Rumor: Galaxy S4 to be powered by Qualcomm chip, no Exynos version. But is that possible?

by: Bogdan PetrovanFebruary 20, 2013


Still not confused by all the conflicting Samsung Galaxy S4 rumors? You surely will be, as the supposed March 14 launch draws near. The latest batch of fodder for the rumor mill originates from a Korean site that claims the Galaxy S4 will be powered by a Qualcomm chip, instead of Samsung’s in-house Exynos chip.

Some background – traditionally, Samsung equipped phones in the Galaxy S line with its own Exynos processors. However, in certain markets the Korean giant released variants powered by chips from rivals Texas Instruments and Qualcomm. Last year, for instance, the North American and Japanese Galaxy S3 models were powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chips, while versions sold in non-LTE markets came with the quad-core Exynos 4412 processor.

If a report from the Korean site Digital Times is accurate, 2013 will be the first year when Samsung will not release an Exynos-powered Galaxy S. Why is that? According to DT, Samsung was forced to scrap the plans of using an Exynos 5 Octa chip in the Galaxy S4 due to issues with excessive heat generation and power consumption. Essentially, Samsung’s engineers weren’t able to tame the powerful octo-core processor enough to make it usable in a consumer device.

Is this rumor realistic?

Very importantly, Digital Times says Samsung will release the Galaxy S4 in a single version for all markets, LTE and non-LTE. Made possible by the integrated LTE modems on Snapdragon chips, such a strategy would make sense from a logistic and marketing point of view.

The Korean site does not cite its sources, and even if it did, this report shouldn’t be treated as more than a rumor, at least for now. However, there are some clues that indicate there is at least one version of the Galaxy S4 in the pipeline that is powered by Qualcomm silicon.

On the flip side, I find it hard to believe that Samsung would not use its own chip for its highest profile product, one that is expected to sell a record-smashing 100 million units. Moreover, it has been rumored that Apple (Samsung’s main silicon client) is taking its business to TSMC. Losing both Apple and the Galaxy S4 would be a major blow for Samsung’s fledgling processor business. But this is speculation on my side, especially since any change in the relationship with Apple would be negotiated months or even years in advance.

Finally, if the Exynos 5 Octa is not yet ready for primetime, why not use an Exynos 5 Dual chip? Is Qualcomm so far ahead of the game with its Snapdragon 600 processor?

It’s hard to offer a clear answer for now, but we’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

  • Ranjith Thiru

    Then it has to compete with HTC One, no other way :)

  • MasterMuffin

    How about snappy 800?

  • yahyoh


    Joke of the year #fail

  • ryallen

    If they can’t use the 5, they better use the 800 instead of the 600 because… samsung doesn’t wanna be on the same level as HTC is right now with the One, which, as you know, uses the 600. Samsung wants to be better. They want the spec difference to jump out at consumers like you and me who go to websites like this.

    • It would be kinda funny if they did use 600 :)

      • Bone

        In what way?

        • Because then they would be on par with each other. Geeks like us would actually look at other thing instead of sheer horsepower (CPU, GPU and RAM).

    • yahyoh

      meh they will not use snapdragon on their flagship -_-

    • Monji

      Average user now only look at the name and if the cpu is quad core they won’t even care if it’s the S4 pro or the 600. I know it’s very sad but most of the users really fall for marketing and are uninformed. I prefer a perfectly stable phone over a poorly optimized phone. Let’s wait for the 800 to mature.

    • ickyboo

      Snapdragon 800 isn’t due to market til Q3/Q4 so there’s no way it would be ready in time for the SGS4 which I would imagine they are already making to get ready for late May launch.

  • CyBrix_21

    It’s ok… As long as they will use the Snapdragon 800…

    But I think they should also make their own version, which a processor that most likely compete with the 800…

    • I think the 800 is not yet for market by the time of launch…

      • Evan Wickes

        i agree. i read somewhere that the 800 was going to be released in Q3 2013. if this is true, they need to use the 600 series. that means they will compete against LG, HTC, & probably Motorola (X-Phone) at a processor level. honestly the general public thinks very highly of the S3 so people will look at the S4 first. if it does what they expect & more, they wont look at anything else. also touchwiz is supposed to have non-touch gestures which will help to set it apart from the market at a software level, even tho it has the same processor. it still has advantages going for it plus it can ride awhile just on its name.

        • CyBrix_21

          Ok… Still it is good… But they must overclocked it to 1.9 GHz as possible…

  • hassan

    i think samsung won’t use snapdragon it will use its own exynos 5 octa processer lolz

    • Abdullah Qaraeen

      yes for the international one, but for US they will use S600 or maybe S800…

      • hassan

        yes it may be possible like previous gen galaxy s series that sam use snapdaragon s4 in us only

      • builderbobtheX2nd

        i hope so dude…if they use snapdragon @ internation then id be slightly dissapointed

  • Roberto Tomás

    if it is a snapdragon and is a single version in all markets, then it probably will not be the snapdragon 600. The 800 is more likely, because if would not only compete on cpu to the Exynos 5 Octa, but also on gpu.
    but digitimes is just wrong — I mean assuming there is a snapdragon version at all, it will not be the only version of the S IV. It will be the NA version.

    • MasterMuffin

      I said it first, then ryallen or cybrix and then you. Welcome to the club :)

  • Guest

    Average user now only look at the name and if the cpu is quad core they won’t even care if it’s the S4 pro or the 600. I know it’s very sad but most of the users really fall for marketing and are uninformed.

  • Kassim

    The more I hear about quad-core this and eight-core that in smartphones, the more I dread to think what we’ll have in 3-5 years time.

    16-core, 32-core or even 48-core plus processors in phones?! It seems we are rapidly, unconsciously, irresistibly heading that way.

    I just hope that consumers, analysts/commentators, manufacturers alike can see that this sort of “progress” for progress’s sakes is highly unsustainable and stop thinking in such a short-term manner.

    I mean, we don’t even have any particular application – that’s the dictionary definition there – at this time or in the near future that would demand such numbers of processors in an everyday phone!

    We should really put software optimisation at the forefront rather than hardware expectations. For all that’s “wrong” with them, that’s one of the things that consoles, for example, have going for them…

    • kascollet

      Software optimization is not a marketable concept, but core-number is. It’s is very sad, but people are this dumb. As long as Samsung equips the S4 with a quad core, the average consumer will be happy, be it Exynos, Qualcomm or NVidia.
      One brand is really working on software optimization and can avoid the hardware communication trap : Apple, but the price is well-know : restrictions and rigidity in software ecosystem and UI.

  • Bone

    It’s all about the SW this year PPL! The most impressive thing about the HTC One is the live homescreen, which is a refreshment over the boring icons and widgets, and no matter of the surely industry leading HW, Samsung’s SW package will decide it’s critical success.

    If we get finger AirView function and low power consumption on the AMOLED screen, I’m so getting it. If not, then I’ll just wait for the X Phone, the Nexus 5 or maybe the HTC One to drop a couple of hundred bucks in a few months.

  • ickyboo

    Someones forgetting about the Exynos 5450 quad core Cortex-A15 without the big.LITTLE tech.

    OctoCore was only announced last month and I wouldn’t expect it to be ready for production right away. It usually takes years from announcement to final product to market when it comes to processors. We have known of the Exynos 5450’s existence since early 2012 and was said to be released in Q1 2013 which is the perfect time for Samsung to start production on the SGS4

    • yes, they should use that rather than going qualcomm

    • kascollet

      ARM A15 architecture is useless in a phone without the low-power A7 companions. The Exynos Dual A15 powering the Nexus 10 already has some issues lasting long enough on a tablet ! GS4 would need a 5000Mah battery to power a quad A15.

  • Oh the irony, the irony, the xynos octa was designed to reduce power consumption with its big.LITTLE technology, but can’t be used because of power consumption and heat generation issues!!