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How big are MediaTek phones in Africa?

MediaTek, Helio X23, Helio X30

Qualcomm is generally considered the big dog when it comes to smartphone processors, but MediaTek has been making waves in the budget space over the years.

Powering everything from white-labelled devices and upcoming Chinese brands to established manufacturers, the chipmaker represents a stiff challenge for Qualcomm. But how does it fare on the continent, in terms of marketshare?

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“Although (it’s) sometimes difficult to establish exact numbers based on market research, the estimated MediaTek marketshare in South Africa and Africa is approximately between 40% and 45% for smartphones,” said Dominique Friedl, head of corporate sales for South and Sub Saharan Africa, in an interview with Gearburn.

The executive says that the likes of Tecno, Vodacom/Vodafone, Itel, Infinix and Mobicel make up the bulk of the figure. In fact, Friedl says it’s estimated that over 80% of smartphones sold on the continent are less than US$200. A far cry from the flagship territory that Qualcomm dominates, if true.

Read more: Expect a massive leap for 2018’s budget smartphones

Only planning to upgrade next year? Well, the MediaTek executive claims you can expect edge-to-edge displays and dual-camera tech in your mid-range handsets when 2018 rolls around. Next year will also see new CPU designs and layouts from chip designer ARM, and Friedl says that he is “sure” MediaTek is investigating the new technology.

Will the new tech from ARM result in more expensive phones then?

“No, I do not expect that we would see price increases for phones using this type of new technology. However that said, potential price pressure will come from other overall system requirements and enhancements,” Friedl explains, citing RAM, screens, cameras and other tech as potentially pushing up the price of these phones.

Don’t expect phones with the MediaTek Helio X30 chip to come to South Africa anytime soon

MediaTek doesn’t just play in the mid-range/budget sector though, as evident by its Helio X series of chips. Most notably, it’s Helio X20/X25 chip pioneered a decacore (10-core) solution, featuring two A72 cores and two clusters of four low-power cores. In fact, Meizu’s Pro 6 (review) is one of the only available X20/X25 devices in SA.

MediaTek’s most recent chip, the Helio X30 has reportedly been suffering from manufacturing woes, and Friedl says that most phones launching with this chip are China-focused.

“We have however seen and expect to see more brands launching smartphones in Africa based on MediaTek Helio P20 and P25 series,” the representative explained.

What about the future of its flagship processors? Can we expect the next Helio X chip to keep 10 cores?

“For the immediate future I do not see a change from 10 cores for the Helio X series. However more longer term, into 2018/2019 I am sure that this is currently under investigation,” Friedl told us.

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