With the proportion of 4G devices in China's smartphone shipments having already surpassed 90% in first-half 2015, application processor (AP) suppliers have taken different strategies for their carrier aggregation (CA) solutions for the 4G network, according to Digitimes Research.
Qualcomm is the most aggressive player on the development of high-end 4G technology and is planning to release Cat.10-based solutions in 2015. China-based Hisilicon is eager to follow suit. MediaTek is mainly focusing on the Cat.6 segment, while China-based Spreadtrum is pushing Cat.4 products.
Lacking supporting infrastructure, mid-range to entry-level Cat.6-based APs are expected to be the mainstream products of the China market prior to 2017, Digitimes Research expects.
For 4G end devices, their major difference from 3G products is the transmission speed. In addition to improved hardware performance that helps devices leverage the increased networking speed, the availability of content is also a key factor that will determine demand in the 4G market. Without sufficient content, consumers will be reluctant to upgrade their devices.
Currently in China, most consumers purchase 4G products because of telecom carriers' subsidies or the devices' specifications and designs. Only a small number of consumers have chosen the upgrade because of the faster transmission speed and content.
Most telecom carriers are looking to promote video streaming services leveraging the high speed of the 4G network, but consumers would still rather use Wi-Fi or fixed networks for watching video because of concerns over 4G data fees.