Xiaomi Mi 5 could feature a MediaTek instead of the Snapdragon 820


xiaomi mi4c review

The Xiaomi Mi 5 is taking a long time coming, but what we knew was that it would have a Snapdragon 820 processor. It turns out, there’s a twist to the story… at least a possibility.

Word is that Xiaomi isn’t too happy with the royalties Qualcomm will charge for the Snapdragon 820, which has prompted the Chinese phone maker to look elsewhere for an SoC for its next phone. You would expect things such as these to be cleared well ahead of launch normally, but for a company like Xiaomi that operates on a razor thin margin, every penny is important (figurative speaking, of course).

And by ‘looking elsewhere’ for an SoC you probably know what I meant — MediaTek. Ever since their MT67xx series of 64-bit processors came out, MediaTek have been making big strides not only in the entry-level and mid-range market, but also the high-end market with the Helio X10 and upwards.

As for the Mi 5, the MediaTek Helio X20 looks like an obvious choice for Xiaomi. It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out in the end, however, because almost exactly one year back, Xiaomi were asked to stop selling their MediaTek phones in India… a market that happens to be of immense importance for Xiaomi and one where they’ve gone closest to replicating their Chinese success.

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63 Comments

  1. balcobomber25
    November 12, 2015

    I don’t see it happening for three reasons:

    1. India is too big of a potential market for them not to get the Mi5.

    2. Xiaomi is Qualcomm’s biggest customer, they aren’t paying the same price for chips as everyone else.

    3. Qualcomm is a minor investor in Xiaomi and was one of the original investors. Xiaomi has been incredibly loyal too them over the years.

    • MattD
      November 12, 2015

      I totally agree, i don’t understand how someone can fall for rumors like this… :-/

      • balcobomber25
        November 12, 2015

        Well Xiaomi did use Mediatek for Redmi Note 2 so I can understand the rumours, I just personally don’t think it will happen.

        • Muhammad Yasir
          November 12, 2015

          emphasis on “personally don’t think”

          • balcobomber25
            November 12, 2015

            My personal views are shaped by years of experience with Xiaomi products, a knowledge of the inner workings of Chinese phones and actual experience working with this industry.

            • Tajwar
              November 12, 2015

              That’s why we trust you more than the companies you deserve a big Thank You.

            • MaxPower
              November 12, 2015

              don’t trust him when he speaks about Gionee phones though.
              πŸ˜‰

            • Tajwar
              November 12, 2015

              Yea that part’s a little sketchy ;-]

            • balcobomber25
              November 13, 2015

              I actually haven’t been as impressed with them lately. The new S6 looks like a shameless Iphone 6 clone. Gionee has always had their own unique designs it’s a shame to see them go down that road.

            • King
              November 13, 2015

              E7 πŸ˜€

        • MattD
          November 12, 2015

          Of course, but we saw the original redmi note with both mediatek and snapdragon as well, and no one was like “xiaomi mi4 will have mt6595″… This year we are seeing rumors like this because of the great improvement made by mediatek, but there is no reason to think it’s a real thing!

          • balcobomber25
            November 12, 2015

            MTK has gained significant ground in terms of processing they are still far behind in GPUs. They are closing the gap though. Neither of them come close to Samsung Exnyos though, a Xiaomi with a Exynos would be epic!

            • MattD
              November 12, 2015

              Yeah, what’s really bothering me is that gpu is where they cut the price, and same goes for kirin too.
              A xiaomi with exynos 7420 this year would have kicked ass, but let’s be honest: we all know meizu has worked far too hard to have monopoly on those socs! πŸ˜€

            • balcobomber25
              November 12, 2015

              Samsung would sell to Xiaomi if they really wanted it and they have the capacity to meet the demand. Xiaomi has just never been interested. They have a good relationship with Qualcomm, they probably wouldn’t even give it a thought.

    • MaxPower
      November 12, 2015

      4: a new Xiaomi phone with the SD820 just showed up on Geekbench.

      but i have to be honest, i wouldn’t be surprised if they launch two variants:

      the basic one with Helio X20, 3GB/16GB
      priced at their usual 1999 CNY

      and a premium version with SD820 4GB/64GB and maybe a bigger display priced at 2499 CNY

      what’s your thoughts?

      • balcobomber25
        November 12, 2015

        I could see a similar situation to Mi4i down the line, with a phone specifically for India. But not at launch, the cots of the R&D for two models with different tech would be too much of an initial blow.

        • MaxPower
          November 12, 2015

          that was brain gymnastic, they will make a SD820 MI5 for sure.
          we saw the Tenaa certification and Geekbench sheet, so there’s no secret about it.

          I liked the idea of the 2 variants though and i really don’t find it so unrealistic.
          I mean, if LeTV did it at their first approach on this industry then i don’t see why Xiaomi couldn’t.

          But again, that’s just brain gymnastic.

          • balcobomber25
            November 12, 2015

            Lol. Anything is possible in this industry. But if there were two variants I think both would be SD SoCs. The main reason I expect only one version at launch is because the Mi4c is still relatively new, a weaker Mi5 would be competing with that directly. Instead I like the idea of Mi5 in January/February and a Mi5ii/c in summer. Similar to how Apple uses the “s” line to freshen up phones

            • MaxPower
              November 12, 2015

              they better hurry up with whatever they decide to do.
              I’m in need for a new phone pronto!

            • balcobomber25
              November 12, 2015

              Mi5 is probably the only phone that could pry me away from MX5. For me though there’s 4 thing it has to have (could care less about SoC as long as it doesn’t overheat):

              1. 5-5.5 inch display
              2. Fingerprint scanner
              3. IR
              4. Metal (just like the feel)

              If it has those 4 I’ll buy it day one.

            • MaxPower
              November 12, 2015

              mine:

              – 5.2-5.7 inch (no more 5″ for me)

              – Fingerprint scanner

              – NFC (i wanna use my phone to pay my Latte at Starbucks :D)

              – IR (i like it, but no biggie if isn’t there)

              – I like metal better

              My first request would be LTE bands but i know it’s not going to happen.

            • balcobomber25
              November 12, 2015

              Yea I know LTE is a long shot lol. You don’t just use the Starbucks app? I just load $25 a week and use it to pay for my coffee.

            • MaxPower
              November 12, 2015

              yeah but then you have to have an app for every single store.
              with the Google Pay you just tap your phone on it and authorize the payment through the fingerprint scanner.

            • balcobomber25
              November 12, 2015

              I only use Starbucks and Dunkin App anyways so its really no biggie for me.

            • MaxPower
              November 12, 2015

              no Panera?

            • balcobomber25
              November 12, 2015

              Lol was actually there this morning for a bagel! But don’t go often, do like their coffee though

            • Tajwar
              November 12, 2015

              Dat Segway to coffee shops…

            • ARUN SUBRAMANIAN
              November 13, 2015

              adding to wishlist,superb 16 mp camera..13 is also fine provided there is great details!…Fingerprint scanner desirable but no way a deal breaker,never used NFC.5’2 3GB 1080p is ideal size,ram,ppi,not too small,not too large…and oh yes,3000-3400 mAH battery

            • King
              November 13, 2015

              I wish I could up-vote you and Balco twice for that! πŸ˜€

            • MaxPower
              November 13, 2015

              do you like Lattes too? πŸ™‚

            • King
              November 14, 2015

              how did you know that. πŸ˜€

              Latte over cappuccino or anything else, always. No latte, then I think tea first. πŸ˜‰

      • King
        November 13, 2015

        I hope they start selling the Mi5 in India with SD820 before Christmas. You’d be my Santa! πŸ˜€

        • MaxPower
          November 13, 2015

          i don’t want to ruin your Christmas, but i don’t see that happening for logistic issues.

          Let’s suppose that it will be launched as early as end of November ( I strongly doubt that).

          Then they start shipping let’s say between the first 2 weeks of December…

          Now,to get one of those you have either live in China and be one of the lucky ones to get the phone due to limited stock/huge demand or buy it from resellers adding at least $100 over the retail price.

          Not fun my friend, not fun πŸ™

          • King
            November 14, 2015

            LOL. you break my heart and then stomp on it too Santa. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    • Roberto TomΓ‘s
      November 12, 2015

      voted you up. that led me down a path of research that enlightened the whole india/mediatek/ericsson thing for me.

      regarding 1. They could use a X10 (src http://www.themobileindian.com/news/16999_LeTV-Le-1s-smartphone-unveiled-with-MediaTek-Helio-X10-coming-to-India-later-this-year ) or Snapdragon 820 variant in India. The Qualcomm variant might be wildly upscale in India though… and this is a basic problem with the article here not being true.

      Actually, the requirement to find a solution for India means the 820 might be chosen because they also get the american market (how did the american market not end up with the same patent problem, one wonders? I guess that agreement Mediatek and QC signed included each’s home market), without getting too many, too wildly different variants. They could not do the X20 in india, I think, because it is 20nm and Mediatek’s india fab is 28nm.

      • balcobomber25
        November 12, 2015

        The patent holders are different for each country depending on network infrastructure. Ericsson pretty much built the Indian networks from the ground up.

        • MaxPower
          November 12, 2015

          and Qualcomm in the US

          • balcobomber25
            November 12, 2015

            Qualcomm and actually Google too thanks to the Motorola acquisition.

            • MaxPower
              November 12, 2015

              did they keep the patents before selling to Lenovo?
              Smartasses!

              speaking of Google I’m going to give a try to their Project FI this month.

            • balcobomber25
              November 12, 2015

              Yea of about 20,000 parents they gave Lenovo around 2,000 (just those directly associated with Moto phones). Google never actually wanted the Moto phone line, it was always about the patents.

            • King
              November 13, 2015

              Yup. Google kept the patents. The smarter part was, they thought losing ~10 billion was better than keeping Moto alive, where they had no experience. Google bought Moto for ~12 billion and sold ’em off for ~2 billion to Lenovo (hope my memory isn’t bad).

            • MaxPower
              November 13, 2015

              I think they know what they are doing. They are looking at the big picture:
              they are starting their MNVO in the US (I’m going to give it a try this month).
              Also they are investing a lot on fiber optics.

              So if you do 1+1 it’s getting clear that they want to become the big provider of wired and wireless.

              And don’t forget YouTube…
              sooner we will be watching TV through internet.
              No more cable or satellite

            • King
              November 14, 2015

              Yup, I agree. Sometimes it makes me wonder if Google and LeTV come together, they could take on Netflix. On second thoughts, naah! unless they start capturing the new markets. BTW, the government of India has okayed Google to connect a whopping 60% population (or so …. 1.25 billion’s 60%, you do the math) with Google powered balloons. They could do what Netflix does in US and LeTV in China.

            • MaxPower
              November 14, 2015

              Good stuff coming out for tech lovers like us.

  2. Joel Adames
    November 12, 2015

    could you elaborate on that incident Xiaomi beeing asked to not use mediatek SoCs, sounds interesting.

    • Muhammad Yasir
      November 12, 2015

      wow … u are new ?

    • balcobomber25
      November 12, 2015

      In a nutshell they weren’t asked they were ordered by the Indian courts to cease and desist. But Mediatek SoCs don’t have the necessary parents to operate on Indian networks. Which means its up to each individual company who uses those SoCs to negotiate with the patent holder (Ericsson in this Case). Qualcomm obtains the parents ahead of time. Xiaomi never did so its either pay Ericsson or stop selling MTK devices

      • MaxPower
        November 12, 2015

        paTents πŸ˜‰

      • King
        November 13, 2015

        Others phone makers are paying (I guess) so are able to release their MTK powered phones in India. Coolpad, Lenovo, Micromax, Lava, Meizu …Xiaomi please do something.

        • balcobomber25
          November 13, 2015

          At this point there is too much bloodshed (millions in legal fees and lost profit,) between Xiaomi and Ericsson I doubt we will ever see a resolution.

  3. Shashank
    November 12, 2015

    So you are saying that they are delaying for that processor which they can easily launch 2-3month ahead

    • balcobomber25
      November 12, 2015

      The X20 and SD820 will both launch around the same time. If they do go with X20 time won’t be a factor just price.

  4. Ulti
    November 12, 2015

    I’m glad I didn’t wait for the Mi5 lol. I had my Meizu MX4 for a while and whilst I loved the feel of it (never used a case and just had a carbon fibre replacement back cover), I really disliked Flyme. It just looks so ugly and unrefined compared to MIUI. Flyme, to me, is just a bit better than stock Android (which is the ugliest).

    I decided to stop using my MX4 (used it for 8 months) when I managed to get a second hand Mi Note in Black (it’s gorgeous!) for Β£200. The Mi Note is pretty big though and whilst it’s lovely in terms of design, it’s a pain for me to hold as it’s so slippery so I had to get a case for it, making it much more bulky than the MX4.

    Funnily enough though, whilst we’re talking about how the Apple A9 chip is still faster than all other chips in single core performance and then talks of the mighty 820 and X20 SoCs, I’m still using the “old” 801 and it manages to run everything fine without a single hiccup. Oddly enough my MX4 would sometimes feel slow in standard battery mode or whatever whereas I’ve had my Mi Note in standard performance mode since day 1 and never found the need to turn on performance mode. Not to mention the battery life on the Mi Note is amazing. On regular use with bluetooth turned off, I can get just about 2 days use out of it. With bluetooth on 24/7 for MiBand pairing unfortunately that’s not the case. One final note is that I was worried 1080p on a 5.7″ wouldn’t look good but the Mi Note has proved me wrong. It looks better than the MX4 and other budget China phones easily. The only thing that I can fault about the screen is that viewing angles aren’t brilliant.

    Anyway, I’ve gone off a tangent. My main point is damn you Xiaomi for taking so long to release the Mi5 but also thank you for making the Mi Note so awesome. I’ve had it for 2 months now and although the size is a love hate affair as I do love the big screen, the handling of it is a bit difficult sometimes. I also forgot to mention the audio quality from the Mi Note is amazing. I would say it matches my FiiO E10K DAC and I can’t wait to test out the Xiaomi Hybrids. Sorry for the wall of text!

    • balcobomber25
      November 13, 2015

      I am one of Xiaomi’s biggest fans and I love MiUI but Flyme is starting to win me over more and more each day. Especially since Flyme 5 was released. I find a lot less bugs in Flyme and it is a lot quicker and smoother than MiUI.

      • Ulti
        November 13, 2015

        I have the opposite opinion really. I started with a Mi3 and liked MIUI 5 but then I upgraded to the Mi4 and MIUI 6 came out at that time I believe and I fell in love with it. I’m not going to deny that it is similar to iOS but I would say it looks even better than iOS. They simply took the iOS design elements and improved it further. However I wanted to try a bigger screen so I upgraded to the MX4 but months in, I found it slower than my Mi4 for normal day things and I found it buggier.

        Aesthetically, I disliked the look of Flyme’s menus. I loved the pulsating glow of the home button though, especially as I like to put my phone on silent so it’s nice to be able to easily see when I get a notification. I really missed that when I went back to Xiaomi with their Mi Note. The tiny notification LED is easily missed, especially in the sun.

        I do love the feel of the MX4 though and the fact that I don’t have to use a case with it makes it really compact. I do like metal backs but they’re simply a bit too slippery. The glass back on the Mi Note is unfortunately too slippery. I’ve had instances where I left my Mi Note on the table and come back to see that it fell on the floor after it just slid off when I didn’t have a case. I’m tempted to just buy my own vinyl sheets and cover the back with it so I don’t have to use a case.

        Here’s what my MX4 home screen used to look like:
        http://i.imgur.com/eu8YPTD.jpg

        My Mi Note:
        http://i.imgur.com/20KRiVY.png

        I just love how minimalistic MIUI is, especially looking at the top bars.

        The quick toggles in MIUI are also beautiful:
        http://i.imgur.com/CqdhLya.png

        • balcobomber25
          November 13, 2015

          You can make any UI minimalistic looking, you could replicate that same look on Flyme, CM, Stock, Touchwhiz or anything else running Android. Flyme has those same quick toggles when you swipe down.

          • Ulti
            November 13, 2015

            That’s just the launcher. The default quick toggles in Flyme still don’t look as slick as MIUI and the main UI is horrible, especially the settings.

            Quick toggles in Flyme:
            http://www.androidheadlines.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Screenshot-2015-06-09-11.07.42.png

            Settings UI in Flyme:
            https://i.ytimg.com/vi/BWbU41hAcrE/maxresdefault.jpg

            And as I also mentioned, the top notification bar in Flyme is pretty ugly, it looks just like all the other Android ROMs.

            • balcobomber25
              November 13, 2015

              Have to agree to disagree on this one

            • Ulti
              November 13, 2015

              That’s fair enough. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder afterall. Some people hate iOS and love stock Android. I just prefer MIUI to Flyme and you prefer Flyme to MIUI, nothing more nothing less.

            • balcobomber25
              November 14, 2015

              It’s not that I prefer Flyme, I think they both look good I would say in my list MiUI is 1a, Flyme is 1B.

  5. iANDROID8.1
    November 13, 2015

    I think it’s the chinese variant

  6. Cpaun
    November 15, 2015

    There will be two versions for sure: one with mediatek and other with snapdragon.

  7. Rajeev
    November 22, 2015

    I’ve waited too long for this device, and if this is true, I will look elsewhere. I’ll feel bad though, having waited this much. I have used both MediaTek chips (6595 and 6753) and SnapDragon chips (800, and 801) and I very well know the difference between the two families.

    I will never use a phone with a MediaTek chipset, because:

    (a) I’m not a price conscious buyer (anymore)

    (b) I find SnapDragon based phones to have better performance on every parameter

    (c) Overheating doesn’t bother me, as long as there is no throttling (so SD810 aside)

    (c) I find SnapDragon phones (current gen) to have incredibly awesome GPS, and I very well remember my struggles with old MediaTek devices. I was told that the current gen MediaTek chips (6735, 6752, 6753 etc.) have AWESOME and PERFECT gps comparable to SnapDragons’ – couldn’t be further from the truth. The 6753 struggles with this too, often locking in excess of 30 seconds, when an SD8x chip under the exact same conditions can lock in 5 seconds or less (without data or network assist, device only lock).

    (d) The prime flagships (not the mid-range value-priced flagships) are always non MediaTek chips – usually a crazy exynos, or a top of the line SD chip, and now, the Kirin 950 waiting to join the party. This is for good reason.

    I don’t have a problem acknowledging that there are people with different tastes, different needs and different budgets, so my criteria is mine alone – but I do feel that the year-wise flagships for each brand deserves better than a “value-flagship” SoC with a “few minor quirks which can be overlooked”, like pathetic GPS or poor GPUs.

    Sorry, got a little ranty. I’ll now wait to see how Kirin 950 does for real, or just wait for the Exynos 8890 to brighten up my day. Really, really disheartened that this had to happen with such an anticipated flagship. πŸ™