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MediaTek's next chips may deliver big speed boosts for low-cost phones

You might not have to spend a lot to get a fast, 5G-capable phone.

Published onNovember 2, 2020

MediaTek 5G chipset.
  • MediaTek is reportedly preparing two new phone chips based on cutting-edge 5nm (or possibly 6nm) technology.
  • They’d use speedy Cortex-A78 cores that could offer a large boost for budget phones.
  • They might arrive by the end of 2020.

MediaTek might not be done making a more compelling case for lower-cost phones. A new leak (via Gizchina) from Digital Chat Station hints that MediaTek is working on two 5nm (possibly 6nm) chips, the MT6839 and MT6891, that could deliver a large performance improvement for more affordable handsets.

Both will reportedly have cores based on Arm’s new Cortex-A78 architecture. They won’t offer the top-tier performance of the Cortex-X1, then, but that should still lead to a significant improvement over the Cortex-A77 in MediaTek’s Dimensity 1000 Plus — possibly the 20% Arm suggested. You could see a slight improvement to battery life at the same time.

It’s not certain what else the new 5nm chips would offer, although MediaTek already has integrated 5G in existing products. It won’t be shocking if they keep the Dimensity name given how relatively little it has been used so far.

See also: The best budget phones you can currently buy

The tipster didn’t mention when the MT6839 and MT6891 would be ready, although the company is supposedly developing at a quicker pace than it was last year. There’s a real chance you’ll hear about MediaTek’s 5nm systems-on-chip before the end of 2020, even if phones built around the technology won’t necessarily be ready at the same time.

These parts could be crucial, whenever they arrive. Competition has been heating up among chips low-end and mid-range phones, particularly with Qualcomm introducing parts like the Snapdragon 750G. MediaTek’s 5nm introductions could keep phone makers flocking to its hardware — and they could help everyone by improving phone performance expectations, even for those of us with tight budgets.