When it comes to chipset for smartphones, people remember Qualcomm, with the Snapdragon, the hottest Exynos, MediaTek and Apple. But have you heard of the Unisoc brand? So, save that name because it should be mentioned a lot in the basic and intermediate segments in the future.
Here at Canaltech, we test and report on the most diverse types of consumer products, from different brands, price ranges and categories. And, in recent months, the Unisoc brand has appeared frequently, whether equipping smartphones and tablets, or just launching something new to the market.
And the question that remains in the air is: what did Unisoc do to appear so much? Are Unisoc’s chipset products really that good? Let’s talk.
Context and positioning
Unisoc is not completely new to the market — in fact, it was once well known when it went by the name Spreadtrum. The processor company operates in many areas in more than 100 countries, but, in this agenda, we will focus on the mobile sector, where it serves basic and intermediate devices sold mainly in emerging countries.
Unisoc’s strategy of focusing on less advanced devices has been working very well for two main reasons. The first is commercial, since, according to an analyst at Counterpoint Research, it exempts the manufacturer from any problems with the United States — at least so far.
Furthermore, according to a report by the South China Morning Post published in March, the company has been working on diversifying its operations to mitigate potential risks, such as producing 5G chips not only for consumer products, but also industrial, electrical, mining and even Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.
The second reason is more strategic, because, following the tactic used by MediaTek — which became the largest chip manufacturer in the world by directing its efforts to the low and medium cost segments — it overtook Samsung and HiSilicon (Huawei) with 10% of market shareaccording to Counterpoint Research released at the end of 2022.
Of course, we cannot fail to mention some factors that have driven Unisoc over the last few years, such as criticism of Samsung over the Exynos line and the damage suffered by Huawei with US trade sanctions in 2019.
Mobile phones with a Unisoc chip are generally cheaper
Many brands are betting on Unisoc solutions to reduce the production cost of their devices and, consequently, reduce the price for the consumer. Samsung, for example, launched the Galaxy A03 in Brazil with the Unisoc T606, which costs around R$650, while HMD Global (Nokia) brought the G21 with the same chipset.
Motorola, ZTE, Infinitx, UMIDIGI, HTC, Oukitel, Blackview, Ulefone, Tecno and Realme are other examples of manufacturers that have basic smartphones using Chinese processors.
Realme is a personally interesting case because I recently analyzed a smartphone from the Chinese company, the Realme C35, which surprised me a lot with its above-average performance for an entry-level cell phone — and it was from it that the inspiration to produce this guideline came.
In my tests, the smartphone performed extremely well in opening and running applications and games. Even compared to categorically superior models like the Galaxy A14 5G, it fared better in the overall experience, despite benchmark tests showing the opposite.
Obviously, many factors are included for a good performance of the device, such as interface, RAM memory and internal storage, but the chipset present in the C35 proved to be very competent in everyday life.
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In addition, I spoke with my co-workers Felipe Junqueira and Ramalho Lima, who analyzed cheap cell phones with Unisoc processors, and both described their experiences as “decent, delivering a reasonable experience for the positioning of the device, in an entry-level category”.
Are mobile phones with Unisoc processor really good?
I know that users looking for smartphones in this price range barely care about processor models, just wanting them to work well for the basics. But if you come across an intermediary equipped with this brand in the future, I recommend giving it a chance.
Gradually, the Chinese company has been betting on simpler processors with a 5G connection, such as the recently launched T750, built in 6 nanometers (nm) and capable of supporting LPDDR4X type RAM and UFS 3.1 storage. There is also the T820, which supports up to 108 MP camera and 4K@60fps recording.
From my experience with the most basic models, Unisoc has everything to follow in the footsteps of MediaTek in the market. Soon, we should see entry-level phones and entry-level phones offering even more recent technologies, while maintaining aggressive prices.
Source: SCMP, Kimovil, Unisoc, Counterpoint Research