Samsung has had an interesting smartphone line up this year, the latest release of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition goes further to prove that Samsung intends to offer competition to every brand out there at every price point. It is true that Samsung offers a lot of value with their lineup but one secret should be known by the consumer, the Exynos chipset debate. If you follow the tech world closely you may know that Samsung sells different variants of the same product to different regions. This didn’t use to be such a big deal, but with the latest offerings like the Note 20 Ultra, the performance gap is up to 20% which is just absurd.
This article will go over the details of why Samsung is risking their market respect and what they intend to do with this behaviour of releasing different variants across regions. If we are being honest, most reviews you will likely see of a phone are by US tech reviewers, most of them never put enough emphasis on this debacle as they are getting the Snapdragon variant in their region; for them, it is not a big deal. The problem arises when the same reviews are used as marketing in other regions and the product being sold is quite different. One can say that speed does not matter but the debate goes beyond just different speeds. Below are the top aspects you should expect to be different in your Exynos based Samsung product.
Talking about performance, the Exynos chipset just can’t keep up with the constant innovation Qualcomm is putting forward with their SOCs. The gap between Exynos and Snapdragon has never been clearer than before; if this wasn’t insulting enough, the Samsung Note 20 Ultra even has different cooling systems depending on which region you get the device from. The out of box performance difference can often be hard to notice, that is what most reviews are based upon. The problem starts occurring after an average of the 6-month period when the temporary cache starts to build up and the less optimized SOC has trouble keeping up with your day to day usage. The other difference is overheating, the fact that Exynos chip usually does worse when it comes to working under load in addition to different cooling systems being used in the same Samsung phones; this does not spell good news for long term endurance of your device. Overheating can lead to slow performance due to thermal throttling, especially in demanding apps and games. The more your phone heats up also means higher battery degradation over time.
Besides the battery degradation due to the overheating aspect of the Exynos chip, there is another part of the problem too. Bad optimization of the Exynos chip means that you simply will get less day to day battery life out of your device. Even though most variants are packed with the same size battery, Snapdragon is just better at making a smarter decision based on better-optimized instruction sets to offer better battery life. How the chipset handles background operations and how energy efficient it is, will go a long way helping out your device.
As it stands right now, Exynos is just simply behind Snapdragon in every regard. This also means that you will be missing out on features like 5G though that does not matter much in countries like Pakistan where it is still a long bet. You also lose on specialized advantages Qualcomm has with their technology which aren’t oftentimes talked about. Stuff like better camera optimizations or better support for networks is something to keep in mind when you are investing in devices that are worth 1,000 USD+ especially when you add the PTA tax on top. Innovation is what makes a device premium. While most mid-range devices these days offer almost everything one can ask for from a smartphone; constant innovation is what separates a flagship. That innovation does not trickle down to the masses due to Exynos being not on par with the competition.
So why buy a Samsung Device?
It is easy to bash on a company like Samsung for this kind of behaviour, it might seem like what being done is all bad news for us consumers but in the long run, things might change around. Recently announced news suggests that Samsung will be manufacturing the next Snapdragon SOC for Qualcomm, this can also in return help them improve on their own chipset. The other news is that Exynos will be used in upcoming phones by brands like Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo. At the end of the day, even if Samsung is not the best phone brand, it is one of the leading OEM. Samsung is equipped better than no other brand out there when it comes to meeting demand. The recent example of Nvidia getting destroyed due to scalping and bad organization of its RTX 3000 series release is a perfect example of why having a good manufacturing system is important. The reason Samsung goes with their in house chipset is simple, it allows Samsung to meet high demand quickly and have better vertical integration as a brand. It is not all bad for consumers though, you do actually pay less sometimes because Samsung is more likely to offer deals and discounts in such tight competition regions. Having their own chipset also allows them to exclude costly features such as 5G which frankly don’t make sense in the subcontinent at the moment. On a final note, most things stated here won’t show up when you open up the product, these inconsistencies become more apparent later on in the life of a device. So it must be kept in mind that benchmarking is important to show the long term effects and how a one should invest better into a tech product.
So as someone who loves tech and likes seeing innovation, I really can’t hate Samsung for pushing their own chipset as it WILL result in a better tomorrow for Samsung products. My only gripe is the false advertisement around it, Samsung should clearly educate and inform customers that a certain product has its chipset instead of the currently superior Snapdragon. I am tired of seeing my feed full of ‘tech reviewers’ boasting how the Note 20 is the fastest phone they have when it isn’t even the fastest Note 20 out there. This is the worst aspect of this debate, the consumer does not need to suffer unknowingly especially if they are paying the same out for a different product. Samsung also isn’t the only one to blame for this behaviour as other brands have adopted similar strategies, brand X/Y/Z releases a phone with a Snapdragon processor and when the series makes effective market impressions the next model of it has no mention of Snapdragon in it (more on that another time).
The future will tell a different story, a day will come when Exynos is finally equal to Snapdragon; till that day we can hope that the consumer gets educated better about the matter and understands their purchase.
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My name is Saqib and I am a Tech-Driven Product Manager that helps businesses, big and small, develop their software products.
The fields of Product Development, Operations, and Consumer Tech is my passion – with over 4+ years of experience executing successful projects along with prior experience of 8+ years in IT, Consumer Tech and SaaS – I enable teams to build scalable Products.