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MediaTek beat out Apple and Qualcomm to finish 2023 as the top smartphone chip vendor

The big picture: MediaTek finished 2023 as the world’s leading smartphone processor vendor in terms of shipping volume, beating out industry heavyweights like Apple and Qualcomm for the top spot. According to the latest data from market analyst firm Canalys, a total of 117 million smartphones were shipped in Q4 that were powered by a MediaTek processor. That’s an increase of 21 percent year over year, but still not the biggest yearly gain on the list.

Apple finished second with 78 million smartphone shipments, up eight percent compared to the same period a year earlier. Qualcomm placed third with 69 million chip shipments, an increase of just one percent versus Q4 2022.

Unisoc, a Chinese fabless semiconductor company based out of Shanghai, earned fourth place honors with 27 million shipments – an increase of 24 percent year over year. Samsung came in fifth place with 13 million units shipped, a huge dip of 48 percent compared to the year-ago period. HiSilicon, another Chinese fabless specialist, was sixth with seven million units shipped – a colossal 5,121 percent increase. Google rounded out the list in last place with three million SoCs shipped in Q4.

It’s a bit of a different story when looking at shipment revenue. In this category, Apple led with $87 billion – up 20 percent year over year. Qualcomm came in second with $30 billion, which was down two percent compared to a year earlier. MediaTek finished in third with $23 billion in revenue, an increase of 22 percent versus the same period a year ago.

Revenue falls off a bit after that, with HiSilicon capturing fourth place with $7 billion (but up 24,471 percent year over year). Samsung took the hardest hit in terms of revenue, with a 44 percent drop down to just $5 billion in the quarter.

Samsung’s woes aren’t all that surprising when you consider its Exynos chipset. With the new Galaxy S24 and S24+, for example, most versions ship with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 (Exynos is only used in certain markets), and the high-end S24 Ultra gets the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 in all markets.

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