Samsung Galaxy S21 superchip confirmed — and there’s a big surprise

(Image credit: Credit: Miror pro/YouTube)

The Snapdragon 875, the chipset we expect to find inside the Samsung Galaxy S21, could be made by Samsung itself, raising questions about the fate of Exynos chipsets.

Samsung has apparently begun production at its facility in Hwaseong, Korea according to a report from BusinessKorea. The foundry uses extreme ultraviolet lithography to draw the necessary patterns required for the chipset onto the silicon base.

Qualcomm, the company that designs the Snapdragon line of SoCs, usually licenses TSMC to actually build the chips. However, it seems like Samsung Semiconductor made a better offer this year, resulting in an order that's reportedly worth between $850 million and $1 billion.

Samsung already designs and makes its own mobile chipset in the form of the Exynos range. Unfortunately, while the gap isn't significant, Snapdragon chips have historically beaten their Exynos equivalents in benchmarks.

Now that Samsung has effectively cornered the market in chipset production for the best Android phones on the way, this raises questions about what happens to Exynos. We may see Samsung abandon development since it now has much easier access to Qualcomm's designs. Equally, since the 875 is a flagship-level chip, perhaps the Exynos designers will aim more at low to mid-range chipsets for Samsung's cheaper phones like the Galaxy A series, while the Galaxy S and Galaxy Z series phones all start using Qualcomm chips around the world.

American Samsung owners wouldn't notice any change from this, as in the U.S. Samsung uses Snapdragon chips for its phones due to an outstanding agreement with Qualcomm. However, in the rest of the world, users get Exynos-powered handsets.

The Snapdragon 875 (an assumed name) will be the first Qualcomm chip made with a 5 nanometer (nm) process. That means it'll be the most densely packed chip we've seen from the company so far, hopefully meaning there will be both extra processing grunt and more efficient power draw than the current chip.

Apple will be first to market with a 5nm chip with its A14 Bionic, which will power the upcoming iPhone 12 series of phones this fall. 

Overall, the Galaxy S21 remains a bit of a mystery. We've heard that it may feature an improved 108MP camera as well as 60W fast charging. More importantly, this may be the first Samsung phone to have no camera notch, with the selfie shooter hidden beneath the display.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.