Qualcomm has announced that its next-generation flagship mobile chipset will be the Snapdragon 888. Along with that, it revealed a series of partners that it’s working with to launch next-generation phones using the chipset. A number of expected names were among those partners, including the likes of LG, OnePlus, Motorola, Xiaomi, and Vivo. But one name that was strangely missing was Samsung. No company is going to skip the opportunity to mention the biggest name in Android, so there has to be a reason why Samsung wasn’t included.
It’s entirely possible that Samsung just didn’t want to announce that its next flagship phone, expected to be the Samsung Galaxy S21, will be powered by the Snapdragon 888. That’s a good reason for it to be missing from Qualcomm’s list, given the two companies’ long partnership together.
That said, Qualcomm and Samsung do have a bit of a complicated history. Samsung has regularly launched phones in different countries with a mixture of Qualcomm and Exynos chips, and with the Galaxy S6, it even launched exclusively with Exynos. The results have been … mixed, to be frank, and the models with Qualcomm’s chip have generally been regarded as the superior devices.
Still, Samsung doesn’t seem to be giving up on the idea that it can move entirely to Exynos chips, and it’s possible that it will try again starting next year. This is a trend that has many examples — Apple is reducing its reliance on third parties by moving its Mac line to self-built ARM chips.
Other companies may also be reducing their reliance on Qualcomm. Earlier in the year, rumors popped up suggesting that Google and Samsung’s chip divisions were working together on a new chipset for future Pixel phones. In previous Pixel models, Google has used bespoke Pixel Visual Core and Pixel Neural Core chips, however, it did away with this in the Pixel 5. Theoretically, if it could build a chipset with the same technology built-in, it could make for better power efficiency.
It wouldn’t be very surprising if Samsung were to make such a move. Building its own chips would likely be cheaper than buying them from Qualcomm. But this only works if its performance, and other capabilities like 5G network support, can actually match (or beat) what the Snapdragon 888 offers.
We’ll have to see if Samsung not showing up on Qualcomm’s list of partners actually means anything, or if it’s all just speculation. But there’s no denying that the industry is shifting, and that’s only likely to continue.
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