Shipments of smartphone-use application processors (AP) to China, including those for handset exports, will stay flat sequentially in the first quarter of 2021, according to Digitimes Research. Shipments compared to a year earlier will register a robust 57% increase.
Huawei's spun-off sub-brand Honor has started building up chip inventories, while other Chinese brands continue to step up their pace of orders aiming to maintain their inventories at high levels, Digitimes Research has found. Tight capacity at 8- and 12-inch foundries is one of the factors driving brand smartphone companies to keenly build up inventories.
About 211.6 million smartphone APs were shipped to Chinese brand vendors in the fourth quarter of 2020, rising 9.9% on quarter and 7.7% on year, according to Digitimes Research's figures. Shipments were stronger-than-expected during the quarter when brands including Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo were seeking to expand their market share domestically and internationally at the expense of Huawei.
MediaTek was the top vendor with a 42.5% share in China's smartphone AP market in the fourth quarter of 2020, followed by Qualcomm with 41.5% and HiSilicon with 9.5%. MediaTek is expected to remain the market leader in the first quarter of 2021, with Qualcomm close on the heels and HiSilicon farther behind.
Smartphone APs built with 12nm process grew as a proportion of China's total smartphone AP shipments to 38.4% in the fourth quarter of 2020. Smartphone APs made on the 6/7/8nm nodes as a proportion of total shipments will outpace those with 12nm process in the first quarter.