Hey there! Samsung or Apple smartphones too expensive? Considering getting one of those cheap Chinese smartphones? You may be wondering why they’re so cheap, right? Of course you do. The main reason why those devices are so cheap is that they run on MediaTek SoCs (System on a Chip), which are usually a bundle of a CPU, and a GPU, and these SoCs are usually sold at ridiculously cheap prices, even going as low as 10 USD. If you don’t believe what I’ve just said, check out the specifications for the device you’re considering, it’s probably running a MediaTek chip.
As the developer community knows, MediaTek is not that nice to developers. They keep their Android sources closed (for some reason), and only release it to OEMs if they pay up. Even so, the OEMs are not allowed to release any form of source in any way, and some are even instructed to tell their customers that they do not have the sources. This means that you will not get any custom ROMs on your device, and even if you do get them, they’re probably just a version of the stock ROM modded, or ported ROMs from other devices. Not just that though, many devices get either no, or extremely late bug fixes. My MTK6592 device would be a great example, as it has multiple bugs with the speaker, touchscreen, camera, and fingerprint sensor, all of which have yet to be fixed, despite calls from the community to the OEM. If MediaTek sources were released though, I would have expected not just CyanogenMod 12, but probably also all those problems fixed.
Many around the world possess MediaTek devices (just the other day someone was using a Note 3 clone which was obviously a MediaTek device), and it’s not just the small Chinese OEMs, but even OEMs like HTC have already begun using MediaTek SoCs, so it’s not hard to find one that you’re satisfied with. There are MediaTek devices with ridiculously huge battery capacities, large screens, odd features, and even TV boxes have begun running on MediaTek SoCs. The MINIX NEO X8-H Plus is an excellent example of MediaTekking (if that’s a word) done right. I mean, an all-in-one entertainment system, right at your fingertips for a low price is hard to resist. But then again, MediaTek devices suffer fragmentation too. If we make a list of OEMs selling devices that mainly run MediaTek SoCs, we can easily see that fragmentation is definitely a problem:
And the list goes on and on. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing that there are so many companies selling MediaTek devices though. With so many people now using MediaTek devices in Asia, and other parts of the world, the community of people working with MediaTek devices will increase, and may probe major changes to how OEMs like Samsung and Apple sell their devices. Samsung, which, I may mention, is dropping out of the game, with many people who cannot afford their devices turning to cheaper clones instead, most of which work like the real deal, but maybe just a bit less (fake IR blasters, sensors, or sometimes a complete lack of quality).
If you don’t like reading (or if you coincidentally scrolled down), here’s a tl;dr for you:
- Devices are extremely cheap and affordable
- Community is vastly expanding
- Many to choose from
- No custom ROM support (damn you, MediaTek!)
- Bug fixes take extremely long times to deploy
- You’ll really look like a cheapo if you’re found with a clone device that ain’t 1:1, really.
With that said, will you still take the consideration and get a MediaTek device? I leave the judgement to you.
See you next time!