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Here's why Qualcomm phones might get updates before MediaTek devices

It's all about the approach, and likely the workforce, too.

Published onNovember 16, 2021

Qualcomm Smartphone logo on display
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • A Xiaomi executive has provided insight into MediaTek and Qualcomm’s update philosophies.
  • MediaTek reportedly tackles updates in batches, while Qualcomm updates products in “parallel.”
  • The latter leads to quicker distribution but requires a larger workforce.

Qualcomm may have ended 2020 behind MediaTek in global smartphone chip shipments, but it still bests its rival in one key area: update rollout speed. But why is this? Thanks to a Xiaomi executive, we have a possible answer.

Per a Weibo post published by Xiaomi‘s Li Ming, Qualcomm and MediaTek’s update philosophies couldn’t be more different. According to Ming, both companies receive code from Google in advance to ensure they’re prepared when final versions of Android are released. However, Qualcomm chooses to deliver its updates in “parallel” rather than in “batches” like MediaTek. For Qualcomm, this effectively means that it works on updates for all of its products simultaneously and not in smaller, limited groups.

Naturally, this leads to a swifter, flowing update release cycle that ensures most Qualcomm devices see updates sooner than their MediaTek counterparts. However, Ming suggests that MediaTek’s staggered approach may be due to workforce constraints.

More reading: Everything you need to know about smartphone chipsets

In polls, readers have repeatedly noted how vital swift and reliable updates are when investing in a smartphone. For now, it seems that Qualcomm wins this particular battle. Notably, MediaTek’s slower update rollouts won’t likely affect its relationship with industry players. In 2020, Xiaomi was the company’s biggest client employing MediaTek hardware in several mid-range and budget phones. That said, consumers might not be so patient with the chipset maker.

What has your update experience been on MediaTek phones in the past? Be sure to let us know in the comments.

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