MediaTek Believes Kenya Needs Many Affordable 5G Phones for 5G to Grow, But it Has a Plan


Chip-maker MediaTek has grown substantially.

A few years ago, the silicon was associated with low-performing phones and other home entertainment devices, but for the most part, the argument leaned on misinformation.

MediaTek, which is based in Taiwan, has superior chipsets, and they power hundreds of millions of phones, among other devices, in the world right now.

Heck, MediaTek’s market share recorded its highest value at 43 percent for the global smartphone system-on-a-chip space, effectively surpassing Qualcomm that recorded 24 percent market share. This was for Q2, 2021.  

All these numbers are useful because it is key that people, especially smartphone purchasers, are aware of the capabilities of their smartphone chipsets.

We sat down, albeit on an online platform, with MediaTek’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Middle East and Africa, Rami Osman.

He shed light into the MTK’s chip naming schemes, how the chips are supplemented with superior features without making them expensive, how the market has responded to its marketing approach, and what the future holds for 5G, mainly in regard to countries such as Kenya that are still at behind the competition as far as 5G deployment is concerned.

MediaTek Chip Classification

First things first: MediaTek’s flagship chipsets are named Dimensity – and all of them have 5G radios. The top-of-the-line Dimensity silicon is the incoming 4nm 2000, which will reportedly be made by Samsung.

However, the in-the-market Dimensity chips are plenty, starting with the 6 nm 1200 all the way to 800.

The flagship 1200, alongside the 1100 are powerful chips, with features such as Wi-Fi 6, 5G + 5 dual SIM, Bluetooth 5.2 and 4K/60fpd video recording.

There is no OEM in Kenya that sells devices powered by Dimensity 1200 or 1100, although the OPPO Reno6 Pro 5G packs the 1200: Kenya only gets the vanilla Reno6, which has the midrange Dimensity 800.

Midrange Dimensity chips include the aforementioned 800 (7 nm), as well as 820 (7nm) and 900/920 (6nm).

There is a lower Dimensity 700 that was announced back in 2020, and they sit below the 800 series in terms of raw capabilities.

A step lower are the Helio chipsets. These do not have 5G; all of them max out at 4G.

Looking at the Kenya context, the Helio chips are insanely popular. They power the majority of Kenya’s popular mid-range phones, including the Camon series by TECNO, among others.

The MediaTek Helio G series is one of the line’s members. The G standards for Gaming and the chips are made to support gaming and overall smartphone performance on a budget.

The Helio G chips are complemented by MediaTek’s HyperEngine technology, which generally allows smooth gaming performance – at a budget.

Examples are plenty, including the G96, G90/G90T/G95, and G80.

The Helio P series was launched back in 2016 and is more of an entry-level chipset. It first started with the P10.

However, the most capable members of the P family are the P90 and P95. The difference between the two is that the P95, just like the G series, is game-focused with the HyperEngine feature.

Down the line are low-end processors, which include the P22/G25, Helio A25, A22, and A20. These are the chipsets powering the likes of the Redmi 9A and the Nokia G20.

That makes sense, right?

Safaricom, 5G, and MediaTek

Now, we wanted to know what MediaTek has been working towards in the Kenyan market, especially on the 5G front.

Mr. Rami says that from the technology perspective, the chip-maker is working with Safaricom. This is to ensure that MTK chips, especially the ones supporting 5G (Dimensity as the case of the OPPO Reno6 5G) are working perfectly with the carrier’s network.

“We do not want to bring devices to the Kenyan market that are not optimized with the largest operator. We are also looking forward that the performance of the devices during the testing period is good,” says Rami Osman.

Rami adds that MTK has been working with Safaricom for a long time.

As stated earlier, 5G is still in its infancy because Safaricom is still deploying test sites in select parts of the country, including Kisii and Amboseli.

MediaTek looks forward to their devices working in two categories: mobile and fixed broadband.

Mobile entails basic smartphones from manufacturers such as Nokia, Xiaomi and Samsung, name them. The devices will most likely use the MTK Dimensity chipsets, which as we said, are all 5G-capable.

MediaTek also wants the Kenyan government (by availing more spectrum), as well as Safaricom, to push for the 5G fixed broadband availability.

Still, there are other issues:

The performance of mobile broadband is not up to par, so we hope that with the availability of more spectrum from the government, the operators in Kenya will be able to give better performance and more data – Rami Osman.

Rami further adds that one of the reasons that mobile broadband is not a replacement for fixed broadband is capacity. With 5G, for instance, the network is more generous and can accommodate many users, and more data.

It would also mean that packages will be bigger. This is also one thing that Safaricom is working on because when 5G is fully deployed in 2022, albeit in select areas, it will revise package capacity and prices for customers.

We don’t know yet what will be the ideal packages and the right pricing – Rami

The commercial side of this development is solely dependent on when more 5G devices will arrive in Kenya.

MediaTek, of course, is working with more partners, including TECNO to bring affordable 5G devices to the country.

At the moment, very few phones are equipped with 5G, and coverage is yet to gain traction for the technology to present any commercial value.

In the meantime, the public will have to wait until 2022 before seeing any development as far as 5G is concerned.