Why Samsung’s S5 Processor is the Pinnacle of an Anticlimax

March 2, 2014 - Written By Patrick Northcraft

The release of Samsung’s newest Galaxy phone, the Galaxy S5, came with a bit of ice.  The phone, while sporting some respectable specs, was nothing to be super excited about.  Yes, there are some perks to the device, but it is not a major game changer.  Of course it is entirely possible that the phone will succeed, and given the fact that it is Samsung throwing the money around, it most likely will.  There is a considerable market here for those who bought a Galaxy S3 on a two year contract and are looking for something new.  Outside of that, there really isn’t a feature, either hardware or software, that screams “You Need This Phone!”  Considering that Samsung has their own resources and potential to create a super-device, the question remains as to why they have yet to really do that, and why their devices have been anticlimactic for the last few years.

The factor that really determines the fate of a phone is the processor.  Let’s be real here, you can throw as many gimmicks and functions on to a phone as you like, but if it cannot support it through processing power then the phone is doomed to a large amount of lag, which no one wants to deal with especially after spending hundreds of dollars on a phone.  I am not saying that the S5 will have a lot of lag.  Hopefully with the toned down version of TouchWiz, the phone will be even faster than its predecessors.  The point I’m getting at is that Samsung has not been doing anything innovative with processors on the American front at all.  Yes the phone has the Snapdragon 801, but despite some minor hardware differences it’s effectively just an overclocked version of the newer version of the Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974AB).  It is common knowledge that Samsung produces their own processor called the Exynos.  This processor line has some interesting things happening with it.  They have dedicated gaming and audio circuitry that provides a great multimedia experience.  They also have a feature called ‘active hibernation’ that does not refresh pixels until they absolutely need to be, which reduces power consumption by (inversely increasing battery life) by up to 10%.  The caveat is that this feature is only usable with Samsung displays, which you think would be a great combination.  Unfortunately, it isn’t.  Only the Asian variants of Samsung’s phones ever seen the Exynos line.  But why is that?

The reason is fragmentation within Samsung.  Samsung Mobile, who is in charge of making the most profitable phone, is not associated with the Samsung Exynos line.  There is no cooperation or secret dealings that Mobile has to use the processor, and since the Exynos processors separate the LTE Modem from the main processor to increase performance, it also increases the manufacturing costs.  Qualcomm’s Snapdragons keep those two parts merged, which makes them cheaper.  Basically, Samsung Mobile does not want to pay the amount that Exynos is asking, so they turn to Qualcomm.  I believe that should the two branches start to cooperate more, the potential for some major innovation is there.  This is not to say that the S5 is not a powerful phone… it certainly is.  However, it did not surprise me when the specs were released.  Samsung really hasn’t innovated here, and while this is not a bad thing, it isn’t a good thing either.  What do you think?  Share any thoughts you have below!