The reason your cheap Android is (almost) good enough? It has a Broadcom CPU inside
Broadcom isn’t exactly the first company that comes to mind when you think about smartphone processor makers, or those producing SoCs (Systems-on-a-Chip) for mobile devices. Qualcomm, Nvidia, TI are all more well known players in the field.
However, Broadcom has recently stepped into this game, and so far has had encouraging (yet unpublicized) results.
Broadcom is probably best known for its Wi-Fi connectivity chips, alongside its GPS and Bluetooth solutions. In those markets, it has around 70% market share. Evidently, that wasn’t enough for the company, with smartphone processors being its newest venture.
Broadcom CEO Scott McGregor
Did you know that a third of all smartphones currently being sold by Samsung have a Broadcom processor or baseband chip? (Quick note: that’s a third of all the shipped units, not a third of the models). That is the case according to a recent JP Morgan Chase report on the matter.
The Samsung Galaxy Y line, the Galaxy Mini, and the Galaxy Ace, for example, have Broadcom CPUs inside. Every quarter, Samsung smartphones with Broadcom processors are being sold in 12-13 million units, with the numbers sure to rise in the near future (as the entire smartphone market is booming).
Some of the smartphones currently being sold for around $150 unsubsidized have specs that just two years ago would have made them flagship offerings – 1 GHz processors are now common in the low-to-midrange. As such, those cheap Android smartphones are getting a lot better – fast. And in part thanks to Broadcom and its push into the low-end.
The company sells SoCs that, for example, come with a 1 GHz single-core processor, baseband, and other communications chips and power management architecture – all for $20-22.
Broadcom does plan to cover the entire market in the future, but recognizes that it has some catching up to do at the higher price points (for higher performing chips).
According to Broadcom, Android is now the main target of chip makers, but other OSes do have some potential, considering the Microsoft Tax that a lot of Android phone makers need to pay.
So what will happen two years from now? You’ll probably be able to get a quad-core smartphone for around $100, unsubsidized. That’s the insane pace at which this industry moves, don’t be surprised.