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Unisoc processor guide: Here's what you need to know

Can Unisoc compete with Qualcomm and Mediatek?
By
April 11, 2022
Unisoc T618 processor 1 1
Unisoc

Qualcomm, MediaTek, Samsung and Huawei might rule the mobile processor roost, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only players in town. In the past few years, we’ve also seen another player emerge in the form of China’s Unisoc, mainly gaining ground in the entry-level sector.

Unisoc (formerly Spreadtrum), founded in 2001, is slowly making waves thanks to deals with players like Nokia, Realme, and ZTE. In fact, Unisoc’s most high-profile customer in recent years is Samsung, so there’s a small chance you’ve used a device powered by this brand before.

What should you expect from Unisoc processors though? We put together a beginner’s guide to Unisoc SoCs.

More SoC coverage: Qualcomm Snapdragon processor guide — Specs and features explained

Low-end Unisoc chips

Unisoc’s first foray into low-end chips, starting in 2012, yielded chips that were lacking features, even back then. Some chips in their initial lineup lacked 3G capabilities, but we did see single-core A7 or dual-core A5 CPUs and single or Mali 400 GPUs.

Fast-forward to the modern era and its current range of low-end chips consists of the SC9863A, SC9832E, and SC7731E, all being built on ancient 28nm designs, lacking UFS storage support, and offering Bluetooth 4.2.

SC9863ASC9832ESC7731E
CPU
SC9863A
8x Cortex-A55 @ 1.6Ghz
SC9832E
4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.4Ghz
SC7731E
4x Cortex-A7 @ 1.3GHz
GPU
SC9863A
PowerVR GE8322
SC9832E
Mali-T820 MP1
SC7731E
Mali-T820
RAM
SC9863A
LPDDR4X
SC9832E
LPDDR3
SC7731E
LPDDR3
Display
SC9863A
2,160 x 1,080
SC9832E
1,440 x 720
SC7731E
1,440 x 720
Cameras
SC9863A
16MP+5MP dual
1080p/30fps video
SC9832E
13MP single
1080p/30fps video
SC7731E
8MP single
720p/30fps video
Connectivity
SC9863A
Bluetooth 4.2
Cat 7 LTE
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
SC9832E
Bluetooth 4.2
Cat 4 LTE
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
SC7731E
Bluetooth 4.2
3G (HSPA)
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Process
SC9863A
28nm
SC9832E
28nm
SC7731E
28nm

The SC9863A is the most capable SoC of the lot, serving up an octa-core Arm Cortex-A55 CPU and a PowerVR GE8322 GPU which should deliver decent everyday performance. Other notable specs include Cat 7 LTE (300Mbps downlink speeds), LPDDR4X RAM support, FHD+ display resolution, and 16MP+5MP dual camera support.

Next on the totem pole is the SC9832E, serving up a distinctly budget quad-core Cortex-A53 CPU and pretty old Mali T820-MP1 GPU. The chipset cuts things back when it comes to cellular connectivity (Cat 4 LTE), RAM support, and display resolution, among other things.

The entry-level Unisoc chipsets have found their way into several low-end devices such as Android Go phones.

Finally, the SC7731E is an obsolete design that doesn’t even have LTE, offering HSPA support instead. The quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU is something from almost a decade ago, while the Mali-T820 GPU is newer but still super-old by the standards of rival chip designers Qualcomm, Samsung, and Mediatek.

Broadly speaking, these chipsets are comparable to Qualcomm’s older Snapdragon 200 series and less capable Snapdragon 400 range in many ways. But the last few generations of Snapdragon 400 processors blow these chips out of the water in terms of power and/or efficiency.

Notable phones:

  • Realme C11 2021 (SC9863A)
  • Nokia C3 (SC9832E)
  • Samsung Galaxy A03 Core (SC9863A)

Mid-range Unisoc chips

Samsung Galaxy A03 1
Samsung

Unisoc launched its Tiger range of chipsets a few years ago and it’s since expanded this family, so you can now find a variety of processors at a number of price points.

The T310 was one of the first chipsets in this segment, launching back in 2019 with a rather interesting quad-core CPU (one Cortex-A75 and three Cortex-A55) and modest PowerVR GT7200 graphics.

T310T606T610
CPU
T310
1x Cortex-A75
3x Cortex-A55
T606
2x Cortex-A75
6x Cortex-A55
T610
2x Cortex-A75
6x Cortex-A55
GPU
T310
PowerVR GE8300
T606
Mali-G57 MC1
T610
Mali-G52 MC2
RAM
T310
LPDDR4X
T606
LPDDR4X
T610
LPDDR4X
Display
T310
1,600 x 720
T606
1,600 x 720 at 90Hz
T610
2,400 x 1,080
Camera
T310
16MP+8MP dual
1080p/30fps video
T606
16MP+8MP dual or 24MP single
T610
32MP single
Connectivity
T310
Bluetooth 5.0
Cat 7 LTE
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac
T606
Bluetooth 5.0
Cat 7 LTE
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac
T610
Bluetooth 5.0
Cat 7 LTE
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac
Process
T310
12nm
T606
12nm
T610
12nm
T616T618
CPU
T616
2x Cortex-A75
6x Cortex-A55
T618
2x Cortex-A75
6x Cortex-A55
GPU
T616
Mali-G57 MC1
T618
Mali-G52 MC2
RAM
T616
LPDDR4X
T618
LPDDR4X
Display
T616
FHD+ at 60Hz
HD+ at 90Hz
T618
2,400 x 1,080
Camera
T616
16MP+16MP dual or 64MP single
1080p/60fps video
T618
64MP single
1080p/60fps video
Connectivity
T616
Bluetooth 5.0
Cat 7 LTE
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac
T618
Bluetooth 5.0
Cat 7 LTE
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac
Process
T616
12nm
T618
12nm

The firm’s other mid-range processors are the 4G-enabled Tiger T600 series (namely the T606, T610, T616, and T618). These chips are equipped with an octa-core CPU (two Cortex-A75 and six Cortex-A55), varying in terms of clock speed.

We also get Arm’s Mali-G5x series graphics here, namely the Mali-G52 MC2 for the T610 and T618, the Mali-G52 MC1 for the T606, and the Mali-G57 MC2 for the T616. Thankfully, these chipsets are all built on a 12nm process, which should translate to relatively efficient designs in theory.

Recommended reading: What is an SoC? Everything you need to know about smartphone chipsets

Other common features here include Bluetooth 5.0, support for FHD+ display resolutions, LPDDR4X RAM support, and Cat 7 LTE speeds. The SoCs do vary in terms of camera capabilities though, with the T618 offering the most impressive support.

These chips have achieved some solid design wins in phones from the likes of Motorola, Realme, and Samsung, albeit restricted to low-end devices. We also saw the T610 notably find its way into the Nokia T20 tablet. Either way, you can expect these chips to go up against processors like the Snapdragon 460 and Helio G80.

Notable phones:

  • Moto E20 (T606)
  • Realme C25Y (T610)
  • Samsung Galaxy A03 (T606)
  • ZTE Blade V30 (T618)

Top-end Unisoc chips

Unisoc V510 modem 1
Unisoc

Unisoc doesn’t really have any flagship processors that can go up against current Snapdragon, Samsung, and Mediatek silicon. Nevertheless, the company’s top-end chips are the Tiger T770 and T760.

Starting with the most capable SoC of the lot, the T770 is pretty impressive for the Chinese chipmaker. You’ve got a 6nm design here, along with a 2.6GHz octa-core CPU (one Cortex-A76, three Cortex-A76, four Cortex-A55) and a Mali-G57 GPU.

Unisoc's high-end processors are a few steps behind the industry leaders, but it's firmly in the 5G era now.

The T770 certainly ticks plenty of boxes elsewhere, such as a sub-6GHz V510 5G modem, an NPU delivering 4.8 TOPs of power, support for 108MP cameras, 4K/60fps video recording, and 120Hz support at FHD+ display resolutions (or QHD+ at 60Hz).

Meanwhile, the T760 is very similar to the T770 but makes cutbacks in a number of areas. This includes CPU clock speeds, NPU power, video recording, refresh rate, and camera support.

T770T760T710/740
CPU
T770
1x Cortex-A76
3x Cortex-A76
4x Cortex-A55
T760
4x Cortex-A76
4x Cortex-A55
T710/740
4x Cortex-A75
4x Cortex-A55
GPU
T770
Mali-G57
T760
Mali-G57
T710/740
PowerVR IMG9446
RAM
T770
LPDDR4X
T760
LPDDR4X
T710/740
LPDDR4X
NPU
T770
4.8 TOPs
T760
2.4 TOPs
T710/740
3.2 TOPs
Camera
T770
108MP single
4K/60fps video
T760
108MP single
4K/30fps video
T710/740
64MP single
4K/30fps video
Display
T770
FHD+ at 120Hz
QHD+ at 60Hz
T760
FHD+ at 90Hz
T710/740
FHD+ or QHD+ at 60Hz
Connectivity
T770
Bluetooth 5.0
Sub-6GHz 5G
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac
T760
Bluetooth 5.0
Sub-6GHz 5G
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac
T710/740
Bluetooth 5.0
Sub-6GHz 5G (T740)
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac
Process
T770
6nm
T760
6nm
T710/740

The firm also offered the 2019-era Tiger T710 chipset as its previous “flagship” processor of sorts, although this didn’t have an integrated modem. Core specs include an octa-core CPU (four Cortex-A76 and four Cortex-A55), PowerVR 9446 graphics, and a relatively powerful NPU for the time. Interestingly, the T710 later gained a sub-6GHz 5G modem and became the Tiger T740.

It looks like only the Tiger T740 has a made commercial appearance in smartphones to date. OEMs have turned to Qualcomm and Mediatek for their high-end or upper mid-range needs instead.

Notable phones:

  • Hisense F50 (T740)

That’s it for our look at Unisoc processors, but have you used its chipsets before? Let us know via the comments section below.