Samsung will soon launch two very special smartphones. While the folding Galaxy F will turn heads (especially its price), the headline act is the company’s 10th anniversary Galaxy S10. And Samsung’s most important partner has just confirmed what is arguably the phone’s biggest upgrade…
In an official statement, chip designer Qualcomm has formally announced its next generation system-on-chip (SoC) - expected to be named the ‘Snapdragon 855’ - and revealed it will bring 5G to “premium tier smartphones” for the first time. Crucially, the Galaxy S range is always first to market with these chips and Samsung’s buying power has even forced rivals to use older hardware in the past.
Qualcomm says the secret sauce behind (what will be called) the Snapdragon 855 is its 7nm manufacturing process, which lets it run cooler, faster and deliver superior battery life. 7nm is also what Apple will use in its A12 chipset for the company’s trio of new iPhones.
But Qualcomm’s confirmation that the chipset can be paired with its Snapdragon X50 5G modem is the main event.
In public tests Qualcomm has already shown smartphones with the X50 modem can deliver speeds of up to 1.4Gbps (that’s 1,400 megabits per second), so its language that 5G “the upcoming platform will transform industries” as carriers launch 5G later in 2018 and through 2019 may not be far fetched.
Furthermore, Samsung is determined to jump on this technology as Apple’s decision to shun Qualcomm modems means it won’t have a 5G-compatible iPhone for several generations.
In fact, Samsung CEO DJ Koh has already gone on record bragging that the company hopes to launch a 5G phone even before the Galaxy S10. I suspect this will be a niche device limited to the Asian market, but one to ensure Samsung takes the “World’s First 5G phone” award.
It also won’t matter that Samsung splits its Galaxy phones between Qualcomm’s Snapdragon and the company’s own Exynos chipsets. The former is typically sold in the US, so this announcement locks in a 5G Galaxy S10 there, but Samsung is also working on its own 5G modem so Exynos-based S10’s elsewhere shouldn’t miss out either.
Qualcomm promises more details about the chip, including a performance breakdown and its name (yes, it will be called the Snapdragon 855), “in the fourth quarter of 2018”.
Coupled with the significant design changes Samsung has planned for the Galaxy S10 (including some dragged straight from science-fiction), the inclusion of 5G has the potential to really excite fans following an iterative year. And that’s before we get to the main event…