Last year Qualcomm got behind everyone else in dual core chips and not only in time to market, but also in performance. The dual core 1.2 Ghz S3 chip could easily be surpassed by a Cortex A9 based Exynos at the same frequency of 1.2 Ghz/core. That’s because the custom Scorpion architecture was more of a competitor to Cortex A8, and when the more powerful and more efficient Cortex A9 arrived, Qualcomm kept the same architecture and only increased the clock frequency. This is why even dual core 1.5 Ghz S3 processors can barely match up to the dual core 1.2 Ghz Exynos or OMAP 4430/4460.
The good news is that I’m expecting the chips based on the Krait architecture to be one of the most competitive on the market next year. It should be able to compete and a dual core 1.5 Ghz S4 chip could even win in some scenarios over chips such as the quad core Tegra 3, dual core 1.8 ghz OMAP 4470, dual core 1.5 Ghz Exynos 4212.
The GPU will continue to be on the old Adreno 2xx architecture for now, and not the 3xx one, so don’t expect it to beat everyone else in graphics performance, too, but the graphics performance in its Adreno 225 should be about twice as fast the latest dual core 1.5 Ghz S3 chip.
Another good news is that even though it wasn’t the main platform for Android 4.0, Qualcomm has already started making Android 4.0 as optimized as possible for S4. Then they will send the optimizations to Google to incorporate it in an official Android 4.xx version, so all manufacturers planning on using the Qualcomm S4 in their devices can start implementing it. We should see some of these devices being announced at CES or MWC.