MTK | Smartphone operating system

The first complete mobile OS user experience design project in the Chinese market


MediaTek Inc. (MTK) is a leading global IC design manufacturer that specializes in technical sectors such as wireless communications and digital multi-media. Its integrated chip systems include wireless communications, high-definition TV, optical storage, DVD and Blu-rayproducts, all having a leading position in their respective markets. Before iOS and Android occupied the mobile sector, the mobile platforms used by most Chinese cellphone manufacturers were provided by MTK. Founded in 1997, MTK hasbeen publicly traded in the Taiwan Provincial Stock Exchange under the '2454' symbol. MTK is headquartered in Taiwan, with sales and R&D teams in Mainland China, Singapore,  India,  the United States, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, the UnitedKingdom, Sweden and Dubai.


Before 2010, most cellphones in the Chinese market mainly used low-end platforms such as those from MTK. When there was no clear sign of the strong breakout of iOS and Android, many manufacturers were watching and waiting to see the development trends of smartphones and feature phones. As an old platform provider, MTK decided to take the two paths simultaneously. On one hand, MTK followed Android to develop smartphone chips and on the other hand, MTK independently developed smart feature phone platforms to help feature phone manufacturers create new-generation, cost-effective feature phones that offered smartphone experiences. With a rich background and comprehensive capabilities in the experience design of smartphone operating systems, TANG was invited to work with MTK to develop similar intelligent platforms.

A complete UX design solution for amobile OS

This is a set of 

operating systems

Targeting all mainstream screen sizes

Cool visual interface

Best usabilityUser experience design specifications

Apart from visual interfaces, the design scope included the architecture of the entire operating system, interaction design, and App design.

Full consideration of compatibility and user experience on all mainstream screen sizes.

Offering feature phone users the visual experience found of smartphones.

Ensuring far better usability than Android (at the time) in terms of functionality.

A set of interaction and visual specifications that ensure later applications meet design requirements.


Systems engineering

Creating a set of mobile OS plat formsis never as simple as the development of a mobile ROM. It is the development ofan operating system from scratch with comes with the necessary consideration that it may be transformed by different manufacturers like an Android system platform. Therefore, the entire design process is a large systems engineering project.

1. Analysis of trends and competitive products + research of social behavior

A comparison and analysis was made of competitive brands such as Apple, Samsung, LG and HTC in terms of user experience, AUI, usability and PUI. The global interaction and visual design trends on smartphones were gathered. Mean while, user research on social issues was conducted in 4 cities nation wide.

2. Concept design + evaluation

Two teams independently completed two sets of interaction and visual concept designs centered on several core modules such as idle, first page and main menu by using a concurrent design method.  Real user evaluation was carried out using a flash demo to integrate the design plans, and adjust and improve the design directions.

3. Draft of the UI specifications

Roughly 30% of the confirmed concepts were extracted to prepare a draft of the visual and interaction design specification, including overall positioning, visual styles, interface templates and controls. The specification can ensure unity of detailed designs for future third-partyapps.

4. Detailed design

Four groups of designers made detailed designs for 33 major apps and modules and cooperated with developers to ensure implementation of the designs met the design specification.

5. Usability testing

During the middle and late stages of the detailed design, the design plans were produced as interactive demos and realusers were recruited for usability testing to discover detailed issues and further improve the design. 

6. Final draft of UI specifications

Interactive and visual UI design specifications were summarized and finished based on the completed system platforms and are later provided to MTK’s partners to ensure the design quality of follow-up apps.

COSMOS UI: Be Simple, Be Graceful

This is a set of similar smartphone operating systems with user experience as the core design objective. Whether it be architecture, interaction, visual, or hardware etc., we hoped to far exceed the Android operating system which had an engineer culture at its core (then, in 2010).

         Time Flow

   Anytime, Anywhere        My Favorites  Design for Dual-SIM

To break the simple using/used  relationship between users and their phone, and enable users to better manage their digital life, we created the concept of 'time flow'. When using their phone in landscape, the users can organize basic daily information through the 'time flow', such as phone calls, photos, videos and files. The concept of time flow (2010) appeared earlier than other similar concepts in the design world.

Users often need to switch apps, but this common operation becomes difficult due to the limited screen size of mobile devices. We designed the new 'card system'. To fully achieve rapid opening of the card system, we defined a dedicated  'card' button on the device.

Emphasis is not given to absolute classification because users can't classify in an absolutely logical way. We help users classify in a simpler, quicker manner by carefully conceiving and designing the 'My Favorites' and 'Most Common' views.

A platform design includes various changes and dual-sim, dual standby is one of them. To create a dual-sim design that is easily to recognize and manage, we made repeated at tempts at design interms of operating processes, special scenarios and color definition.

Customer Feedback

TANG is second to none in terms of its overall user experience research and design capabilities in China. It can not only provide innovative designs, but is quite familiar with development and can effectively cooperate with our team to ensure the completion of products. This cooperation has thoroughly met our expectations.

Wu Di,MTK Feature Phone UE/UI manager

More Cases

Shanghai (HQ) BJ TP SZ

INNOSPACE+Building 2F, Zhengxue Road No.77, Yangpu District, Shanghai

SOHO2 3Q, NO.9, Guanghua Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing

4F, No. 30-2, East Beiping Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei

Room 100X, 3rd Building, Mic International Plaza, Shekou Street, Nanshan District, Shenzhen

Telphone +86-21-60746536

Fax +86-21-60746500