System on a Chip: Qualcomm vs MediaTek Processors

Tucked away in the heart of all smartphones is a System on a Chip (SoC) or chipset. Often mistakenly called the ‘processor’, this chipset houses cutting-edge technology that powers the devices in use today. Relative to their size, these SoCs often go head to head with PCs in specs and overall performance. Not that it’s a competition. Whereas there are numerous smartphone chipset manufacturers out there, our post will be a death match pitting Qualcomm vs MediaTek.

What you should know about SoCs is that they have more or less the same components. Each iteration of a System on a Chip comes with certain components and system tweaks baked in e.g CPU, GPU, RAM, ROM and Modem. That said, not all these are born equal. As you very well know, once the last component is soldered on the integrated circuit board, that’s the last you will hear of it. As they say, the devil is in the details.

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Related: What is a SoC (System on a Chip) and how is it different from the CPU?


A bit of a backstory

Before we lay down our explainer between Qualcomm vs MediaTek, here’s a bit of history. Qualcomm is a fabless American semiconductor and telecommunications equipment company. The company’s Snapdragon chipsets are one of the most well-known SoCs the world over, especially in the Americas and Europe. The list of Snapdragon devices is long and illustrious and includes most of the best brands. Some of these include Samsung, LG, Sony Xperia, BalckBerry, OnePlus, Xiaomi, Asus, to name a few.

MediaTek on its part is a Taiwanese company but similarly in the same business with one exception. MediaTek’s market base is stronger in Asia and Africa than elsewhere. What’s interesting to note is that neither Qualcomm nor MediaTek actually make their own silicon wafers but rather primarily concentrate on actual research and design.

As a clear underdog in this fight between Qualcomm vs MediaTek, the latter nevertheless holds its own under most metrics. But only just. We can’t possibly compare the creme de la creme of Qualcomm Snapdragon to MediaTek’s Helio P60, their most powerful SoC yet. That race would be rigged before the get-go. What we can do is show you where each excels and why both are still in business in their respective markets.

Qualcomm vs MediaTek: Pros and Cons

  • Smartphones running Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs generally more expensive than those with MediaTek SoCs.
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon devices tend to have better battery optimization than MediaTek in real-world tests.
  • Snapdragon has more OEM support than MediaTek who’s devices often have a short shelf-life.
  • MediaTek doesn’t often release its SoC source code to the general public.
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon has its own optimised in-house GPU (Adreno).

Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC versions

CriteriaSnapdragon 845Snapdragon 835 Snapdragon 821 Snapdragon 820Snapdragon 710 Snapdragon 660 Snapdragon 653 Snapdragon 652 Snapdragon 636 Snapdragon 632Snapdragon 630 Snapdragon 626 Snapdragon 450 Snapdragon 439Snapdragon 435 Snapdragon 429Snapdragon 212
Cellular ModemQualcomm® Snapdragon™ X20 LTE modemQualcomm® Snapdragon™ X16 LTE modemQualcomm® Snapdragon™ X12 LTE modemQualcomm® Snapdragon™ X12 LTE modem
Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X15 LTE modem
Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X12 LTE modemQualcomm® Snapdragon™ X9 LTE modemQualcomm® Snapdragon™ X8 LTE modem

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X12 LTE modem

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X9 LTE modem

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X12 LTE modem

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X9 LTE modem

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X9 LTE modem

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X6 LTE modem

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X9 LTE modem

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X6 LTE modem

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X5 LTE modem

CPUQualcomm® Kryo™ 385 CPU

CPU Clock Speed: Up to 2.8 GHz
CPU Cores: 8x Kryo 385 64-bit CPU
Up to 2.8 GHz
8x Qualcomm® Kryo™ 280 64-bit CPU
Up to 2.45 GHz
Quad-core CPU

4x Qualcomm® Kryo™ 64-bit CPU
Up to 2.4 GHz
Quad-core CPU

4x Qualcomm® Kryo™ 64-bit CPU
Up to 2.2 GHz
8x Qualcomm® Kryo™ 360 64-bit CPU
Up to 2.2 GHz
8x Qualcomm® Kryo™ 260 64-bit CPU
Up to 2.2 GHz
Octa-core 64-bit CPU
4x ARM Cortex A72
4x ARM Cortex A53
From 1.8 to 1.95 GHz
Octa-core 64-bit CPU
4x ARM Cortex A72
4x ARM Cortex A53
Up to 1.8 GHz
8x Qualcomm® Kryo™ 260 64-bit CPU
Up to 1.8 GHz
8x Qualcomm® Kryo™ 250 64-bit CPU
Up to 1.8 GHz
8x ARM Cortex A53 64-bit
Up to 2.2 GHz
Octa-core 64-bit CPU
8x ARM Cortex A53
Up to 2.2 GHz
Octa-core 64-bit CPU
8x ARM Cortex A53
Up to 1.8 GHz
Octa-core 64-bit CPU
8x ARM Cortex A53
Up to 1.95 GHz
Octa-core 64-bit CPU
8x ARM Cortex A53
Up to 1.4 GHz
Duad-core 64-bit CPU
4x ARM Cortex A53
Up to 1.95 GHz


Quad-core 32-bit CPU
4x ARM Cortex A7
Up to 1.3 GHz
GPUQualcomm® Adreno™ 630 GPUQualcomm® Adreno™ 540 GPUQualcomm® Adreno™ 530 GPUQualcomm® Adreno™ 530 GPUQualcomm® Adreno™ 616 GPUQualcomm® Adreno™ 512 GPUQualcomm® Adreno™ 510 GPUQualcomm® Adreno™ 510 GPUQualcomm® Adreno™ 509 GPU

Qualcomm® Adreno™ 506 GPU

Qualcomm® Adreno™ 508 GPU

Qualcomm® Adreno™ 506 GPU

Qualcomm® Adreno™ 506 GPU

Qualcomm® Adreno™ 505 GPU

Qualcomm® Adreno™ 505 GPU

Qualcomm® Adreno™ 504 GPU

Qualcomm® Adreno™ 304 GPU

VideoUp to 4K Ultra HD video capture @ 60 FPSUp to 4K Ultra HD video capture @ 30FPSUp to 4K Ultra HD video capture @ 30FPSUp to 4K Ultra HD video capture @ 30FPSUp to 4K Ultra HD video capture @ 30FPS
Up to 1080p video capture @120 FPS
Up to 4K Ultra HD video capture @ 30FPS
Up to 1080p video capture @120 FPS
Up to 4K Ultra HD video capture @ 30FPS
Up to 1080p video capture @120 FPS
Up to 4K Ultra HD video capture @ 30FPS
Up to 1080p video capture @120 FPS
Up to 4K Ultra HD video capture @ 30FPS
Up to 1080p video capture @120 FPS
Up to 4K Ultra HD video capture @ 30FPS
Up to 1080p video capture @120 FPS
Up to 4K Ultra HD video capture @ 30FPS
Up to 1080p video capture @120 FPS
Up to 4K Ultra HD video capture @ 30FPS

Up to 1080p video capture @60 FPS

Up to 1080p video capture @30 FPS

Up to 1080p video capture @30 FPS

Up to 1080p video capture @30 FPS

Up to 720p video capture
CameraUp to 16 MP dual camera

Up to 32 MP single camera
Up to 16 MP dual camera

Up to 32 MP single camera
Up to 28 MP cameraUp to 28 MP cameraUp to 20 MP dual camera
Up to 32 MP single camera
Up to 25 MP single camera
Up to 16 MP camera
Up to 21 MP cameraUp to 21 MP cameraUp to 16 MP camera

Up to 24 MP camera
Up to 13 MP dual camera

Up to 24 MP single camera
Up to 13 MP camera

Up to 24 MP camera
Up to 24 MP single camera

Dual camera support
Dual camera up to 13 MP

Single Camera up to 21MP @ 30fps, 24MP @ 24fps
Up to 8 MP dual camera

Up to 21 MP single camera
Up to 21 MP camera

Up to 16 MP single camera

Up to 8 MP dual camera
Up to 8 MP camera

Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ Support
Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 4 technology

Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 4 technology

Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 technology

Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 2.0 technology
Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 technology

Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 2.0 technology
Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 4 technology
Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 4 technology
Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 technology

Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 2.0 technology
Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 technology

Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 2.0 technology
Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 4 technology

Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 4 technology

Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 technology

Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 technology

Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 technology

Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 technology

Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 technology

Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 2.0 technology

We are hard pressed to find a worthy challenger for Snapdragon 845 chipset. Qualcomm introduced some truly eye-catching technologies such as AI processing, an intelligent personal assistant, and a secure enclave to store biometric data and so much more.


“The 3rd Generation Qualcomm® Hexagon™ 685 DSP supports sophisticated, on-device AI processing, delivering richer camera, voice, XR and gaming experiences.”

“Our energy-efficient Snapdragon 845 mobile platform is engineered for all-day battery life. With a Qualcomm Kryo CPU built on ARM Cortex technology and Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+ technology (capable of up to a 50% charge in only 15 minutes*) even the most demanding applications can run all day.”


MediaTek Helio SoC versions

CriteriaHelio P60 (MT6771)Helio P30Helio P25 (MT6757)Helio P23 (MT6763T)Helio P22 (MT6762)

Helio P20 (MT6757)Helio A22MT6750Helio P18 (MT6755S)MT6753MT6752
CPUOctacore Cortex-A73 4x up to 2.0GHz
Cortex-A53 4x up to 2.0 GHz
4x Cortex A53 @ 2.3 GHz
4x Cortex A53 @ 1.65 GHz
2.6 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A53, 1.6 GHz quad-core 4x Cortex A53 @ 2.3 GHz / 2.5 GHz
4x Cortex A53 @ 1.65 GHz
Octacore Cortex-A53
2Ghz
2.3 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A53, 1.6 GHz quad-core Octacore Cortex-A53
2Ghz
Octacore Cortex-A53
4x at 1Ghz, 4x at 1.5Ghz
Octacore Cortex-A53
2Ghz
Octacore Cortex-A53
4x at 1.5Ghz, 4x at 1.3Ghz
Octacore Cortex-A53
1.7Ghz
GPUMali-G72 MP3
800Mhz
Mali-G71 MP2
950Mhz
Mali-T880 MP2
1Ghz
Mali-G71 MP2
770Mhz
PowerVR GE8320
650Mhz
Mali-T880 MP2 @ 900 MHzPowerVR GE-seriesMali-T860 MP2
520Mhz
Mali-T860 MP2
800Mhz
Mali-T720 MP4
600Mhz
Mali-T760 MP2
700Mhz
Display2,160 x 1,080 Full HD+2,160 x 1,0801,920 x 1,0802,160 x 1,080
1,600 x 7202,160 x 1,080
1,600 x 7201,280 x 7202,160 x 1,0801,920 x 1,0801,920 x 1,080
Camera32MP single, 24MP+16MP dual25MP single, 13MP+13MP dual24MP single,
13MP+13MP dual
24MP single,
13MP+13MP dual
21MP single,
13MP+8MP dual
21MP single,
13MP+8MP dual
21MP single,
13MP+8MP dual
20MP single21MP single16MP single16MP single
Process12nm16nm16nm16nm16nm16nm12nm28nm28nm28nm28nm

MediaTek’s most powerful processor thus far was recently announced at the MWC 2018. The Helio P60 is a continuation in the Helio series most recent of which are the Helio P30, Helio P25, and Helio P23. The MediaTek Helio P60 brings out the big guns in the form of Integrated AI processing unit (APU) which allows for a faster and more accurate face detection, better image quality and augmented reality.


“Packing big core power and performance with a processing unit purpose-built for AI applications, the MediaTek Helio P60 chipset brings consumers flagship features like deep-learning facial detection, object and scene identification, fluid gaming experiences, and smarter camera functions. This new chipset gives everyone access to incredible devices without the premium price tag.”

“MediaTek Helio P60 brings MeidaTek’s NeuroPilot AI technology to the heart of your smartphone. Its AI-compute architecture works seamlessly across CPU, GPU and Mobile APU within the SoC to maximize performance and energy efficiency”


In its later SoCs, MediaTek incorporates it’s in-house CorePilot technology with power-aware scheduling, thermal management and UX monitoring to keep a sustained high performance and reliably consistent user experience. MediaTek uses the latest TSMC 16nm FinFET production process, powering premium experiences that are also light on battery.

MiraVision is another of MediaTek’s technologies which it incorporates into its SoCs to improve image quality, readability, eye-care and power consumption. Among these, we will concentrate on EnergySmart Screen, especially as it works to combat battery drain. This technology was launched way back in 2016 exclusive to the Helio series with the  X23 and X27 chipsets. Working in conjunction with Blulight defender and Ultradimming, Energy Smart Screen reduces display power consumption by up to 25% without affecting image quality.

Qualcomm vs MediaTek: Source-code

Qualcomm is a darling in developer circles for one simple reason. The chipmaker always makes it a point to publicly avail complete source codes and documentation for their Snapdragon devices. This courtesy allows developers to tinker with the devices powered by their chipsets in order to build custom ROMs. Developer sites are flush with Qualcomm Snapdragon Custom ROMs catering to old and new devices. What this does is make smartphones running Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs have a longer shelf life compared to MediaTek.

MediaTek does none of this, unfortunately. This is partly why you will rarely come across custom ROMs of MediaTek devices. What’s more, MediaTek pumps out devices with at most a one-time upgrade. Their marketing strategy is to move on to newer devices rather than provide support for the old. So then, you will find that smartphones running MediaTek SoCs are soon dated with no means to upgrade them.

What’s worse is that there’s just so little documentation available to support tweaking these MediaTek devices. Some of the few exceptions include Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 and other devices running the newer MediaTek Helio processors. Other than that, you’re on your own. This development has created a bad rep for MediaTek in developer circles, something that makes devices running MediaTek SoCs less popular than should be the case.

Other popular smartphone chipsets

  • HiSilicon-Kirin (Huawei)
  • Exynos (Samsung)
  • A-series (Apple)
  • Tegra (NVidia)