Qualcomm practically confirms Galaxy S23 series to finally ditch Exynos chips everywhere

For a while, we have been hearing rumors about Samsung ditching the Exynos chips it uses for its flagship Galaxy phones outside the US, but now, it is practically confirmed that the Galaxy S23 family will come with a Snapdragon chip everywhere.

Qualcomm CFO Akash Palkhiwala confirmed the news when answering a question during the recent investor call, and here are the executive’s exact words:

This will not affect flagship Galaxy models in the US, as they already use a Snapdragon chip, but it is great news for people in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world where for years users Galaxy S phones featured inferior Samsung Exynos processors and worse camera quality.

Quite frankly, this slower chip and sub-par experience was one of the biggest scandals in the smartphone industry. The Galaxy S20, the S21, and most recently the S22 all suffered from the negative press, which they – deservedly – got for using a slower chip in many countries. In all of those phones, the Exynos versions usually had slower performance, worse battery life, and photo and video quality was also worse.

In our comparison, we found that “colors are also muted on the Exynos photo, while you get more vibrant and saturated tonalities out of the Snapdragon.”

Samsung, however, insisted on including this chip. It was made in house and the company hoped it could compete with the Snapdragon chips dominating the industry, but unfortunately it never quite managed to get there. With no other phone makers using an Exynos chip in a flagship product, it was a Samsung exclusive thing, but not one to brag about.

The one curious Exynos exception

Samsung was forced to kill the Exynos in one country earlier than in others

Interestingly, one exception to Samsung’s Exynos strategy was India. The country is known for its extremely demanding consumers and it seemed that Samsung felt how using the Exynos chip in India hurt its sales more than in other regions. That is why in 2022, Samsung reversed course and shipped the Galaxy S22 series with a Snapdragon processor in India. Not surprisingly, the S22 series was way more successful in India compared to previous models and it’s easy to make the connection between that decision and the change in fortunes.

For other countries, however, including the UK, Europe and the rest, the Galaxy S22 family stuck with the Exynos chip.

Let us also remind you that Samsung has had a different strategy for its foldable phones. Be it because these are more expensive and considered more premium, or for other reasons, the Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Flip series launch with Snapdragon chips from the beginning.

It will be interesting to see if Samsung mentions this change at all when it launches the Galaxy S23 family, and by the way the latest Galaxy S23 release date rumor points to a release in the middle of February 2023, so we’re merely three months away from that.

Apart from the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip that is expected to power all three Galaxy S23 models, the vanilla S23, the S23 Plus and the S23 Ultra, we expect a new 200MP camera on the Ultra to make a big splash. And with all models now running the Snapdragon processor, you won’t have to worry whether image quality is slightly worse in one country or another, you will get the best image quality everywhere.

Interestingly, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is not expected to receive a major overhaul in the design, so it will mostly look like its predecessor, separate camera housing for each lens, built-in S Pen, and all the rest. The one slight change are differently curved edges, so the phones will have a flatter edge, making it easier to pick up when it’s laying flat on a table.

The other two models, the S23 and the S23 Plus, are expected to receive a bigger battery, which will be very appreciated by most people. The Galaxy S23 Ultra, on the other hand, will have the same battery size at 5,000mAh. Hard to complain about that, though, a 5,000mAh battery is still a huge size.

Global implications

Samsung’s Exynos wasn’t the fastest, but it was good enough and it helped diversify the industry

On the other hand, some analysts mentioned that the Samsung-made Exynos chip was a good opportunity to diversify from a China-Taiwan dominated manufacturing chain. With global uncertainty after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and with a looming military threat from China over Taiwan, a possible military conflict might seriously affect chip production on a global scale.

And while Exynos was never the fastest chip around, it was widely seen as a good enough chip. Having it gone from flagships, means one less competitors, and will also result in the industry becoming even more reliant on Taiwan’s TSMC.

How will this all work out in the long term? It’s hard to predict, and there are obviously various points of view if you happen to be an analyst concerned about the big picture. But at least in the short term, the move to Snapdragon processors seems like a big win for consumers, who are now likely to get their new S23 phone with the best possible performance, no matter which country they buy the phone from.

Finally, this also brings up the question of pricing.

Apple kept the price of its iPhone 14 series unchanged in the US, but that is not the case for Europe and the rest of the world which saw huge price increases. Will Samsung’s transition to the more powerful and probably slightly more expensive Snapdragon chip result in a similar price hike? It’s way too early to tell, but that is one more possibility to consider.

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