iPhone 7 A10 chip to be made exclusively by TSMC, Samsung semiconductor in trouble

by: Kris CarlonFebruary 11, 2016

iphone 6s aa (17 of 24)

Samsung semiconductor just can’t catch a break right now. With global semiconductor sales peaking in 2015 and a weak forecast for 2016, the holy grail of chip contracts in 2016 was always going to be the A10 for the iPhone 7. Samsung was, understandably, going after it in earnest, but a new report out of South Korea claims Samsung rival TSMC has been awarded the exclusive rights to produce the A10 for the iPhone 7, sending Samsung into a “state of emergency”.

Samsung-2See also: Salvaging Samsung: Can the world’s largest OEM ever recover?11

While Samsung and TSMC have previously shared the load of chip production for the iPhone, TSMC reportedly won the exclusive contract due to its more advanced 10 nm process compared to Samsung’s 14 nm process. Full-scale production is scheduled to begin in June. Samsung was left reeling back in 2014 when TSMC got the exclusive rights to the A8 chip-production for the iPhone 6, but successfully managed to split the chip supply contract with TSMC for the 6s and 6s Plus.


Losing half of the contract to TSMC is going to mean very bad things for Samsung’s System LSI division. While this news is only being reported in South Korea today, Samsung’s semiconductor division apparently knew about the contract being awarded solely to TSMC back in the latter half of last year and is perhaps why Samsung was forecasting a tough year ahead for semiconductor sales. This is perhaps also why Samsung has been aggressively courting Qualcomm over the contract to produce the Snapdragon 820.


Samsung’s 14 nm process might be enough to win additional business producing the latest Qualcomm chip, but the company already has a plan to get back on top in 2017. Samsung is reportedly working on a new 7 nm process to win the contract back from TSMC for the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus. But this year doesn’t look good, with officials claiming it will be difficult for Samsung’s System LSI to be profitable in 2016.

samsung galaxy note 5 review aa (15 of 32)See also: Flashbacks and Forecasts: Samsung in 201620

Considering the performance differences uncovered between the different iPhone 6s models last year, Apple’s choice seems a wise one for the iPhone 7. Not only is the TSMC process more advanced, iPhone 6s models that used the TSMC A9 were found to run cooler and offer better battery savings – however marginal – than their Samsung twins. It may have been the first time iPhone users actually cared about the specs of the latest iPhone.

Do you think Samsung will get the A11 contract next year? What do you think this means for Samsung’s overall profitability?

Up Next: iPhone 7 flexible displays to be made by Samsung

  • tanjiajun34

    TSMC gets Apple and Kirin 950. Samsung gets Snapdragon and Exynos. Seems pretty even for both sides.

    • Sayed ahamed

      except the volume of apple A10 is expected to be very large

      • Real-SteveJobs_TheWalkingDead

        For TSMC’s sake, they better hope Taiwan doesn’t suffer another earthquake that almost affected TSMC’s manufacturing plants nearby just recently.

        • SeanPR11

          I would NOT like people to get hurt/killed, but it would be funny if apple had to delay their phone because they put all of their eggs into one basket, probably out of spite.

      • Hans Pedersen

        And the volume of Android phones using Snapdragon processors isn’t expected to be very large?

    • Not the entire Snapdragon series but only the flagship ones, actually just the 820. As for the Exynos, it’s non other than Samsung, where even Samsung own phones isn’t restricted to it, it would have Snapdragon.

    • Abdou Azzedine (A2Z)

      Samsung also gets Zen cpu + amd gpu

      • Diego

        thats coming in 2017.

        • Hans Pedersen

          End of 2016.

  • Would prefer to know who said about Samsung’s 7nm plans?

  • I think Intel shl’d retire from fabrication processes and just let others fabricate their chips

  • Sherpa

    Wasn’t TSMC supposed to be the sole-provider last year as well but they couldn’t keep up with the demand, and that is why Apple had to purchase from Samsung. Hope they can keep up this year.

    • We see these same BS articles every six months and Samsung continues to make their components, this is simply a clickbait and fanboy trolling magnet.

  • Abdou Azzedine (A2Z)

    Apple A10 will be 16FF+ as tsmc deleyed 10nm to early 2017 , by that time samsung gets snapdragon 830 and exynos 9 octa in 10 nm

  • Kody

    I actually hope they don’t get the A11 so it lights a competitive fire under Samsung’s ass to make larger improvements.

  • Nallaikumaran

    Samsung semiconductor in trouble? Samsung into a “state of emergency” – What is going on here? Misleading people? Biased news. The news that’s going on is a rumor. In fact, Still most parts from iPhone are made by Samsung. Samsung builds Retina displays, RAM, Apple Watch processors, Apple Watch displays, hard drives and more. Samsung might have lost the iPhone 7 order, but get to manufacture the S820 for every other flagship phones out there. This article is a joke. They sound just like iDitos (Appleauthority). The Actual story is Apple marketshare is falling in US. And Samsung catching up to Apple in the US smartphone market.

    • gg

      Not all Retina displays are made by Samsung; only the iPad displays. The rest is manufactured by LG or JDI.

      • Jake

        I thought all Apple’s Retina displays were made by LG….. Seeing as they are more or less LG’s own IPS display.

        • Nallaikumaran

          Check out – Wikipedia

    • Brad Fortin

      “Samsung might have lost the iPhone 7 order, but get to manufacture the S820 for every other flagship phones out there.”

      Alright. Apple sold >230 million iPhones last year. I’m willing to bet that’s more than all Snapdragon 810 devices (LG G Flex 2, Xiaomi Mi Note Pro, HTC One M9, OnePlus 2, Motorola Droid Turbo 2, Sony Xperia Z3+/Z4, Sony Xperia Z5 series, Nexus 6P, Microsoft Lumia 950 XL, etc) combined, easily.

      Sure, there’s more overall Android device sales than iOS sales, but when it comes to high-end devices (devices over $400, the kind most likely to have the S820) Apple has a majority, and the best-selling high-end Android phone, the Galaxy S6 (and all its variants), doesn’t even use the Snapdragon 810.

      Apple and its A-series of chips mean big money to fabs like Samsung and TSMC.

      • Hans Pedersen

        You’re comparing the worst selling generation of the Snapdragon with a bundled number of all iPhone models. How about comparing it with a more relevant market share like, the 801/805 generation of Snapdragons?

        • Brad Fortin

          If you’re going to compare previous generation Snapdragons you might as well compare previous generation A-chips, which would mean comparing more models of the iPhone than just the latest generation.

          Since you want to compare all the way back to the Snapdragon 801 we’ll have to include the competing A-chip at the time, the A7 from the iPhone 5S, meaning we’ll have to include the sales results as far back as Q1 2014, which brings total iPhone sales to >475 million.

          Of that, as you get closer to present day sales increase, as does the mix of newer iPhones (as can be seen by the rising ASP), so the total number of iPhones 5S and newer is probably ~400 million.

          I’m still willing to bet the iPhone 5S and newer have better sales than all Snapdragon 801 and newer devices.

          • TheWay2005

            You do understand that the Galaxy S7 will hurt a lot the 6s sales, right?
            This their best phone ever made and it will affect the iPhone 6s

          • Diego

            What makes you think that the galaxy s7 will do any better then the galaxy s6?
            If iPhone sales are going down, samsung will have to sell the phone at $400 or $500.
            Which means no money.

          • Brad Fortin

            It’ll have an impact, no doubt, but “hurt a lot” might be an exaggeration.

          • Scr-U-gle

            The S6 failed, as did the S5 & S4, 20million devices shipped, and at a massive discount, is not a success.

            They have sacked the board twice, sacked the design team and replaced with people who they talk about as having worked with Jony Ive.

            The S7 will be on the bargain bin within weeks of launch.

            Another iPhoney, destined for the bargain bin

          • Hans Pedersen

            My point was pretty clear, I’m sure of. Very few manufacturers used the SD 810 for known reasons. Including Samsung themselves.
            Here’s another point as to why Samsung is in no trouble at all like the trolling headline wants to suggest. If Samsung feared they’d end up with over-capacity on their chip factory, would the spread their supply chain to include chips not made by themselves on the next Galaxy S? I sort of doubt that. A lot.

          • Brad Fortin

            “If Samsung feared they’d end up with over-capacity on their chip factory, would they spread their supply chain to include chips not made by themselves on the next Galaxy S?”

            Over-capacity? If anything, with TSMC taking Apple’s A10 orders, Samsung’s factories would be *under*-capacity since they wouldn’t be manufacturing tens of millions of Apple chips, which would leave an opening to manufacture tens of millions of chips for other customers.

          • Hans Pedersen

            To your delusional thoughts that Apple, with a total market share of little over 15%, has sold more iPhone 5s’s than the total number of SD 801 based phones is just, mind-boggling. The SD 801 was literally in all flagships the year it was released and all major mid range devices 6-12 months later. It was the processor that gave Qualcomm revenues that got them to the point where the almost rivalled Samsung on semi-conductors, the year when Samsung made the majority of Apple’s processors, their own SD processors, RAM for a huge portion of the mobile business and their own Exynos processors.

          • Diego

            Remember, he’s talking about the flagship market, not the low end or mid range market.
            Now tell me, how much does android own in the flagship market?

          • Diego

            Now, how many android “flagships” were sold with the SD801.

          • Hans Pedersen

            These are listed on Wikipedia as sold with the Snapdragon 801: Vivo Xshoot Elite,[207] IUNI U3,[208]BlackBerry Passport[209]Oppo N3,OnePlus X (with 578MHz GPU)[210],Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet (WiFi-only variant),[212][213], Xiaomi MI3W (China Unicom WCDMA version)[215], Smartisan T1, [218]Xiaomi MI4W (China Unicom WCDMA version), Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro (K920), Xiaomi MI3C (China Telecom CDMA version)[215], Hisense X1,[219]Hisense X9T,[219]Pantech Vega Iron 2 (A910),HTC One (M8)(International Version), Vivo Xplay 3S, ZTE Nubia Z5S LTE,[220] Sony Xperia Z2,[212][221][222]Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet (LTE variant),[212][223]Oppo Find 7a International Edition,[224] Sharp Aquos Xx304SH, Sony Xperia ZL2 SOL25, Sony Xperia Z2a, Coolpad 8971, Sharp Aquos Zeta SH-04F, Asus PadFone S, Sharp Aquos Crystal X, ZTE Nubia W5, IUNI U3, Panasonic Lumix Smart Camera CM1, Vertu Aster, HTC One (M8) Eye, HTC Desire Eye Fujitsu Arrows NX F-02G, Fujitsu Arrows Tab F-03G, Fujitsu Arrows NX F-05F, Lenovo K920 TD-LTE (China Mobile version),[225]OnePlus One,[226]HTC One (M8)(Asia Version),[227]Gionee ELIFE E7L, LG G3,Samsung Galaxy S5, Oppo Find 7, ZTE Nubia X6 TD-LTE 128 GB, Samsung Galaxy S5 TD-LTE, Vivo Xshot Ultimate, LG Isai FL, Samsung Galaxy S5 Active, HTC One (E8), Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport, ZTE Nubia Z7, ZTE Nubia Z7 Max, Xiaomi Mi 4,InFocus M810, Sony Xperia Z3, Samsung Galaxy S5 Duos, Sharp Aquos Crystal X, HTC Butterfly 2, ZTE Nubia W5, IUNI U3, Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, Sony Xperia Z3 Dual, Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, Motorola Moto X (2nd Gen.), Panasonic Lumix Smart Camera CM1, Vertu Aster, HTC One (M8) Eye, HTC Desire Eye, Sony Xperia Z3v Philips i966 Aurora, LG Isai VL, BKAV Bphone, ZUK Z1 and These used the Snapdragon 805 from the same year: Samsung Galaxy S5 LTE-A (Korea), LG G3 Cat.6, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 LTE, Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, Amazon Fire HDX 8.9, Motorola Droid Turbo, Nexus 6, Inforce IFC6540,[231] Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Duos

          • Nallaikumaran

            Also Samsung will start building chips for AMD. Samsung will manufacture CPU and GPU chips for AMD in 2016.

          • Hans Pedersen

            True, and the desktop PC market has a much greater potential for higher profit margins. A desktop processor is quite a lot more expensive than a mobile ditto. So, the doom and gloom headline here is something that belong better at trolling sites like the verge or cnet. Really hope it’s not a new trend for AA.

          • Scr-U-gle

            Well that’s about 40 more chips they’ll sell this year!

          • Diego

            now, how much money did they make per OEM.

          • Hans Pedersen

            That inevitable moment when Apple trolls completely lose the plot and start circle jerking Apple profits because they run out of relevant arguments…

          • Scr-U-gle

            And the insults continue from the drone who can’t get it through his thick skull that no one has bought those devices he mentioned and never will.

            The only company to make any real money is Apple, Similarsung keep firing the board, employing inbreds family members, and the rest only sell at below cost after massive discounting.

            Drone M us at 1.2%, you have to buy a new handset to get it in reality, and you still can’t make a penny from drone devices.

            It’s a bad joke by Scr-U-gle, who only care about profiting from your data.

            What’s it like being mocked by your cult leaders?

          • Hans Pedersen

            The overly defensive and nonsensical corporate Apple trolls always flood Android sites at this time of the year. I wonder why? :D No one bought any of the devices in that wall of text I posted above? Are you really that deep up the a** of Tim Crook to have such a messed up perception of reality?:D

          • Scr-U-gle

            Never even heard of 80% of those devices, no one else has either, xiamio sold half as many as they thought they would and Sony are stepping out of the mobile industry due to poor sales.

            Are you such a drone you have to image an Asus POS sold in volume?

          • Diego

            All i’m saying is that the sd820 won’t help android flagships.

          • abazigal

            I think you are also forgetting that A-series processors are also found in other iOS devices like the iPad, Apple Watch, iPod and Apple TV. For example, the A8 processor is found in not only the iPhone 6 and 6+, but also the iPod touch, iPad mini 4 and latest Apple TV. That’s a ton of savings when it comes to manufacturing and R&D costs.

            Where Apple shines here is that they are able to use the vast economies of scale of the iPhone to indirectly subsidise the R&D costs of A-series processors for other smaller-volume products. It would be prohibitively expensive to create a custom processor for a small-volume product like the Apple Watch or even a future Apple Car. Less so when you have an entire division already doing most of the work anyways.

          • Hans Pedersen

            ^^^How top spot professional Apple trolls and astroturfers on the internet:
            Look for the completely illiterate and impossibly stubborn people who just can’t stop no matter how wrong they are.

          • Brad Fortin

            You realize that the vast majority of Android sales are budget models, right? Apple might “only” have ~15% worldwide market share, but in the $400+ portion of the market, the portion where most Snapdragon 8xx chips end up, Apple has more than 50% market share. Android rules the low-end, Apple rules the high-end, like in the computer market. (That’s also why Apple is one of the only companies making profits in the those markets, but that’s a topic for another discussion.)

            Of course, it’s hard to tell exactly how many of any model of Android phone is sold, given that Apple is pretty much the only company that still reports sales figures, but that’s why you might want to look up OpenSignal. Every August they do an analysis of Android fragmentation and make a neat visualization showing how much of the market each model of device has. You’ll notice that some high-end flagships sell in reasonable numbers, like the Galaxy S4/S5, but the majority of the market is flooded by sub-$200 budget models, like the Galaxy Grand Prime and Moto G, which would run either a Snapdragon 2xx or 4xx, maybe a 6xx if it’s a mid-range device, but definitely not an 8xx. Qualcomm produces a lot of chips but the number of chips produced per series is inversely proportional to their cost. To think that the entire Android market, including budget phones, runs the Snapdragon 8xx series is delusional.

      • southerndinner

        Just out of curiosity, what would entice someone who is so clearly an iOS user to not only read but be involved in the discussions of an android website?

        • Brad Fortin

          You think I’m exclusively an iOS user?

        • abazigal

          And what’s wrong with that?

          I use predominantly Apple devices, but I don’t see the logic of confining myself solely to Apple-related news and websites while boycotting every other source of information out there. I too love technology, and want to keep my abreast of what is going on in the smartphone world, which means frequenting websites like AA.

          Also, getting opposing views allows me to make a more informed and balanced view, so I am more aware of not only the strengths, but also the weaknesses of the Apple ecosystem. I like Apple products, but I am not going to pretend that my platform of choice is flawless and in no need of improvement.

          Lastly (and this might sound arrogant), I find that Android-centric websites aren’t always very accurate or balanced when it comes to reporting Apple-related news, and I would like to share what I know about the Apple ecosystem with the rest of the people here. Hey, if you are going to make a judgement call and condemn Apple, at least let it be an informed decision based on facts and reasoned arguments.

        • Scr-U-gle

          Because you moroids talk a lot of shit, who else is going to put your fact free diet right?

      • Nallaikumaran

        Also Samsung will start building chips for AMD. Samsung will manufacture CPU and GPU chips for AMD in 2016.



    • I was thinking the same thing, I hate the way they click bait articles these days. It’s so ridiculous!

    • Diego

      most parts of the iPhone are made by samsung.
      umm, samsung doesn’t supply “most parts” as you say.
      Samsung doesn’t make retina displays, they stopped making LCD displays a long time ago.
      the display is from sharp I believe.

      • Nallaikumaran

        Oops, Another false information. That prove you know nothing. how lame you are. Just proof to show how dumb Apple fans are. Have you no shame? Not at all. Most Apple users don’t waste their time trolling Android page. iSheeps still dancing.

        • Christopher Lim

          And Wikipedia’s the world’s most reliable source, right?

    • Diego

      The only thing samsung supplies, apart from the SOC, is the ddr4 ram.
      Other apple suppliers include Qualcomm, Texas instruments, Skyworks, ECT.
      So your statement is wayyyyyyyyy off.

      • Nallaikumaran

        Hello,iSleep boy. Not true. Shameless Liar? You have no idea what you’re talking about the smartphones. Most Apple users don’t waste their time trolling Android page.

        • Peter

          You 12?

          • Nallaikumaran

            You 0?

        • Diego

          I reed this site because I own an LGv10.
          Oh, and I got this info from a teardown.
          So much embarrassment.

        • Diego

          Try harder, sammy fanboy.

        • Scr-U-gle

          What a moRoid, Similarsung only make the RAM and all the poorly performing CPUs from the 6s.

          Now they are going to be lucky if they can make the RAM.

          Oh, you as usual, only had a cursory glance at a wiki page, so you are right and Japan Displays didn’t make the Retina screens as usual!

          You really need to find a fact or two before you start running your gums.

          Oh I forgot, you’re a drone who even when he’s wrong is right.

          • King_Android

            They’re be lucky if they can make the RAM? Samsungs memory chips are by far more superior than anything on the market.

          • Scr-U-gle

            There ram is superior? those standard designs that are built to industry standard specs? of course they are.

            Why is it the more grandiose a moriod users name, the less they actually know?

      • Nallaikumaran

        In fact, Your sound just like iDiots, Samsung builds Retina displays (iPad, Old iPhones and Next iPhone OLED too), RAM, Apple Watch processors, Apple Watch displays, hard drives and more. Most parts from Apple are made by Samsung, Did u think it’s a shame for Apple? It’s an idiot thinking. You’re just an Apple IDiot fanboy. You just a Samsung hater. Shameless and brainless hater… Haters keep on hating. Well, that’s your problem. It’s an idiot thinking. how lame you are. Have you no shame? I don’t have time to reply all your stupid comments.

        • Diego

          yet, I have provided sources for my claims, you haven’t.
          The only idiot, in my opinion, is you.
          And even wen I have proven you wrong, you still keep pushing your BS.
          and no, lg was making “old iPhone” displays since 2012.
          Again your lack of information is just sad.

          • Nallaikumaran

            Who made the old iPhone display? (iPhone, iPhone 3..). Tell me about that, You haven’t proved yet.

            I said – Samsung builds Retina displays, RAM, Apple Watch processors, Apple Watch displays, hard drives and more.

            Your answer – The only thing Samsung supplies, apart from the SOC, is the ddr4 ram.

            You’re a shameless liar. Most parts made by Samsung. Don’t hide the facts. Some facts you cannot hide. The only dishonest idiot, in my opinion, is you. And even when I have proven you wrong, you still keep pushing your BS.

          • Diego

            In fact, Still most parts from iPhone are made by Samsung.
            Thats what you said on your first comment.
            Good try, buddy.

          • Diego

            Just check i fixit teardown.

        • Diego

          Tl”DR, do your research before you talk.

    • Пешо Пешев

      Another fucking idiot… Yes, Samsung will make SD820, but there are “little” problem- every year Apple manage to sell MORE iPhones than all Android flagships… And YES, this means troubles for Samsung- I can bet that their stocks going down… Not with much, but for big brands even 0,5% drop means millions loss…

      • Someone asdf

        Samsung sells more phones than any other manufacture, period. Sure they might not be flagships, but the semiconductor business doesn’t really care.

        I also wonder if TSMC could actually keep up with demand? If they could, why did they split all those years?

        Oh right. I phone sales are down. They can keep the “omg we sold out for months”… when they sold out of half of what they normally do.

      • Nallaikumaran

        Hello, Mr. Apple fucker, In fact, Every year Samsung manage to sell MORE Samsung Phones than all iPhones.(World). Samsung Largest Smartphone Seller In 5 Out Of 6 Regions – News. Apple in big trouble (US). And Samsung catching up to Apple in the US smartphone market. Most Apple users don’t waste their time trolling Android page. U shameless fucking iDiot.

    • STT

      Everything I have seen says Apple is holding, what sources are you looking at? Just curious.

  • John Doe

    Well let’s just hope that they mess it up .. lol

  • Diego

    Samsung, you’re fired.

    • While being hired elsewhere increasing their productivity three fold.

  • Paul M

    I seem to recall a previous time when people said Apple was switching suppliers away from Samsung, and had to run back to them because there were problems with the alternative supplier.
    Unless Apple are so angry at Samsung they’re willing to risk their production schedule, they’ll continue to use Samsung until the alternative supplier is thoroughly proven.. and even then not totally cut off Samsung.
    Anyone who remembers the Sumitomo chemical works fire will remember how it led to component shortages. No sensible company relies on a single supplier!

    • abazigal

      Wasn’t that what “chip gate” showed? That the A9 processor made by TSMC was in fact superior to the one made by Samsung?

      • TheWay2005

        Wrong, was all Apple’s fault! one was fully optimized and the other one wasn’t, Was Taylor Swift all over again
        14 nm it’s better than 16 nm..you do understand that right?

        • abazigal

          I see no evidence of favouritism or foul play by Apple here. They are a profit-maximising company first and foremost, and I see no reason for Apple to jeopardise their profits and their reputation over a petty squabble with Samsung.

          Simply put, both TSMC and Samsung has the same opportunity to impress Apple with their manufacturing and engineering capabilities, and TSMC came out ahead. Simply put, the better man won, fair and square. 14nm might be better than 16nm on paper, but I guess something went wrong with the production process somewhere for Samsung.

  • HotelQuebec

    Apple sees lower iPhone and iPad demand so it doesn’t need dual sourcing and TSMC is like the Walmart of fabs winning the bid on lowest pricing but not necessarily quality. Samsung gained Qualcomm so it more than makes up for it.

  • Kukujiao

    Apple Authority

  • stfu

    This kris carlon dude is pretty shit. Just like matt benson. Aa, you can do much better than this piece of garbage writer.

  • s2weden2000

    lot of faPple aijphoney users here …

  • Scr-U-gle

    Let’s do a fact check:
    Similarsung CPUs are inferior, even when they claim to have higher performance metrics.

    Similarsung this year will have lower performance metrics.

    So when drones claim their phones are faster, they really are just talking out of their arses.

  • Rash

    If TSMC has managed to get 10nm going for A10 production than Samsung is pretty much out of Apple. Why ? All of Apple’s chip need will move to way more efficient 10nm with TSMC for Iphone, Watch, Ipad, Apple-TV, etc. When Samsung comes out with 7nm, TSMC will already be their. If Samsung can jump from 14nm to 5nm in 3 years(which is next to impossible) than Apple might consider Samsung again.

    Moreover, why Apple provide it’s design internals, future direction and know-how to Samsung to become better with processor design and fabrication who will compete with Apple in future.On contrary, TSMC is 3rd party FAB who only care to fabricate everyone’s chips.Not sure why Apple waited this long to run with Samsung.

  • Gadgetonomy

    What’s with all these Apple news stories and Apple product articles that are increasingly appearing on my favourite tech website? EVERYTHING ANDROID is AA’s tagline, please keep it that way.