For a long time, Qualcomm has shipped by far the most smartphone chips — something especially true for the premium segment. But the American semiconductor giant has started to feel the heat in the entry-level and budget space. MediaTek managed to upset the status quo by pushing Qualcomm into the second spot in the quarter ending September 2020, and now leads the overall chipset market.
Counterpoint’s estimates say that about 31% of all smartphones sold worldwide were powered by MediaTek, up from 26% in the same quarter last year. In contrast, Qualcomm lost its stranglehold with a two-point decrease to 29%. The research firm notes that this jump could be attributed to the increasing prevalence of MediaTek silicon in devices under $250 sold in large emerging markets like China and India.
However, Qualcomm retained pole position (and even grew its share) in the premium segment, in part due to Huawei's decline. Qualcomm was also the biggest supplier of 5G-enabled chipsets, potentially allowing the company to reclaim its overall lead in the current quarter as the demand for 5G phones rises across various price brackets.
Despite all the turmoil since it lost access to Google services, Huawei’s HiSilicon maintained its overall 12% share. In the meantime, shipments of Exynos phones shrank from 16% to 12%, indicating a tough road ahead for Samsung's chip business. Apple, on the other hand, managed to grow its share by a single percentage point, likely because of strong demand for the budget iPhone SE and the diminutive iPhone 12 Mini.