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New Mediatek chip promises feature-packed phones for less

Though designed for mid-range handsets, the Mediatek MT6595 flaunts eight CPU cores, 4G LTE, plus many more mobile bells and whistles.

Mediatek MT6595
Mediatek's new MT6595 promises lots of mobile bang for the buck.

Mobile chip maker Mediatek believes buying a great smartphone shouldn't have to break the bank. According to the company, its new, sophisticated, yet affordable MT6595 solution provides a full eight cores of computing power at a fraction of the price. Plus Mediatek says this hardware has the brains to operate its cores very efficiently, which not only saves money but battery life as well.

To accomplish these lofty claims, Mediatek's fresh slice of phone silicon is crafted around four ARM Cortex-A17 processors working in unison with another four CPUs using older Cortex-A7 architecture. Apparently, though, this chip's secret weapon isn't just a ton of CPU cores tackling operations at once. The real beauty, says Mediatek, is the MT65695's ability to fire up each of its cores one by one to weigh in on any given task.

So if you command your phone to play a music track while it's sitting in your pocket (with the screen off) then just one core jumps into action. More intensive activities such as HD video or gaming require the extra might of two, three, or even all four cores. The upside is you get all the power you need but only when you need it. As a result the battery should take less of a hit, and less often.

Mediatek, however, hasn't spelled out exactly how much less its computing solution will cost compared to the competition. It did say that it expects phones using MT6595 hardware to run in the $99 to $199 range (subsidized). And thanks to robust 4G LTE support, MT65695-equipped handsets will make a perfect match for high-speed data access broadcast by American cellular carriers.

US consumers will no doubt appreciate the chipset's NFC networking and Bluetooth LE (4.0) radio, not to mention 4K Ultra HD video capture and playback. Phone makers, though, will have the final say about what fancy features eventually end up under the hood of their handsets.

It's also unclear just how effective all this core manipulation will be or whether Mediatek's vaunted mobile electronics can stand toe-to-toe against chips from Samsung and Qualcomm. We'll have a little wait to find out, too, since Mediatek will officially launch the MT6595 in quarter two of this year, but expects we won't see devices hit store shelves until the third quarter or even early 2015.