Our smartphones have become a very fundamental part of our daily lives. Going beyond a source of entertainment, they now help us fulfil a lot of daily essential tasks. This is made possible by what lies at its heart – a chipset. Also known as a System on Chip (SoC), a smartphone chipset is the brains of your phone and much more. Here’s what it exactly does.

What is an SoC?

As the name indicates, the SoC is a complete system on a single piece of hardware. Every action you take on your phone is processed by the SoC – whether you click a picture, play a game, close an app, download an episode and more.

It has several components like:

  • Central Processing Unit (CPU) - takes care of the operating system like Android or iOS and its tasks.
  • Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) - Handles the visualisation of apps, games and more. Image Processing Unit
  • (ISP) - Converts image information to data from your camera.
  • Modems – Handles wireless signals for your phone.

There are other components too that form the complete system for a smartphone – some phones come with a Neural Unit to handle AI functions. However, these basics ones are available on all chipsets and make it capable of what it does.

The popular examples

Now that you know what an SoC is and what it does, it’s time to understand who makes it. When buying or researching a smartphone, you must have come across terms like Snapdragon, Mediatek and more. These are the common chipset families and the brands that manufacture them.

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon – Subdivided into 400, 600 and 800 series for budget, mid-range and flagship phones respectively.
  • Huawei Kirin – Made for Huawei’s range of smartphones.
  • Apple A Series – Custom designed by Apple for maximum performance.

  • Mediatek Helio & Dimensity – Used by a lot of popular phone brands.
  • Samsung Exynos - Samsung’s range of phones use these chipsets.

Now that you know which chipsets to look for, keep this in mind when looking for your next phone.

Image Courtesy': Qualcomm, Apple, Canva

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