Consensus seems to have settled on the fact that the upcoming LG G6 won’t arrive sporting Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835 SoC. Instead, the phone will come equipped with 2016’s Snapdragon 821, a high-end component to be sure, but one that is already available in a number of handsets. A new report by SemiAccurate confirms this earlier rumor and offers up an important explanation as to why LG chose not to wait for availability of the 835.
For a recap, it is Samsung’s Galaxy S8 that will debut the Snapdragon 835, but this handset is not expected to make an appearance on shelves until sometime in April. Importantly, Samsung is manufacturing Qualcomm’s flagship processor on its cutting edge 10nm LPE process and it’s quite possible that part of this business deal includes Samsung securing the first batch of chips off the production line. While that might not be great for other manufacturers, it’s a pretty fair business deal between the two parties involved.
As such, LG is sticking with its familiar launch schedule and will be showcasing the LG G6 at MWC 2017 in order to eke out an important launch advantage over the Samsung Galaxy S8.
Regardless of any arrangement between Qualcomm and Samsung, SemiAccurate points out that it takes time to bring a processor to market, especially one based on a new cutting edge manufacturing process. The move to a new, smaller, and more difficult 10nm process is therefore likely to extend manufacturing time by a couple of weeks. Remember, it wasn’t until last October that Samsung even announced production of its first 10nm chip, which was later revealed to be the 835.
In total, we’re looking at an estimated five month or so production time for smartphones – four months for the SoC and another month for other components. Therefore even the first Galaxy S8 batch probably won’t be ready until late February or early March. Not to mention that building up the production line for a larger number of orders takes additional time.
Although the first 835 chips might be ready by February, it will take another month or two for production to meet demand.
Although the first 835 chips might be ready by February, it will take another month or two for production to meet demand for a global launch the likes of the Galaxy S8, and even more time will be required to cater for additional manufacturers.
With that in mind, meaningful volume production of the Snapdragon 835 is not expected until later in the first half of 2017, meaning that LG would have to delay the launch of the G6 for two, three, maybe even four months. Even then, there’s no guarantee that LG would be second in line for Snapdragon 835 supply.
By the time the chip is widely available, it will nearly be time for the launch of the V30, or whatever LG calls its mid-season V20 successor. This situation applies to other manufacturers too, so we’re unlikely to see Snapdragon 835 powered flagships from HTC, Sony, OnePlus, or others until around May-June at the earliest.
We're unlikely to see Snapdragon 835 powered flagships from HTC, Sony, OnePlus, or others until around May-June.
While some OEMs traditionally already have later launch slots, for LG this represents a stark choice between waiting and therefore generating no sales before the Galaxy S8, or releasing ahead of the S8 with older hardware. It’s only the latter that really makes any business sense.
Furthermore, LG has previously made its position clear about skirting around issues with new processor technologies. The company cleverly avoided the Snapdragon 810 drama by opting for the 808 in the LG G4, so plumping for the tried-and-tested 821 with the G6 is a safer bet when it comes to producing a powerful phone in a time frame that consumers have come to expect. After all, we don’t exactly know what real-world performance improvements the 835 will bring just yet, and it might not be worth the delay.
While hardware and performance enthusiasts may be disappointed about the lack of a cutting edge processor inside the G6, it appears that LG has little choice but to carry on with its initial launch plan. We will have to see how much of an impact this situation has on G6 sales, if any, and perhaps more importantly, the company’s H1 revenue. It’s quite possible that consumers will gloss over the processor situation in favour of being the first to pick up the LG G6’s new virtual assistant and presumably improved camera technologies.
Is the lack of the Snapdragon 835 inside the LG G6 going to be a deal breaker for you, or are you looking forward to some of the handset’s other features?