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Opinion post by
C. Scott Brown

For years now, every new iteration of the Samsung Galaxy S line has seen a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800-series chipset powering the phones in the North American market. Other areas see Samsung’s own Exynos CPUs powering the phones. With the Samsung Galaxy S30 due early next year, it’s reasonable to assume this trend would continue.

However, there are some early rumors sprouting up on Twitter (h/t Phone Arena) that suggest Samsung might upend this tradition in 2021. Two relatively unknown, self-proclaimed leakers have chimed in to say that it’s possible Samsung could ditch Qualcomm altogether for the Samsung Galaxy S30 series. That would mean all Galaxy S30 phones — even the ones here in the United States — might have Exynos chipsets.

I know this sounds crazy and it’s very likely a false rumor. However, the rumor also makes perfect sense, which makes me think it could hold water.

A Samsung Galaxy S30 without Qualcomm? Why?

Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 in hand front

The Samsung Galaxy S20 series is really, really expensive. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra has an MSRP of $1,399, and no phone in the line is under $1,000. One of the reasons for these high prices is how expensive the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset is. Samsung paying Qualcomm for these processors is a cost that gets passed onto the consumer.

Now, I’m not saying that costly chipsets are the only reason these phones are expensive, but they are a big reason. Since it’s reasonable to assume that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 875 chipset we expect to see in 2021 would be the same price as the 865 or even more expensive, the Samsung Galaxy S30 line would need to stay above the $1,000 mark — or go even higher.

Related: The Galaxy S line isn’t selling well anymore, and that could be a good thing

Enter this new rumor. Samsung makes Exynos chips itself so it could save a lot on production costs by skipping Qualcomm chipsets and going with its own house-made brand. Those savings could be passed onto the consumer (i.e., make the phones cheaper to buy), or allow Samsung to keep pricing the same but increase its profit per device sold.

Keep in mind multiple reports suggest the Galaxy S20 series is not selling well. The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t helping matters, but it’s clear consumers just aren’t finding enough excuses to drop a grand or more on a smartphone right now. That reluctance is going to extend into 2021, so Samsung has a real problem on its hands: it needs to keep the Samsung Galaxy S30 series as its high-powered premium phone line while preventing the price from skyrocketing even further.

That’s why the idea of the Galaxy S30 line only using Exynos chipsets isn’t too far-fetched. Samsung is stuck between a rock and a hard place, and ditching Qualcomm could be its best way out.

We’re skeptical, but we can’t rule it out

The Samsung logo.

To be clear, there are so many reasons to think that this rumor isn’t true. The biggest reason, though, is that it would be bad for PR surrounding the Samsung Galaxy S30 line since Exynos chipsets are objectively inferior to Qualcomm’s. We go over this thoroughly in this article and our own Gary Sims proves just how different the processors are in this Speed Test G video. Samsung fans have come out in droves to exclaim how much they dislike Exynos CPUs when compared to Qualcomm’s, too.

Simply put, the removal of Qualcomm CPUs in the Samsung Galaxy S30 line would be a drastic change that might drive more consumers away than it would draw in those consumers who are looking for less expensive phones.

The Samsung Galaxy S30 can't just be business-as-usual for Samsung. It's not in the position to rest on its laurels.

However, the Galaxy S line needs drastic changes to stay viable. Samsung can’t just throw out more mega-expensive phones in the Samsung Galaxy S30 line and call it a day. Even Apple is reportedly dropping prices of the iPhone 12 line in response to buyer trends, and the very existence of the iPhone SE, OnePlus Nord, and Google Pixel 4a are further proof of the changing landscape. Even Samsung itself is betting big on the mid-range market with its Galaxy A series, which includes the world’s second-most popular Android phone.

It’s obviously too early to draw any conclusions or even make educated guesses regarding these rumors. All I’m saying is that the possibility of the Samsung Galaxy S30 line landing without Qualcomm chipsets makes sense more for 2021 than any other prior year.

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