In 2007, Apple launched its first smartphone which was a revolution in the mobile phone industry. After that all other manufacturers took to the production of smartphones.
The core processing elements of smartphones are chipsets. They help perform all functions in the smartphones from handling the phone operating system, making phone calls, processing mobile applications, connecting the phone to the Bluetooth and the Wi-Fi, to store data and manage power.
It is possible for the smartphone original equipment manufacturers to produce configurations of chipsets and add extra features to the chipsets as well.
Chipsets made of silicon are also known as application processors and system -on-chip ( SoCs). They play a major role in distinguishing various smartphones and determining how powerful and capable a phone is. With the rise in adoption of smartphones, naturally chipsets demand has also increased in the past few years.
However, during the second quarter of 2020, like all other economic activities being affected, the global smartphone chipset market’s revenues also declined. Nonetheless, it is expected that this industry will recover by 2022 and a rise in demand was seen in Q3 of 2020.
The main users for whom SoCs play an important role are mobile gamers and as the mobile gaming industry boomed during the last 2 years, a powerful SoC became a determinant while choosing mobile phones.
For the low budget phones, the most popular chipsets in 2020 were as follows :
For the mid range phones, the names of the popular chipsets are as follows:
For the High end range, the popular available options are :
The market can be divided into North America, Europe, South America, Asia Pacific and Middle East and Africa. North America is the most dominant region due to their faster adoption of advanced technology.
Higher production of smartphones, growing population and rise in per capita disposable income were some factors contributing towards the growth of the market in the Asia Pacific region. It is still expected that this region will record the highest CAGR. For the Middle East and Africa region it is forecasted that the level of growth will be moderate.
Other important specifications: Currently, the octa core processors are the most prevalent in the market. The processing speed determines the number of commands the processor can execute in one second. The higher the processing speed, the price range would be higher.
A contract between Apple and Intel states that Apple will buy the majority of Intel’s smartphone modem business. Along with intellectual property, machinery, and leases, about a calculated number of Intel employees will join Apple.
The $1 billion transaction is anticipated to close after receiving regulatory clearances and satisfying other usual requirements, which may include work council and other pertinent consultations in some jurisdictions.
Apple will have more than 17,000 wireless technology patents, spanning from protocols for cellular standards to modem architecture and modem operation, if the purchased patents for present and future wireless technologies are combined with Apple’s current portfolio.
Intel will continue to be able to create modems for devices other than smartphones, such as computers, internet-of-things gadgets, and self-driving cars. With computing and communications technology serving as the cornerstone of global advancements, Intel, a leader in the semiconductor industry, is defining the data-centric future.
By securing, supplying power to, and connecting billions of devices as well as the infrastructure of the smart, connected world, from the cloud to the network to the edge and everything in between, the company’s engineering expertise is assisting in addressing some of the greatest challenges facing the world.
Smartphone market can be divided into two categories – Android devices and iOS devices. While Apple is the sole producer for iOS devices providing The chipset market consists of a few players namely :
Their high level of performance in the mid range price phone segment and them capitalising on the opportunity in the United States Market after the brand Huewei had been banned also helped them achieve this position. Mediatek chipsets are commonly found in Xiaomi smartphones which has become a popular brand among users for budget phones. Mediatek also helped in making the cheapest 5G smartphone as well as launched a gaming based series keeping in mind the consumer’s interest which has been advantageous for them.
There is intense competition between Mediatek and Qualcomm in the middle range smartphones segment.
Innovation is the key for competitors in this industry. While the competition is intense in the market, there is also a certain degree of cooperation among the players.
However there are barriers to entry in the market such as high cost of research and development for keeping the pace of innovation with the advancement of technology on which the big players such as MediaTek and Qualcomm have made high investments in the last decade.
The main focus of the chipset manufacturers is to help in making 5G capable technology easily available to a larger population at an affordable price. Once 5G technology has become accessible, people will start using it for various purposes such as cloud gaming etc. for which better range products for higher use will be demanded by users and hence chipset demands will remain stable. Higher locked GPUs and powerful processors will be needed for the use cases.
The smartphone chipset industry is also focusing on very relevant concepts like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning as their applications are now seen in every sector. Features such as face identification and augmented reality are a byproduct of introduction of AI chipsets in smartphones.
Gaming and photography are two other focus areas for the smartphone chipset players and Qualcomm has launched better versions of chipsets to improve the gaming experience. Graphics performance in the existing chipsets have potential for improvement which is expected to be seen in the coming years.
Apart from these factors, power efficiency and a system to control battery consumption is necessary. Overall, though there has been very less annual improvement in the performance of SoCs in the last 3 years, the next 5 years provide a great scope for making more efficient and powerful mobile processors.
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