The Rivalry between Qualcomm Snapdragon and Samsung Exynos: A brief history

Samsung and Qualcomm are two giants of the Smartphone world who despite being bitter rivals, also work for one another. Today I want to talk about a brief history of Samsung Exynos vs Qualcomm Snapdragon.

Samsung is a household name from back in the day. I loved their products in the past a lot. I had that slide to open phone from around 2008 and it was gorgeous. There was nothing then that was available to java phones that it couldn’t do.

Samsung products also carry a lot of prestige too. Both then and now. While Nokia had a rugged feel and huge battery reputation, Samsung was the more sleeker and felt more premium. Even today, the feeling of using a Samsung phone still tickle a lot of people’s fancy. Lots of people would rather buy a low end branded Samsung A or J series device than to get a better option at the same price point. That would tell you that they have a strong brand name.


SAMSUNG EXYNOS


They also make their own SoCs too and brand them as Exynos.

Read: Samsung’s Exynos Smartphone processors (Full details)


Once upon a time, Exynos chipsets  were seen for a brief period as the best in the Android space.

There are some people who still strongly hold on to that notion till now.

Competing with Samsung’s Exynos from back in the day in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon.

Samsung’s first SoC was made in 2000 and used in T-mobile’s Sidekick phone, but they did not release their first Exynos chipset till 2009.


QUALCOMM SNAPDRAGON


Qualcomm released their first Snapdragon SoC in 2007.


Read: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon: Everything and anything you need to know.

While Snapdragon quickly partnered with Google, Acer, Toshiba and HTC, Samsung preferred to keep their Technology for themselves. By 2012, the Snapdragon S4 (Krait core) had taken a dominant share from other Android system-on-chips like Nvidia Tegra and Texas Instruments OMAP which caused the latter to exit the market.

All this while Samsung were quietly building and upgrading their Exynos.

Samsung then was the largest shipper of Smartphones worldwide and so couldn’t really keep up with the demand of chipsets for their phones and so they decided to sign an agreement with Qualcomm to give them their flagship SoCs to cover the shortfall.

The Samsung Galaxy S2 was the first device by Samsung to come with both Exynos and Snapdragon SoCs and so it continued until 2013.

Snapdragon fails and Exynos rises


The Snapdragon 808 and 810 were a disaster. They suffered from overheating, thermal throttling and battery consumption issues. They were so bad that Samsung refused to use Snapdragon SoCs for their Samsung Galaxy S6 phones as well as the Galaxy Note 5.

At this point, Samsung Exynos had the best SoCs in the Android space and Qualcomm’s reputation had taken a huge hit.

In 2016 though, Qualcomm went back to the drawing board with a huge focus on optimization. They built this new SoCs from the ground up using only their parts or buying companies that made parts and taking their technology. From CPU cores, to GPU, to ISP, to Modems etc. They made it all and branded it too.

Qualcomm bounces back

That same year, the Snapdragon 820 was released. It was a welcome development for the company and they soon followed with the Snapdragon 835.

Samsung quickly included Snapdragon 835 on it’s latest Flagship of that year, Samsung Galaxy S8.

Since then, it has been a slippery slope for Exynos. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon has been beating it year after year after year.

Several Samsung Exynos vs Qualcomm Snapdragon flagship SoC comparisons have been held over the years. Snapdragon always comes out as the winner.

Read: Exynos 990 vs Snapdragon 865

A lot of consumers have complained that even though Samsung charges equal prices for both phones, the ones who get the Exynos variant feel cheated.

To buttress this point, Samsung has fired and disbanded it’s R&D team that makes its custom Exynos cores. The company is now set to use IP cores from ARM and it also has an agreement with Nvidia for it’s GPUs.

How that may turn out remains to be seen.

 


 

The Future

Qualcomm have already dropped the gauntlet by releasing the Snapdragon 888. The SD888 is already turning heads so whatever Samsung have got better match up to it. That is if Samsung wants Exynos to remain relevant in the Smartphone world.


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