Samsung and Qualcomm have had a longstanding partnership for years. In fact, Samsung has relied more on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon silicon in recent years for its flagship phones than its own in-house Exynos chips, especially for its premium Galaxy S series. Qualcomm has now announced that it will power Samsung’s flagship phones globally as part of a wide-ranging deal.
Samsung usually launches its flagship Galaxy S series phones with the Snapdragon chip in most countries, while launching the phones with their in-house Exynos chips in a few regions. Notably, 75% of all Samsung Galaxy S22 phones were shipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, while the remaining 25% were shipped with Samsung’s relatively new Exynos 2200 processor.
We have heard rumors that the Galaxy S23 has been tipped to ditch Samsung's Exynos chip in favor of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Now Qualcomm’s Q3 2022 earnings call corroborates this. The company announced that Samsung will in fact launch Snapdragon-powered Galaxy flagship phones globally starting with the Samsung Galaxy S23 — and it will likely have no region distinction in chipsets.
In a press release by Qualcomm, the company CEO Cristiano Amon said that “you should be thinking that we’re going to be much better than that (S22) on Galaxy S23 and beyond. It’s a multi-year agreement.”
This could indicate that we will see Snapdragon-powered Galaxy flagships in many regions, but maybe not in all variants. Either way, Exynos may not make it to the Samsung Galaxy S23 line-up in any region.
Samsung’s foldables already have Snapdragon powering them already, and they never used Exynos for their foldables anyway. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3 are powered by the Snapdragon 888 processor.
Where does this leave Exynos?
Samsung is not giving up on Exynos just yet. While speaking to analysts on a call, Samsung clarified that it will not discontinue the Exynos chip. A company official said, “Currently, we are reorganizing our system-on-chip (SoC) business model, and are pursuing a plan to strengthen our competitiveness in the mid to long-term.”
Future Samsung flagships might turn to Snapdragon in the future, but mid-range and entry level phones from the company could still carry the Exynos chip that competes with Snapdragon and Mediatek in the space.
The comments by Samsung officials on analyst calls indicate that the company is ready to turn over a new leaf with regard to its Exynos chips. Rumors had suggested Samsung was working on a high-end custom processor with a 1,000-strong team for its S series lineup — something which could see the light of the day in 2025.
This means the company probably won’t launch a new flagship Exynos processor in 2023 and 2024. That could explain why Exynos may not be seen on the Galaxy S23.
Qualcomm has said their agreement with Samsung includes a patent licensing deal for 3G, 4G, 5G and 6G technologies. Beyond phones, the deal also means Samsung will expand its use of Snapdragon in categories like PCs, tablets, extended reality and more.
Could Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 make the Galaxy S23 one of the best phones? We will find out when Samsung launches their next gen S-series flagships next year.