Recently we heard various reports of Qualcomm’s latest mobile chip overheating, which led to the expectation that Samsung was planning to use its own processor in the upcoming Galaxy S6. Qualcomm has refuted the heat problem, as did LG which is using the Snapdragon 810 in its new G Flex 2 phone. But heat or no heat, it doesn’t mean Samsung isn’t pushing forward with plans to use an Exynos processor in the Galaxy S6. In fact, Qualcomm appears to be expecting that to happen.
The company announced its quarterly earnings on Wednesday and I noticed this in the part about future expectations, emphasis mine:
We have lowered our outlook for the second half of fiscal 2015 in our semiconductor business, QCT, largely driven by the effects of:
— A shift in share among OEMs at the premium tier, which has reduced our near-term opportunity for sales of our integrated Snapdragon™ processors and has skewed our product mix towards more modem chipsets in this tier;
— Expectations that our Snapdragon 810 processor will not be in the upcoming design cycle of a large customer’s flagship device; and
— Heightened competition in China.
A “large customer’s flagship device” could mean any number of phones or tablets but my money is on the Galaxy S6. There are other large customers of [company]Qualcomm[/company], but Samsung is the top device maker that uses Qualcomm chips. So it’s not unreasonable to think that the Galaxy S6 — or possibly the next Galaxy Note or Note Edge — will be Exynos powered.
Qualcomm has long had the advantage of superior LTE modem integration with its Snapdragon chips, but Samsung has been engineering its own product as of last year. Samsung’s chips may not support the highest possible speeds a network can provide by comparison, but they’re certainly capable of fast mobile broadband throughput.
Qualcomm’s chips are capable of pretty impressive theoretical speeds of 450 Mbps, while Samsung is still at an early point in the LTE device spec, maxing out at 150 Mbps. Bear in mind however that most carrier networks aren’t yet at the point they could support the full force of Qualcomm’s tech, so in most cases, you probably won’t notice much difference between a Samsung or Qualcomm chip. Regardless, Samsung is rumored to have caught up when it comes to speed so this could be a moot point.
Perhaps Samsung follows the same approach it always has with a Galaxy phone by creating two versions of the handset, one with silicon from Qualcomm and one with in-house chips. But it looks like Qualcomm isn’t counting on that.