Top 10 Facts About The Smartphone CPU Market Share

Updated · Nov 10, 2022

The CPU is that tiny chip inside your smartphone that makes it turn on and off, take a picture, post on Instagram, or open this very article so you can read it.

It’s a specialized piece of advanced engineering, an artificially designed brain that facilitates your technological needs.

Honestly, the more you think about it, the more you realize smartphones and humans have so much in common.

How spooky is that?

Almost as much as The Matrix.

Now, allow us to present you with a few facts about the smartphone CPU market share.

And don’t worry—we at Web Tribunal like to keep the horror aside, so you’ll find no more doomsday sci-fi references here. Not many, at least.

Fascinating Smartphone CPU Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • MediaTek ranks first in the global market in 2022.
  • Apple’s processors saw a 6% QoQ drop in market share heading into 2022.
  • Qualcomm’s market share increased by 7% from Q4 2020 to Q1 2022.
  • UNISOC remained the 4th largest CPU manufacturer over the course of 2021.
  • Allegedly, the Apple A14 Bionic chip was the best smartphone processor in 2021.
  • Qualcomm’s processors are the most popular among premium Android devices.
  • In the US, Qualcomm was the biggest brand—up until Q4 2021, when MediaTek took over (51% vs. 47%).

The Important Smartphone CPU Statistics in 2022

Just like there are precious few participants in the computer CPU market, there are only a few brands that are well-liked for their smartphone processors.

Depending on the class and structure of the chips, some manufacturers hold a larger portion of the market, but the state of affairs in each segment is fluid.

We’ve gathered all of that information in one place, so you can see who has dominated the mobile chip market up until now.

1. MediaTek ranked first in Q1 2022.

(Source: Counterpoint)

As of 2022, MediaTek is the unshakeable winner in the production of smartphone chips. Hogging a tremendous 38% of the global market, the company recorded a 5% QoQ increase from Q4 2021, when it sold 33% of all smartphone CPUs.

While the quarterly increase is indeed very promising, we should note that MediaTek’s share actually dropped a bit compared to the previous year. The company held 39% of the market in Q1 2021.

2. Apple’s processors saw a 6% QoQ drop as we entered 2022.

(Source: Counterpoint)

This wasn’t entirely unexpected. Apple comes out with new iPhones—and consequently new mobile chipsets—at the end of each year.

So, the fact that Apple had a 21% share of the market in Q4 2021 and just 15% in Q1 2022 doesn’t reflect any meaningful negative trend. Instead, it points to Apple’s predictable seasonality.

3. UNISOC remained the 4th largest CPU manufacturer throughout 2021.

(Source: Counterpoint)

However, it’s a progressive 4th.

Although during the entirety of 2021, UNISOC remained behind MediaTek, Qualcomm, and Apple, it kept slowly and gradually increasing its market share

Take Q1 2021, for example, when there was a UNISOC chip in 7% of smartphones. Well, by Q4 2021, it had reached 11% of the market, rising by an average of 1% each quarter.

And the good news is that it seems to be keeping up the same energy. At least in Q1 2022, UNISOC still held 11% of the market.

4. Samsung CPUs represented only 5% of all smartphone processors in Q1 2022.

(Source: Counterpoint)

That’s a 1% negative difference compared to the previous year (6% in Q1 2021) but also a 1% positive change compared to the previous quarter (4% in Q4 2021).

Those fluctuations show that Samsung’s share of the smartphone CPU market has remained firmly in the 4%-6% range for the past year.

Supposedly though, with the new Exynos 1280 SoCs chips, which came out with the Galaxy A33 and A53, the company could possibly boost its market share. We’ll have to wait and see if this prediction comes true.

5. Apple’s A14 Bionic chip earned 165 points on the Centurion Mark scale.

(Source: Tech Centurion)

The Centurion Mark takes into account the raw characteristics of a chip, its real-world performance, and battery efficiency. All of these measures combined aim to evaluate how a chip is doing compared to others.

According to Tech Centurion’s analysis in 2021, the iPhone 12 is carrying the best smartphone CPU. The A14 Bionic ranks above the Exynos-2100-carrying Samsung Galaxy S21 (156 points) and, unsurprisingly, Apple’s own A13 Bionic chip (154 points).

Qualcomm vs. MediaTek: How About Some Bets?

MediaTek and Qualcomm are the top players in the market.

Differing in growth and dominating different segments of the industry, these two make it hard to identify which one is the clear winner.

See these comparative stats and judge for yourself.

6. Qualcomm’s market share increased from 23% in Q4 2020 to…

(Source: Counterpoint)

…a staggering 30% in Q1 2022.

You probably remember from the previous section that MediaTek’s share was slightly higher (38%). Well, Qualcomm has a promising and very valuable advantage. Throughout the 2020-2022 period, its change was gradual and always in a positive direction. 

Final numbers are important, but the process of reaching those numbers is even more so. And speaking of “final” numbers (so far)…

7. MediaTek was the ultimate leader in Q2 2021.

(Source: Counterpoint)

So, by now, it’s clear that Qualcomm and MediaTek have the biggest share of the global Android market—in terms of CPUs, of course.

MediaTek had a significant quarterly decrease in 2021, going from a 42% share in Q2 to just 33% in Q4.

By the next quarter (Q1 2022), it had almost recovered. By Q2 2022, there were no doubts about it—MediaTek managed to grasp 42% of all chipsets. That’s something no other brand can brag about.

Now, let’s talk about the smartphone CPU market share in the US, specifically.

8. MediaTek dethroned Qualcomm in the US processor market.

(Source: The Verge)

In Q1 2021, 67% of the Android mobile processors belonged to Qualcomm, leaving just 29% to MediaTek.

Just a few months later, in Q4 2021, MediaTek surpassed Qualcomm’s share—only by 4%, but still, quite the turnaround, don’t you think?

MediaTek (51%) showed Qualcomm (47%) who’s the new boss in town.

My, my, how the tables turn…

But remember—any category has at least a hundred subcategories. What if we now looked at processor market share by smartphone price range?

9. Qualcomm is the front-runner among smartphones in the $300+ price band.

(Source: Gizmochina)

Both the mid-high and the premium-flagship classes are in Qualcomm’s hands, and MediaTek has almost no say there.

For example, in the $600-$699 segment, 57% of the smartphone processor market belongs to Qualcomm. MediaTek? It’s nowhere to be found on the scale.

Here’s another flabbergasting instance: Qualcomm leads with a 70% share of the market when it comes to smartphones priced at $500-$599. In this case, MediaTek is way behind, with a mere 7% share.

But wait, if Qualcomm’s processors go to the more expensive devices…

10. Is Qualcomm making more money?

(Source: Counterpoint)

Yes, it definitely is.

In terms of revenue, the winning mobile processor company is Qualcomm, with $11.6 billion in Q1 2022. That’s its third consecutive record in terms of quarterly revenue.

MediaTek, on the other hand, generated $4.8 billion in Q1 2022—that’s less than half of Qualcomm’s revenue, true, but we agreed there’s something to be said for progress, didn’t we?

And those $4.8 billion just so happen to represent a handsome 32% increase YoY.

Wrap Up

See? There was no horror-Matrix-type-of-beat here, as we promised.

But there was some serious competition about which company is the biggest in terms of smartphone CPU market share.

Regardless of which company—MediaTek or Qualcomm—is the top one, it’s important to look at the market as a whole, taking into account as many factors as possible.

Because you know how it works: one day, MediaTek is at the summit, and the next day the forever-fourth UNISOC might push it down the hill.

Only time will tell—and once it does, we’ll record it in our list of smartphone CPU statistics.

Nick Galov
Nick Galov

Unaware that life beyond the internet exists, Nick is poking servers and control panels, playing with WordPress add-ons, and helping people get the hosting that suits them.