Samsung’s next flagship Galaxy S device may well end up using two completely different types of processors – a 7-nanometer chip from Qualcomm and an 8-nanometer chip from Samsung’s own foundry. Samsung’s flagship Galaxy devices have typically used the company’s own Exynos processor in some parts of the world and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon in others; since the company normally manufactures the Snapdragon chips for Qualcomm, they’re typically made with the same process. The Galaxy S9’s generation, however, may be different because Samsung is still preparing to roll out 7nm processes, while rival TSMC, who got the Qualcomm contract for the next generation Snapdragon, will have its 7nm foundries ready by then.
It’s not a big logical leap to think that Samsung will simply dump the Snapdragon and use the Exynos worldwide this year due to TSMC getting the contract, but an alleged insider claims that Samsung will probably still go with the Qualcomm option in all of the usual territories due to the processor’s efficiency and low cost. It is also worth mentioning that Qualcomm’s chips normally have built-in networking support for all of the necessary network bands in their given territory out of the box, making it easy for carriers and OEMs to put together a device that works flawlessly. Samsung’s Exynos lineup has network support geared more toward the international audience, including Samsung’s homeland of South Korea. The last time a Galaxy flagship lineup sported Exynos processors around the world was the generation of the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6.
Qualcomm has actively worked against Samsung as far as selling Exynos processors to third parties over the years, making Samsung’s processor a less popular option than it otherwise would be. While Samsung is free to use its own Exynos processor in all versions of the Galaxy S9, if the reports about the two different chip processes are true, it would be cheaper to use the Qualcomm processor in compatible territories, and Samsung would end up with a more power-efficient, and possibly more powerful device. If this happens, it would likely reverse this year’s performance gap, which sees the Exynos-powered Galaxy S8 outperforming its Snapdragon-based sibling by most metrics. There are rumors of a possible 7nm Exynos chip that will grace the Galaxy Note 9, but for now, there is no word on such a chip coming to market in time for the Galaxy S9’s likely release window, i.e. spring of 2018.