MediaTek is building a new premium chip for the Android tablet renaissance that probably isn’t coming

Android tablets have a mixed history, and while Samsung keeps up the fight in the premium space, the most successful tablets are much less expensive things like Amazon’s Kindle Fires. In the face of the iPad, the only way Android tablets can really compete is with price. So it’s a little curious that MediaTek would be releasing a new chipset ostensibly targeting something higher than the bottom-barrel tablet segment.

The new Kompanio 1300T is TSMC-built (6nm), with an eight-core configuration mixing the recent Coretex A78s and A55s, paired with a slightly older ARM Mali G77 MC9 GPU. It also supports 5G, but sub-6 only — that likely rules out the most recent M80 modem, so it’s probably using something like the M70. The modem also does 2CC CA and supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2. It also has MediaTek’s APU for enhanced performance in AI-specific workloads.

When it comes to what sort of other hardware the chipset works with, the Kompanio 1300T supports up to 2.5K displays (read: probably around 2560×1440) at up to 120Hz, including support for HDR10_ and MediaTek’s proprietary MiraVision. It can talk to up to 108MP cameras, handle 4K 60 video encode and decode (including 4K staggered HDR), and does the usual low-power voice recognition stuff for our contemporary smart digital assistants, plus it can use MediaTek’s HyperEngine 3 gaming optimizations for ostensibly improved game performance.

It doesn’t sound like the Kompanio 1300T is set to compete with Qualcomm’s highest-end chipsets, but it’s a lot more than the usual as-cheap-as-humanly-possible Android tablet fare, and I’m a little curious precisely what it’s targeting. Prior Kompanios ended up in things like Chromebooks, and the company recently showed off a Kompanio chip in a Chromebook working with an Nvidia GeForce RTX GPU, but, for whatever reason, MediaTek is quite specific here that this new chip is intended for tablets.

Apparently, we won’t have long to wait and see which tablets will get it. MediaTek says we’ll hear hardware announcements in the third quarter of 2021 — in other words, in just the next couple of months. And if it is good, the new chip could make a dent in the lack of chipset competition in Android devices — not that the mid-range-to-premium Android tablet market segment is particularly large.

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