MediaTek Helio G96: One step forward, Two steps back

MediaTek is a mainstay in the Midrange segment and they alway put out an upper midrange SoC every year. Two years ago it was the Helio G90T, last year it was the G95, this year it is the MediaTek Helio G96.

This practice of releasing an upper midrange SoC started with the Helio G90T. That SoC was released in 2019, and helped to reestablish MediaTek as a strong player in the SoC market. The G90T made it’s debut with the Redmi Note 8 Pro and went on to feature in phones from Realme, Tecno and Infinix.

Its successors on the other hand, have not made that much of an impression. With the G95, MediaTek went with a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. With the MediaTek Helio G96, it is a case of one step forward and two steps back as you shall soon see.


MediaTeK Helio G96


CPU/GPU/performance

The Helio G96 is an octa (8) core SoC with two Cortex A76 cores (2.05GHz) and six Cortex A55 cores (2.0GHz). This is exactly the same configuration that is found in the G90T and G95.

The GPU on the Helio G96 however was downgraded from the Mali G76 MC4 on the G90T and G95 to a Mali G57 MC2. What this means is that the older G90T and G95 will handle games and other graphic apps better than the newer G96. This is a no no for me.

This shows up in benchmarks as the Helio G96 struggles to beat its predecessors. On GeekBench, the G96 scores 497 against 522 by G95 and 495 by the G90T. On Antutu benchmarks, the G96 also struggles, scoring 298k against 303k by the G95 and 280k by the G90T.


Read: LPDDR RAM and eMMC/UFS memory explained


Memory

The G96 retains the LPDDR4x RAM of its predecessors and supports eMMC 5.1 and UFS 2.2. Again, just like the G90T and the G95.


Camera

The G96 uses the standard MediaTek Triple (3x) ISP paired with a neural processing unit. This is the only place where the G96 justifies its position as a successor to the G90T and G95. It can support a 108MP single camera module. The older two SoCs can only support up to 64MP.

Apart from that, every other thing stays the same with the dual 16+16MP support and 4K video recording and playback.


Display

The display resolution remains the same as supported by the older two SoCs. That is to say that the G96 supports a max screen resolution of 2520x1080p (FHD+).


Connectivity

The G96 also gets a boost in network connectivity from Cat.12 to Cat.13. The older two are stuck at Cat.12.


Read: LTE cat for smartphone modems explained


Conclusion

The only redeeming factor of the G96 is the new ISP that can handle 108MP compared to the 64MP on the older SoCs. The improvement in network capability is only minor. It may be a good option for people looking to get 108MP on a budget but, MediaTek’s image processing can be dodgy at times and the smartphone maker would need to have a really good camera software.

Other than that, the downgrade in GPU was not necessary at all and handicaps the SoC in terms of gaming and using graphic demanding apps.

The downgrade in processing power and no new additions to the SoC overall would is a bad move. I mean, other than a new ISP which requires a lot of specifics to work, this is not an SOC worth upgrading to. I am a fan of MediaTek but this is so not it.


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