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Helio P95 Boosts AI and Graphics

May 12, 2020

Author: Tom R. Halfhill

Just in time for recession shoppers wary of splurging on luxury goods, MediaTek is shipping an upgraded processor for mid-premium 4G (LTE) smartphones. The Helio P95 supersedes last year’s P90 by boosting AI throughput and graphics performance by 10% each—just enough to stay competitive with similar processors from Huawei and Qualcomm.

The Helio P95 debuted in the Oppo Reno3 Pro smartphone in late March. This Indian 4G phone runs Oppo’s Color OS7 (based on Android 10) and retails for 29,000 rupees (about $377). The launch timing was unfortunate, however, because the Covid-19 pandemic crippled some retailers. It also caused confusion because Oppo began shipping in China a new 5G phone by the same name but with completely different specifications.

We believe the P95 is the same silicon as the P90 but represents better yields for the best bins. Even if it’s operating at the same voltage, it will burn slightly more power in return for slightly higher performance—a disadvantage against the competition. It’s a modest upgrade that keeps MediaTek in the 4G derby while the focus moves to a new 5G product, the Dimensity 800.

In some ways, the Helio P95 suffers in comparison even with MediaTek’s other 4G products. Last year’s Helio G90, a game-oriented 4G smartphone chip, has newer and more-power-efficient CPUs. The P95’s main advantage over the G90 is an AI accelerator. More MediaTek customers building mid-premium 4G phones are using the G90, so the P95 is mainly for those who want the accelerator—and so far, the only example is Oppo.

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