Back in October, MediaTek, the Taiwanese chipmaker that practically ruled India’s low- and mid- range smartphone market, announced that by December, India would see several smartphones powered by its first LTE chip MT6595.
December’s over. January’s also over, and February is almost over. Yet, India is yet to see the flood of LTE handsets powered by MediaTek’s MT6595 processor.
Instead, it seems to be MediaTek’s archrival, Qualcomm, which seems to have more or less cornered the market for LTE in India – low, mid and high range.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips are found even in handsets from Samsung, a company that has its own range of mobile processors, as well as in phones made by HTC, a Taiwanese brand that would be expected to lend a helping hand to the fellow Taiwanese firm.
In fact, Qualcomm has done such a thorough job of cornering the market that handsets such as Lenovo A6000, powered by LTE-enabled Snapdragon 410, now compete with 3G-only handsets built on MediaTek.
Even Micromax, which used to almost exclusively depend on MediaTek-based designs for its smartphones, seems to have shifted its loyalties by launching the Yu Yureka, priced at Rs 8,999 and powered by Snapdragon 610.
In comparison, MediaTek has managed to get just one LTE smartphone in India – the Lenovo Vibe X2, priced at Rs 19,999.
This is despite the fact that the MT6595 is a much more powerful chipset compared to the others. The MT6595-powered Vibe X2, for example, scores around 24,000 in Antutu benchmarks, while the Snapdragon 410-based Lenovo A6000 scores around 11,000 and the Snapdragon 610-based Yu Yureka scores around 17,000.
So what explains the lack of MT6595-powered smartphones in India right now?
Cost and obsolescence, according to sources.
The MT6595 was designed as a high-end chipset to power high-end phones. In addition, it is based on the previous generation, 32-bit architecture from ARM Holdings.
In comparison, the 410 and 610 are based on the latest, 64-bit designs from ARM.
These two factors – price and recency – have helped Snapdragon corner the market right now.
So, will it remain like this? Unlikely, as MediaTek’s own 64-bit SoCs based on the new 64-bit architecture started shipping at the beginning of this year.
These are the MT6732 and the MT6752, targeted at LTE smartphones.
The two chips have started appearing in models earlier this month, starting with the Meizu M1 and Meizu M1 Note.
According to early reports, the Meizu M1 Note, powered by MT6752, scores 46,000-53,000 in Antutu. The Note, which is priced at around Rs 13,000 in Hong Kong, comes with a full HD 5.5-inch display.
That said, India will probably have to wait till March before MediaTek-based LTE phones start coming in numbers.