Almost mirroring the old rivalry between Intel and AMD, Qualcomm and MediaTek have traditionally been at it since the smartphone market exploded years ago. MediaTek was considered to have more affordable options, although often underperforming. To its credit, it has improved in both performance and features and it seems that its investments have finally paid off, now that it has taken the crown from Qualcomm’s mobile chipset market, at least in 2020.
MediaTek was already taking the lead in the third quarter of last year, but a new report reveals its overall market share in late 2020. MediaTek sold 113.8 million chips last year for a total of 351.8 million chips. units, an increase of 47.8% compared to their numbers in 2019. This gave MediaTek 27.2% market share last year, up from 17.2% in 2019 and enough to slightly take the lead against 25% of Qualcomm.
Of course, sales of the MediaTek chipset depend a lot on who is buying them and how much they are selling. Of particular importance was Xiaomi, whose sales of phones with MediaTek soared to 223.3% in 2020. Samsung, however, still had the highest growth rate, selling 254.5% more devices with MediaTek year after year.
MediaTek’s growth spurt was also helped by Huawei’s problems in the U.S. Without access to Qualcomm’s chips, Huawei and later the new independent Honor had to switch en masse to MediaTek when the company’s supply of HiSilicon Kirin chips began to decline. Oppo and Realme also remain one of MediaTek’s strongest sellers, shipping 83.19 million units combined last year.
2021 can tell a completely different story, especially since the gap between MediaTek and Qualcomm is not so great. Omdia, which published the figures, still spends MediaTek to maintain its leadership, however, especially as the market for cheaper smartphones continues to grow.