T-Mobile’s LG Velvet has a different processor inside, and it’s an interesting choice

We weren’t huge fans of the LG Velvet, the design-first, specs-second flagship smartphone the company released this summer. The sleek phone felt stuttery in our review. But what if I told you the T-Mobile variant comes with a different chip?

Today, T-Mobile announced it’s brought an LG Velvet to the United States with a MediaTek Dimensity 1000C processor inside, instead of the mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 and 765G it usually employs. It’s one of the first times in recent memory we’ve seen a MediaTek chip in a US flagship phone, so it’s a significant milestone for a company that generally plays second-fiddle to Qualcomm, if nothing else.

The question is whether T-Mobile is now giving you a faster chip than the existing LG Velvet can get you, and that’s not clear yet. At first glance, it might like you’re getting a entire tier higher chip in the exact same phone, because (at least in anecdotal benchmarks) MediaTek’s Dimensity 1000 is no slouch: AnTuTu rated the company’s other Dimensity 1000+ and 1000L variants up near Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 865, 855 and 855+ chips, as well as Huawei’s Kirin 980, 985 and 990.

But upon close examination, it appears that T-Mobile and MediaTek are trying to trick us with branding, because the actual specs of this “Dimensity 1000C” hew much closer to MediaTek’s cheaper Dimensity 800 instead. They both have octa-core CPUs and ARM Mali graphics, but where a Dimensity 1000 tops out at 2.6GHz and comes with nine Mali-G77 GPU cores, the 1000C tops out at 2GHz with only five Mali-G57 GPU cores. (The Dimensity 800 is 2GHz but with four GPU cores; the Dimensity 820 is 2.6GHz with five.)

It’s also maybe a little telling that T-Mobile’s product page currently states the phone comes with a Dimensity 800, though a spokesperson tells us that will be corrected soon. One thing it does add from the Dimensity 1000 series, though: AV1 hardware decoding, for the data saving video streams that Netflix, YouTube, and others are rolling out.

Still, the Dimensity 1000C could still be competitive with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G, and it won’t cost you more money: T-Mobile plans to sell it for $588 off-contract, similar to the $599 you’ll pay for the other model at AT&T, and less than the $699 it costs for a Verizon model that supports its millimeter-wave 5G network.

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