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Cheap Bluetooth 5 phones are here with the MediaTek Helio A22

MediaTek's Helio A range is now official, bringing high-end connectivity features to a low price point.

Published onJuly 17, 2018

MediaTek Helio chipset

After a not-so-secret build up, MediaTek has officially unveiled a new addition to its smartphone chip portfolio — the Helio A series. Reflecting the company’s shift in focus to the fastest growing areas of the smartphone market, this isn’t a new high-performance flagship product. However, that doesn’t make it any less interesting. The new range is designed to bring more advanced smartphone features down to very competitive price points.

The new range of chips are lower end than MediaTek’s Helio P series — which caters to mid-range and high-end handsets — but higher-end than some of the company’s very basic chips for entry-level products. The A range has been designed to meet many of the most common smartphone needs, including longer battery life, high quality and dual camera support, fast global LTE, and growing AI applications — features we wouldn’t typically associate with budget devices.

Android Go: What is it and which phones run it?

As such, the Helio A series is aimed predominantly at “transition devices.” In other words, it’s for the growing number of customers moving from their first feature phones to their first smartphones.

The chip provides OEMs with full support for the upcoming Android Go Edition of Android P, Meaning upcoming handsets will be able to run a highly optimized version of Android using MediaTek’s latest lower cost hardware.

These chips could be great for first-time smartphone consumers, and the budget conscious at large.

Advanced camera and connectivity features with Android Go supports makes Helio A a well-rounded package.

Meet the Helio A22

The first chip in the new series is the Helio A22. Its quad-core 2.6GHz Cortex-A53 CPU and Imagination GE8320 GPU won’t win any performance awards, but the spec sheet becomes much more interesting once we delve into the wide range of features it supports.

The Helio A22 is built on a 12nm FinFET process, offering lower power draw and better battery life than other low-cost chipsets, which often built on larger, cheaper manufacturing nodes like 28nm. Connectivity features are just as impressive, with high-end Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and GNSS location tracking. The chip’s modem also supports fast LTE thanks to configurable Cat-4 or Cat-7 LTE with carrier aggregation, depending on the level of expense device manufacturers want to spend on radio components. There’s also dual 4G SIM support with both VoLTE and ViLTE.

The chip can power a single 21 megapixel or dual 13 and 8 megapixel camera configurations, along with image processing features like bokeh blur, de-mosaicking, and noise reduction. Display support peaks at a resolution of 1600 x 700, which allows for a very wide 20:9 aspect ratio. RAM can be configured as either LPDDR3 or LPDDR4X, giving phone designers an easy upgrade route as RAM prices fall and availability further improves.

Finally, if you’re hot on AI features, the Helio A22 supports the Android NN platform. This can be used to offer machine-learning-based features like face unlock and image enhancements. These are supported on the CPU and GPU. The A22 doesn’t boast dedicated machine learning hardware like the company’s higher-end Helio P60.

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MediaTek isn’t wasting any time bringing this chip to market. The Helio A22 is already in volume production and will be available in the Chinese version of the new Xiaomi Redmi 6. It’s also the first 12nm chip to support the Android P Go Edition. The first products in this category should launch in early Q4 this year.

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