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MediaTek Helio P65 announced: An overdue CPU upgrade, but what else? (Update)

MediaTek's latest chipset lacks the AI silicon of its predecessor, but it might bring a ton of power to low-end phones.

Published onJune 25, 2019

The MediaTek Helio P65.

Update, June 28, 2019 (01:24AM ET): MediaTek has come back to us, confirming that the Helio P65 doesn’t have AI silicon like its predecessor. The company says it’s running AI tasks via the upgraded CPU instead, giving it 100 GMACS of performance. By comparison, the Helio P60 offered 280 GMACS of AI performance, owing to its APU.

The company has also clarified the chip’s positioning, saying it’ll appear in the “same category as devices powered by the Helio P60 and below.” In fact, the company made a point of comparing the chipset to the low-end Helio P22 and P35 chipsets. This suggests that sub-$150 smartphones are in for a major power boost.

MediaTek said the Helio P65 is already in mass production and is expected to appear in devices next month. What do you make of the new chipset?

Original article, June 25, 2019 (8:02AM ET): The MediaTek Helio P60 arguably marked the Taiwanese chipmaker’s return to form. Sure, it’s not producing flagship silicon anymore, but the Helio P60 brought AI silicon and capable CPU cores to the mid-range sector.

Now, MediaTek has quietly announced the Helio P65 today, and it seems to be a solid power upgrade over the currently available chips. The new processor features an octa-core design, offering two Cortex-A75 CPU cores and six Cortex-A55 cores. The Cortex-A75 isn’t the latest high-end Arm CPU core at all, but it’s certainly a big step up from the Helio P60/P70’s Cortex-A73 core.

Expect the older chipsets to remain competitive for multi-core workloads though, as they feature four high-end cores while the new chip only has two high-end cores. Otherwise, MediaTek is also using a Mali-G52 GPU, which is pretty much the same GPU used in the brand-new Kirin 810.

A few compromises for Helio P65?

The MediaTek Helio P65 also packs support for dual 16MP cameras or one 48MP camera. It’s a little disappointing that the chipset doesn’t support triple cameras or a 48MP main camera alongside another camera. We’ve seen both triple rear cameras and 48MP dual camera options (e.g. Redmi Note 7) in budget phones this year, so it seems like the chip designer is missing out here.

As for connectivity, you’ve got improved GPS, dual 4G VoLTE, Bluetooth 5, and Cat-7 downlink/Cat-13 uplink. Other specs include 2,520 x 1,080 screen support, up to 8GB of RAM, face unlock, and Pump Express fast charging.

MediaTek's new 5G chipset targets affordable flagships
MediaTek Helio M70 5G SoC

The Helio P65 is far from a perfect budget chipset on paper though, as there are quite a few features missing from the spec sheet. Don’t expect to see Wi-Fi 6, UFS storage support, or 4K recording here. It’s also not clear whether the chipset actually packs an APU (AI Processing Unit) like its predecessors. The company notes a 2x performance boost over previous “mainstream” MediaTek chips, but the processor listing doesn’t mention an APU or any other comparable silicon.

We’ve contacted MediaTek for clarification and will update the article accordingly. But the apparent lack of UFS and an AI processor suggests that we’re either looking at a low-end chipset or a mid-range processor that’s inferior in some key areas to previous entries.

What do you think of the Helio P65 chipset? Let us know in the comments.

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