockpit.  The Snapdragon Cockpit Platform will power an advanced touch and voice-controlled multi-display cockpit, with rich graphics, high-quality audio, and clear voice communications. The Snapdragon Cockpit Platform will bring additional levels of digital intelligence to enhance the STLA Brain, improving convenience and safety features, including a personal assistant, OTA updates, vehicle performance upgrades, diagnostics and repair, and more.

Source: Qualcomm

Key Takeaways

  • Qualcomm is cementing its position as a leading technology provider in the automotive industry with this deal. Its automotive segment revenue is growing strongly; its automotive design-win pipeline increased to $13 billion in 2021 from $3 billion in 2017.
  • Stellantis will be able to bring one uniform cockpit platform and 5G telematics solutions across all 14 of its brands.
  • Working directly with the chipmaker, Stellantis can closely monitor the supply chain to avoid, or limit, supply-chain disruptions such as the ones the auto industry has experienced recently.
  • Since the launch of Snapdragon Digital Chassis, Qualcomm has signed partnerships with major global players including Renault, GM, Ferrari, Honda, and Volvo.
  • Major wins so far have come from the digital cockpit and connectivity solutions, while a few (GM and BMW) are for the Snapdragon ride (ADAS/AD) platform. With the acquisition of Arriver, Qualcomm is likely to sign more deals with Tier-1s and automakers in the future to expand its automotive pipeline.
Source: Counterpoint

Qualcomm Gains Share in Smartphone AP/SoC Shipments in Q4 2021; MediaTek Continues to Lead

  • Qualcomm’s share reached 30% driven by the premium tier.
  • UNISOC had a strong Q4 with its share reaching 11%.
  • Qualcomm led the 5G baseband market with a 76% share.

Seoul, Taipei, Beijing, New Delhi, London, Boston, Toronto, Hong Kong – February 24, 2022

The global smartphone AP (Application Processor)/SoC (System on Chip) chipset shipments grew 5% YoY in Q4 2021, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Foundry and AP/SoC service. 5G smartphone SoC shipments were almost half of the total SoC shipments.

Research Director Dale Gai said, “MediaTek led the smartphone SoC market with a share of 33%. Its smartphone SoC volumes declined this quarter due to the high shipments in the first half and inventory corrections from Chinese smartphone OEMs. Many customers had built chipset inventories to manage uncertainties in the supply situation.”

On the growth outlook, Gai added, “We expect revenues to grow in Q1 2022 driven by the flagship chipset (Dimensity 9000) for smartphones. Higher 5G penetration will offset the lower seasonal demand. The increase in chipset prices after TSMC’s wafer price hike is reflected from Q4 2021 onwards. 5G migration in regions like APAC, MEA and LATAM and continued LTE demand will help MediaTek have a strong 2022.”

Global Smartphone AP/SoC Shipment Market Share (%), Q4 2020 vs Q4 2021

Source: Counterpoint Research Quarterly AP/SoC/Baseband Shipments Tracker, February 2022

Commenting on Qualcomm’s performance, Senior Analyst Parv Sharma said, “Qualcomm recorded a very strong quarter, growing 18% QoQ and 33% YoY despite component shortages and foundry capacity not being able to keep up with demand. Qualcomm was able to prioritize high-end Snapdragon sales, which come with higher profitability and less impact from shortages than mid-end and low-end mobile handsets. The company was also able to increase supplies from its major foundry partners by dual-sourcing key products. It captured a 76% share in the 5G baseband shipments driven by Apple’s iPhone 13 and 12 series and premium Android portfolio.”

Commenting on the growth opportunities, Sharma added, “Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 flagship mobile platform will start shipping from Q1 2022. The performance in Q1 2022 will be driven by design wins in the Samsung Galaxy S22 series and launches in the Chinese New Year. Overall, the next inflexion in growth will be in H2 2022 with the launch of 5G handsets by major OEMs. The share of revenues from Android is also growing as more OEMs are adopting Qualcomm’s modem-to-antenna RFFE solution across tiers.”

Global 5G Smartphone Baseband Shipment Market Share (%), Q4 2020 vs Q4 2021

Source: Counterpoint Research Quarterly AP/SoC/Baseband Shipments Tracker, February 2022


MediaTek led the smartphone SoC market in Q4 2021 with a 33% share. Shipments declined due to inventory correction as many customers had built inventories due to supply chain constraints.

Qualcomm grew 18% sequentially due to the premium segment and dual-sourcing from foundries. It dominated the 5G baseband modem shipments with a 76% share, driven by basebands for Apple and premium Android.

Apple maintained its third position in the smartphone SoC market in Q4 2021 with a 21% share. The iPhone 13 launch and festive season drove the shipments.

UNISOC continued with shipment growth this year and reached an 11% share in Q4 2021. On an annual basis, its SoC shipments more than doubled in 2021. It has expanded its customer base, securing design wins with HONOR, realme, Motorola, ZTE, Transsion and Samsung.

Samsung Exynos slipped to the fifth position with a 4% share as Samsung is in the middle of rejigging its smartphone portfolio strategy of in-sourcing as well as outsourcing to Chinese ODMs. As a result, the share of MediaTek and Qualcomm has been growing across Samsung’s smartphone portfolio, from the mid-range 4G and 5G models manufactured by ODMs to the flagship ones.

HiSilicon was unable to manufacture Kirin chipsets due to the US trade ban against Huawei. The accumulated inventory of Kirin SoCs is on the verge of being exhausted. As a result, Huawei is launching its latest series with Qualcomm SoCs but is limited to 4G capabilities.

For our comprehensive research on foundries to chipsets to devices, feel free to get in touch with us at the contacts given below.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

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Qualcomm Diversification Strategy is Working

New Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon held his first earnings conference call with a great first quarter at the helm. Qualcomm is best known for its Snapdragon mobile phone chips. However, the quarter’s highlight was the growth of other divisions — RF front-end, automotive and IoT. These three divisions are expected to deliver $10 billion in revenue during 2021 and grow over 80% YoY, which is 1.6 times faster than Qualcomm’s mainstay Snapdragon chips. These results were set in motion years ago by former CEO Steve Mollenkopf. It was not long ago that Qualcomm was in the midst of courtroom battles with governments and customers, and also saw a hostile takeover attempt. Today, because of its focus and leadership in 5G, there are growing, new business units that are taking the pressure off the mobile chips and licensing business.

Other takeaways from Qualcomm’s quarter ended June 27:

  • Qualcomm expects it will become the largest RF front-end supplier by revenue this year. The joint ventures and investments made years ago are paying off. A modem-to-antenna system becomes more important in 5G due to the increased complexities. Most of Qualcomm’s 5G SoC customers are choosing the company’s RF front-end systems.
  • Impressive quarter for the latest high-end Snapdragon, the Snapdragon 888. Its design wins increased more than 20% QoQ.
  • Further, the company noted the strength of its high-end 8-series mobile platform’s momentum. More than half of the 5G smartphone design wins are taking the high-end 8-series route. This is partly because high-end/high-margin smartphones were prioritized due to component shortages. Despite this, it was a solid quarter for the 8-series. Qualcomm’s customer base is growing here.
  • Multi-sourcing strategies have helped. Qualcomm has multi-sourced the production of the 778G between Samsung and TSMC. The company says it is on track to materially improve supply by the end of 2021.
  • Qualcomm has 155 5G license agreements, up 33% QoQ. It expects 5G handset sales in 2021 to land between 450 million and 550 million.
  • On its fourth generation of mmWave, Qualcomm continues to lead in the 5G mmWave space. To date, it has mainly seen volumes in the US and Japan. However, there are over 180 mobile operators in the world investing in 5G mmWave. The key country to watch is China. China is expected to have a limited 5G mmWave launch ready for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. The scale China would bring to mmWave would help other countries and regions roll out the technology more aggressively.
  • IoT revenues grew 83% to $1.4 billion. The growth was fueled by industrial platforms and consumer EDGE networking hardware.
  • Qualcomm’s automotive division has grown to a $1 billion per quarter business. These products include digital cockpit and cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) solutions, automotive telematics, and connectivity platforms. Qualcomm is riding the wave of more connected cars and more infotainment systems being added to cars.
  • There are other areas with rich potential. They are in the development stages and seldom attract as much attention as mobile chips:
    • Qualcomm is in a good position with 5G mobile XR, PC-tethered XR and ‘boundless XR’. The company is a supplier to key XR OEMs with its Snapdragon XR2 platform and Snapdragon X55 5G modem – RF system. As XR grows, Qualcomm is positioned to grow with it.
    • Qualcomm is riding the wave of increased wearables growth. With Google and Samsung teaming up and hardware performance leaps continuing, there will be better diversification of smartwatches. Expect more optimized designs for children, seniors, sports/fitness, enterprise/B2B and fashion.
    • As mobile networks become virtualized, flexible and disaggregated, Qualcomm has solutions for 5G RAN platforms, including those for small cells.
    • Qualcomm will be able to ride the growth of 5G mobile gaming. The mobile gaming experience is vastly improving with 5G due to its better reliability and lower latency. Qualcomm Elite Gaming offers quick touch with 20% improvement on input response, supports over one billion shades of color, and is available on Android streaming platforms.

As chip shortages continue, demand will be stronger than supply in all of Qualcomm’s business units. 2021 continues to look very promising for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoCs for smartphones, as well as for all of the other growing business units.

Foundry Strategy & Chipsets Supply Shaping Smartphone SoC Competitive Dynamics in 2021

Seoul, Taipei, Beijing, London, Boston, Toronto, New Delhi, Hong Kong – May 3, 2021

  • MediaTek to lead global smartphone SoC market with 37% share whereas Qualcomm will lead the global 5G smartphone SoC market with 30% share.
  • The leading-edge nodes (7nm, 6nm and 5n) will account for almost half of the smartphone shipment volume during 2021.
  • 5G AP/SoC chipset volumes will more than double annually in 2021.

The competitive dynamics in the smartphone AP/SoC market is changing fast for the fabless SoC vendors such as Qualcomm, MediaTek, Apple and others. The market outlook for these vendors is being shaped by not only the breadth and depth of the capabilities or tiering of the chipset portfolio but also by the choice, the share of the capacities across different edge-nodes at the foundries. Global smartphone AP (Application Processor)/SoC (System on Chip) chipset shipments will grow 3% YoY in 2021, factoring in the impact of supply constraint, rapid growth of 5G smartphones and related competitive dynamics according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Foundry & Application Processor (AP/SoC) research.

Commenting on the research, Research Director Dale Gai said, “When we break down our forecast with respect to the current demand-supply dynamics, MediaTek is likely to continue its Q4 2020 momentum into 2021 and likely to capture 37% unit share of all the smartphone AP/SoC shipped for the full the year. This 20% potential annual uptick in demand is a function of competitive 5G portfolio powering sub-$150 5G smartphones manufactured at TSMC without any supply constraint and growing share in 4G segment. Further, MediaTek in the first half of 2021 will benefit from Qualcomm’s current supply constraints around RFICs (radio-frequency integrated circuits) from Samsung’s Austin fab, Power management ICs (PMIC), and relatively lower 5nm production yields.”

Exhibit 1: Global Smartphone AP/SoC Market Share (%) Outlook

Counterpoint Research: Global smartphone chipset share Mediatek leads in 2021 with 32% share
Global smartphone chipset share

Source: Counterpoint Research – Foundry & SoC Outlook, Apr 2021

Mr Gai, added, “However, we believe Qualcomm to bounce back strongly in H2 2021, firstly by securing greater capacity at TSMC to boost its 5G-centric tiered Snapdragon portfolio. Secondly, taking key steps to improve the supply of PMICs and RFICs should alleviate the supply constraints in coming months. This will allow Qualcomm to maintain its leadership in 5G SoC market and overall market share of 31% still growing annually.”

Highlighting the importance of leading-edge nodes and securing capacities for the same, Mr Gai noted, “The leading-edge nodes, including 7nm, 6nm and 5nm, will account for almost half of the smartphone shipment volume in 2021. These leading nodes are mainly for 5G smartphone models, as advanced nodes (e.g., 11/12/14nm at TSMC and Samsung) will serve the mainstream 4G LTE chipsets in 2021.”

Exhibit 2: Global 5G Smartphone AP/SoC Market Share (%) Outlook

5G smartphone Chipset SoC share
5G smartphone chipset forecast

Source: Counterpoint Research – Foundry & AP/SoC Outlook, Apr 2021

Commenting on the growth of 5G smartphone chipsets, Research Analyst Parv Sharma highlighted, “We estimate Qualcomm to increase its 5G SoC market share to grow to 30% mark in 2021, with 5G solutions across the tiers, from Snapdragon 8-series down to 4-series. If you include 5G baseband shipments to Apple, the overall 5G chipset market share jumps to 59% level. In an ideal scenario, Qualcomm’s market share in 5G segment would have been even higher if it did not face the unfortunate supply constraints in the first half of 2021. As Qualcomm turns to place more wafer orders on TSMC’s 6nm/5nm from Q2 2021, following the below-expectation wafer output of the Snapdragon 888 in the beginning of the year, we expect it to resume its 5G SoC shipment growth from H2 2021.”

Mr. Sharma further adds, “MediaTek leveraging TSMC and its affordable 5G portfolio is well-positioned to almost double its market share in 5G smartphone SoC/AP segment. Together, MediaTek and Qualcomm occupy nearly two-thirds of the 5G smartphone SoC market demand, but the gap between the two has narrowed. Having said that, the foundry capacity will continue to remain tight till early 2022, before the next wave of CAPEX realizes at the leading nodes.”

For our comprehensive research on foundry to chipsets to devices, feel free to contact us at the contacts below.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

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Qualcomm to Drive 5G in Mass Market Smartphones With Snapdragon 4 Series 5G Platform

Qualcomm is the leading supplier of smartphone system-on-chip (SoC) for modem-to-RF-antenna systems and has been extending this lead in the fast-growing 5G smartphone segment as well. 5G smartphone sales grew a massive 1327% globally in June 2020, according to Counterpoint’s Monthly Handset Model Sales Tracker.

With the launch of 5G capable Snapdragon 6- and 7-series platforms, the share of high-tier ($250-$400) is set to soar further in the second half of 2020. As a result, 5G capability in smartphones will be in the mainstream market this year. This is the fastest ever uptake of any new generation technology in the first two to three years of its rollout. The next obvious step is to bring 5G to the mass market ($100-$250) smartphones and that has been the big question this year – how soon will we see a sub-$150 5G smartphone and shipping in volumes?

There is a pent-up demand for advanced mobile connectivity experiences as smartphones become central to consumers’ lives. Mobile operators are also looking to quickly roll out the 5G network to boost capacity and coverage and reduce the “cost per bit” to efficiently satisfy the ever-growing data consumption. Considering all this, at the recently concluded IFA 2020, Qualcomm announced that it was expanding 5G capabilities to its affordable 4-Series Snapdragon mobile platforms available early next year.

The $100-$250 mass-market segment contributes to more than 600 million units of smartphones sold per year. This is a significant opportunity for Qualcomm and its customers to tap into. Qualcomm dominates this segment, controlling more than 40% share. It will look to build on this stronger position to empower these users with 5G smartphones starting next year.

SoC Vendor Share of $100-$250 Segment Global Smartphone Sales for 2019

The majority of these mass-market smartphone volumes are driven by emerging markets across Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. So, Samsung, OPPO, Vivo, Xiaomi, Motorola and Huawei have been the key brands driving these volumes with a combined share of more than 90% at the end of June 2020. While Huawei has gained strength in this segment in China via its Honor sub-brand and older models in African and Eastern European markets after the US trade restrictions, the future looks uncertain with the newer set of restrictions. We believe that Xiaomi, OPPO and Samsung will be the major beneficiaries in filling up the big gap to be left by Huawei in these markets next year. In the prepaid markets of North America and Latin America, Motorola has seen growth in its market share and will be important in bringing 5G to the mass market. In Asia, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Realme remain the key brands to drive 5G in the sub-$250 smartphone segment.

The first wave of partners that have committed to rolling out the sub-$250 5G smartphones with Qualcomm’s upcoming 4-series platform, includes Xiaomi, OPPO and Motorola. These are important wins for Qualcomm to kickstart the 5G adoption in this highly affordable segment in a scalable way starting Q1. This should also ignite Qualcomm’s competitors to bring their affordable 5G solutions to the market.

We look forward to more details on how Qualcomm will be pushing down other 5G-centric features and capabilities to these lower-tier SKUs in the coming months. Our initial estimate is that the first set of 4-series 5G models to be launched will be sub-6GHz only, considering the target markets and the OEMs on board for the first wave of these models. However, we estimate a 5G mmWave-based smartphone powered by Qualcomm’s 6-series Snapdragon platform should launch in the coming months, bringing advanced 5G experiences to mainstream consumers.

Qualcomm is already on its third generation of 5G Modem-RF System, including the 5G mmWave module (QTM535), and a clear leader with 100% market share with its solutions. This has also helped it gain a lion’s share of BoM costs in the mmWave designs. As 5G mmWave networks roll out across key markets, especially high-scale markets such as China and the US by early 2022, we could see a rapid proliferation of mmWave designs across the OEM portfolios, targeting differentiation initially in those markets. Further, we estimate the fifth-generation designs should help 5G mmWave capabilities to scale down more. We can expect a first Snapdragon 4-series mmWave model in H2 2022. This will drive the inflection point for affordable 5G mmWave smartphones and newer experiences to mass-market levels, it is a big moment for the mobile phone industry!

HiSilicon’s Loss is Qualcomm’s Gain in High-end Segment

The smartphone application processor market is dominated by Qualcomm. The company maintains its lead in the market by catering to all smartphone segments — from the low-end Snapdragon 200 to mid-end Snapdragon 400 and 600, and the high-end Snapdragon 700 and 800. The lead will increase due to the sanctions on Huawei (HiSilicon), which restrict the Chinese company from using TSMC’s advanced 7nm and 5nm process technology for future chipset manufacturing.

Four in ten smartphones sold in the high-end segment in 2020 will sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 series application processor.

In the high-end Android smartphone segment ($400 and above*), Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 series chipset is leading (Exhibit 1). The only competition Qualcomm has in the segment is from in-house application processors from HiSilicon (Huawei) and Samsung, with little to no competition from other application processor companies like Mediatek and Unisoc. Qualcomm has maintained its lead through new launches and by updating its flagship offerings. It has also strengthened its offerings with an end-to-end solution for the complete 5G system (sub-6 GHz and mmWave) and will be the default choice for OEMs looking to implement mmWave.

High-end smartphone AP market share

Exhibit 1: Android smartphone application market share for high-end segment ($400 and above)

The US sanctions on Huawei will lead to the decline of HiSilicon chipsets. This will mainly affect the high-end HiSilicon chipsets using 7nm and 5nm process technologies. The sanctions will help Qualcomm gain market share in China in the high-end segment, aided by OPPO and vivo. MediaTek and Unisoc will be the gainers in the mid-segment smartphone market as Huawei looks for other sources to get chipset supplies.

The use of Qualcomm chipset by Samsung in the Galaxy S20 series in its home country South Korea (Samsung already uses Qualcomm in US, Canada, China, Japan, and South America) will add to the American company’s gains in China.

The dominant position in the high-end segment and an end-to-end 5G solution will also help Qualcomm gain a larger share of the bill of material (BoM) in 5G smartphones, which will further increase with the implementation of mmWave. Though overall smartphone shipments will decrease in 2020, leading to a decline in smartphone AP shipment, Qualcomm is set to gain market share in the high-end smartphone segment.

*Average wholesale price in $

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Samsung Unpacked Event – Lots of Folds, Pixels and 5G

Samsung Unpacked 2020 event had lots of energy and hardware announcements. In an era where it is very difficult to differentiate, Samsung did an admirable job, unveiling four smartphones and updated Galaxy Buds. It was the first Unpacked event for President & Head of Mobile Communications Business, TM Roh.

Here are the key announcements from the event:

Samsung Z Flip at UNPACKED


A New Folding Galaxy:

The event was kicked-off by the elegant Z Flip. It is a radical change from the Galaxy Fold which closed in a ‘book’ format. The Z Flip is a clam-shell foldable. The device is compact, symmetrical, and the first square smartphone since the Nokia 7705 Twist. The device uses ultra-thin glass that folds, according to Samsung, over 200,000 times without stress lines. The clamshell and design are a superior form factor than last year’s ‘book’ fold and Samsung did a much better job protecting the display as it is more recessed. The hideaway hinge is a unique implementation that allows the display angle to be less severe.

The Z Flip has some useful multi-tasking capabilities. Users will get YouTube premium included–a nice enticement. This is not yet a high-volume device. It is $1,380 and it is not 5G-capable. However, each iteration is seeing massive improvements, and this form factor is the future.


Samsung S20 at UNPACKED

S20, S20+, S20 Ultra:

The first Galaxy S launched in 2010—a full decade of Galaxy devices have ensued. The S20 is a sizable upgrade for the new decade. Samsung unveiled three smartphones focusing on camera technology, AI, and 5G.

Key selling points of the S20 family–choose your display size. Display sizes are 6.2 inches for the S20, 6.7 inches for the S20+, and 6.9 inches for the S20 Ultra. The OLEDs are bright, vibrant, and support 120Hz. The S20 feels ‘compact’ relative its brothers and can actually be used with one hand. The S20+ and S20 Ultra, because of the near edge-to-edge display and thinness, feel smaller than 6.7 inches and 6.9 inches.

Camera capabilities are the sexy headlines. First, the device can shoot, share, and view 8k video. It is also possible to crop a single frame from a video. The megapixel wars are back! The Ultra sports a 12MP, 48MP, and a 108MP (ultra-wide angle, telephoto, wide angle). Under the branding name, “space zoom”, the camera configuration can magnify up to 100x. Yes, after 50x it becomes pixelated, but what a feat within the thinness of a phone to have binocular-like zoom.

Not as sexy, but the best utility is ‘single take’. The camera takes multiple shots, chooses the best filters, and the shooter can confirm it is their favorite. The automation is key.

Other key launch day notes:

  • 5G use cases were rare, but video calls with Google Duo will suffice.
  • Remember the early LTE smartphones and their battery performances? Not to fear. These are day-long batteries at 4,000mAh, 4,500mAh and 5,000mAh.
  • All the devices are run by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865. Samsung also chose Qualcomm’s X55 modem as well as Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. In countries where mmWave is needed, Qualcomm’s QTM527 modules are used.
  • LPDDR5 16GB of RAM—this will be utilized for machine learning capabilities. Samsung states it is 30% faster getting data. We will have to trust Samsung for now.
  • 1.5TB of storage is available. This is not overkill considering the S20-series can shoot, store, and play 8k videos. New stabilizer tech will help 8k video smoothness.


Galaxy Buds+

Galaxy Buds+ were unveiled starting at $149.The improvements include an additional mic for improved ambient sounds—there are now three mics. The update Buds are 30% smaller. Samsung believes version two will be more comfortable and fit in the ear better. Need the Buds+ for a run but battery is dead? Rapid charge 1.5 minutes for over two hours of use. Overall battery life improved two-fold.

Samsung Galaxy Bud+ at UNPACKED

More details after we test the devices further. For volume expectations, see here.

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