The Galaxy S4 will be introduced to the world in just over two weeks, and just like last year, we still don’t have a clear idea of what Samsung is cooking up. But, as the New York Samsung Unpacked event approaches, more and more details are bound to leak.
The latest snippet of info comes from a Taiwan-based analyst of the JPMorgan brokerage firm. In a note to clients concerning TSMC (the chip foundry that manufactures Qualcomm’s chipsets), Rick Hsu says that the he expects Samsung to offer at least two distinct versions of the Galaxy S4. One version will be equipped with the Samsung-made Exynos 5 Octa processor and will be made available in the European markets. The other version, bound for North America, will feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor.
Bear in mind that the investors note, quoted by the Taipei Times, does not mention the sources on which JPMorgan bases its predictions. In order words, the note is an expectation, rather than a statement based on hard facts. Still, JPMorgan is a very reputable firm, so I do believe that their analysis was fundamentally sound.
Samsung adopted the multiple versions strategy for last year’s Samsung Galaxy S3, so it’s very possible for the Korean manufacturer to continue on the same path.
However, there are a few issues here. First, several previous reports have indicated that Samsung has given up on its plans to use the Exynos 5 Octa on the Galaxy S4, due to technical difficulties. The latest has been supplied by Sam Mobile just this weekend.
Moreover, why would Samsung choose to have a different version in Europe? LTE is expected to boom in Europe in 2013, with carrier rollouts in most countries on the continent. That means Samsung needs to offer LTE for the European versions of the Galaxy S4, to capitalize on the growth of the new standard. But this year, Samsung doesn’t need a Qualcomm SoC to offer LTE; the living proof is the Galaxy Note 2, which has LTE and an Exynos system on a chip.
I believe therefore that the existence of the two versions is not due to the LTE compatibility issues, like it happened last year. More likely, Samsung is having yield issues with the Exynos 5 Octa, and is simply not capable of making enough chips to satiate the demand (remember that this phone is supposedly expected to sell 100 million units). So, the Koreans signed up their competitor Qualcomm to alleviate the load. But that's just my theory.
We’ll likely learn more in the following days, or, worst case, on March 14. Stay tuned.