According to data from market research firm CINNO Research, in the first quarter of 2022, smartphone SoC shipments in mainland China were around 74.39 million units, down 14.4% from the same period last year and a slight increase of 0.7% compared to the fourth quarter of last year. In terms of brand market share for Chinese smartphones, in the first quarter of 2022, MediaTek ranks first in the Chinese smartphone SoC market with a share of 41.2%, an increase of approximately 7% from a year to year. Qualcomm accounts for around 35.9%, an increase of around 4% year-over-year, ranking second. The third to fifth places are Apple, HiSilicon and Unisoc.
Overall, the competition pattern of smartphone SoC brands in the Chinese mainland market remains the same. MediaTek and Qualcomm take the lead while Apple follows. Somehow, HiSilicon still has a place in the top 5. However, it should be noted that MediaTek’s share of quarterly shipments is expanding. Its share of first-quarter shipments exceeds 40%, hitting a record high for a single quarter since 2015.
In addition, Apple and HiSilicon’s share of shipments decreased month-over-month and year-over-year. Among them, Apple’s quarter-to-quarter decline was the largest, because the last quarter was Apple’s strong shipping period, so the month-to-month decline another will be relatively large. Nonetheless, HiSilicon has the biggest year-over-year decline. The inability to produce chips after being sanctioned by the United States led to a sharp drop in shipments.
CINNO Research believes that due to the current downturn in China’s mobile phone market, the SoC market is also declining. However, MediaTek’s Dimensity series chips continue to impact the high-end market. With the implementation of the dual flagship strategy of mobile phone manufacturers and the blessing of TSMC’s high-yield foundry, the market share is estimated to maintain an upward trend in the future.
Top 5 Chinese Smartphone Chip Makers
MediaTek is doing quite well in the chip market. It derives most of its revenue from the mid-range and entry-level markets. However, it has some pretty decent flagship processors like the Dimensity 1200 and its latest Dimensity 9000 SoC.
At the end of 2021, MediaTek’s revenue reached $17.6 billion, a new record for the Taiwanese chipmaker. Compared to the previous year, this figure represents an increase of 53%. According to Counterpoint Technology Market Research, MediaTek’s strong revenue growth is due to the rapid development of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 technologies. Additionally, investments in energy-saving solutions are paying off.
In the current quarter, MediaTek’s revenue is expected to increase 2-10% from the last quarter of 2021, to $4.7-5.1 billion. This should be aided by the launch of the flagship Dimensity 9000 mobile processor. Smartphones running it are in the works by major developers such as Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi and others.
Analysts believe that based on the current quarter’s results, MediaTek will become a leader in the smartphone processor market with a 39% share in unit terms. According to forecasts by Counterpoint Technology Market Research, in 2022 the share of 5G devices in the total mass of smartphones sold will reach 54%, or about 800 million units. MediaTek will continue to actively invest in related technologies.
Without a doubt, Qualcomm is the “king” when it comes to flagship processors for Android smartphones. However, it’s Qualcomm’s 5G baseband business that’s making waves
Sravan Kundojjala, director of Handset Component Technologies at Strategy Analytics, said, “Qualcomm increased its share of 5G baseband units to 70% in the first quarter of 2021, driven by iPhone 12 design gains from Apple and Android 5G momentum. Qualcomm’s new 5nm-based Snapdragon 888 5G apps processor has got off to a good start and is being featured in popular flagship devices. Qualcomm took advantage of HiSilicon’s downturn due to trade sanctions and gained 5G market share. For the first time in four years, HiSilicon has dropped out of the top five in baseband revenue share rankings. Strategy Analytics believes that Qualcomm is well positioned to grow its 5G baseband shipments using its tiered portfolio.
Christopher Taylor, Director of Strategy Analytics RF & Wireless Components, added, “MediaTek established itself as Qualcomm’s strong number two in the 5G baseband market in Q1 2021 with its Dimensity-branded 5G chips. MediaTek’s baseband revenue grew 162% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2021, driven by 5G and 4G market share gains. Strategy Analytics estimates that MediaTek’s 5G momentum will continue through 2021, driven by expansion beyond China. »
Apple sells its devices in China, so we closely consider its chip to work on Chinese smartphones. Bionic processors are far ahead of their Android counterparts. These processors boost the performance of Apple smartphones. Its latest Bionic A15 processor excels in overall performance. The Apple Bionic A15 chip adopts a design architecture of 2 big cores + 4 small cores in the CPU part. This improves performance by 20% and power efficiency by 30% compared to the A14 chip. On the GPU side, the A15 chip adopts a 5-core architecture, which increases the number of GPU cores.
Looking at the improvement percentage, the A15 has a very significant improvement. This opens up the performance gap with the Android camp even further. However, due to the poor heat dissipation performance of the iPhone, it is often difficult to achieve the optimal performance of A-series processors.
Apple will also have more influence in the smartphone market due to Huawei’s absence. However, Apple won’t want to take other Chinese manufacturers for granted. IDC published a report on the market share of smartphones in the price segment above $600 in the first half of 2020. Among mobile phones exceeding $600, Huawei ranks first with 44.1% and Apple ranks second with 44. %. In the first quarter of this year, IDC released data on China’s market share in the price range above $550. Apple takes first place with a market share of 56.9%. Huawei still ranks second but its share has fallen to 23.6%.
4. Huawei HiSilicon is still on the list
In addition, sales of Apple’s A-series chips continue to rise, ranking third. However, the rapid increase of the last one or two months is now slowing down. Huawei HiSilicon and UNISOC rank fourth and fifth with sales of 1.1 million and 800,000 units respectively. The HiSilicon chip market share was the same month-on-month, but the year-on-year decline was still huge. CINNO Research analysts said: HiSilicon’s inventory is still unable to predict when it will bottom out, and it is still adopting a series of inventory control methods.
CINNO Research predicts that MediaTek will be the largest processor manufacturer in the Chinese smartphone SoC market in 2021. The market share is expected to increase to 36% and Qualcomm to 35%. In the Chinese 5G smartphone market, Qualcomm is the largest processor manufacturer. Market share is expected to increase to 37% and MediaTek market share is expected to increase to 34%.
In the coming months, there will be significant differences in the outlook for the chip market. The new Snapdragon 8 Gen1 will be a driving force for Qualcomm. However, unlike previous years, MediaTek has the Dimensity 9000 which almost matches the performance of the Snapdragon 8 Gen1. The first smartphones with Dimensity 9000 will be official next month.
UNISOC Tiger chips are mostly entry-level and at best mid-range chips that mostly appear on Chinese smartphones. Considering that there are not many chipmakers in the world, UNISOC has a place in the top five list.