Are phones powered by MediaTek any good?

The CPU is the brain of your phone, and most top of the range devices use Qualcomm Snapdragon processors. Can MediaTek compete and are they worth it? We dig into the truth behind MTK processors.
Mobile CPU

The latest flagship phones all seem to be powered by the same Qualcomm SnapDragon processors, currently the SnapDragon 888. They are certainly powerful but they are also expensive. Is there another way? Enter MediaTek with their huge range of affordable mobile CPUs. 

You may be surprised to know that in 2020 tracking firm Omdia ranked  MediaTek as the world’s largest smartphone chipset seller. MTK processors may not be in the latest and greatest flagships, but they are very common in low-end and mid-range phones.

What phones use MediaTek Processors?

A lot of very well thought of phones use MediaTek processors. This includes the Xaiomi Redmi Note series, The Realme 7 and several models from Samsung.

Here are our top 5 picks:

  1. Redmi Note 9T
  2. Realme X7 Pro Ultra
  3. Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
  4. Nokia 2.4
  5. Oppo Reno 5 Z

What about brands I haven’t heard of?

MediaTek is certainly well represented in good value phones, often imported from China. Just check out this Amazon search which includes brands like Doogee, Ulephone and Oukitel. Don’t worry, we haven’t heard of them either…

Can I get 5G?

Yes, you can get 5G on a MediaTek powered phone. MediaTek has two main CPU families – Helio and Dimensity. Helio processors are found in everything from entry-level to mid-high end 4G phones, while Dimensity is a newer architecture that supports 5G.

How about security?

Like all technology, there is always someone trying to exploit flaws in mobile CPUs. In early 2020 Google released information about an exploit for some MediaTek processors that could give unscrupulous apps unauthorised access to data. The flaw was fixed and only affects phones running Android versions 7,8 and 9. Since most phones now come with Android 10 or 11 it shouldn’t affect phones purchased in 2021.

So MediaTek isn’t that bad?

Don’t be put off if you see a phone with a MediaTek processor. As long as it is a recent version then a MediaTek powered phone can be a great choice. If you are buying a phone with a Helio processor then you are unlikely to be paying £1000 for your new phone, which is definitely a plus.

What should I avoid?

As we say, there are a lot of phones you will enjoy using and find to be exceptional value. However, some unscupulous sellers advertise phones on dubious sources like Wish.com that aren’t what they seem to be.

These phones are often pitched as alternatives to popular flagships for very, very low prices. They are built very cheaply and often use very basic and cheap MediaTek processors. These phones are not CE marked or safety tested and may also include unsafe batteries. We strongly recommend you get your phones from reputable sources with a warranty.  Remember, if it seems too good to be true then it almost certainly is. The same practices often leak through to other online marketplaces, including ebay.

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