We just got another hint about the processor that will be powering next year's Galaxy S10. And this one comes from Samsung itself.
Samsung hasn't said anything publicly about the processor slated for next year's flagship phone. But XDA Developers was digging around an unreleased Android 9 Pie firmware for the Galaxy S9 and found a reference to an upcoming Qualcomm mobile processor. (This isn't unusual: software can often refer to hardware that hasn't come out yet, since that same software is being built to run on future releases.)
According to XDA, Samsung's Android Pie firmware includes a policy file for something called the Snapdragon 8150. It's assumed that will be the successor to the Snapdragon 845 currently powering the Galaxy S9 and Note 9 (as well as many other top Android flagship phones).
Most people had assumed that the next Qualcomm processor would be the Snapdragon 855, so this could signal a big branding shift on the part of the chipmaker. Then again, it could also be a placeholder name, and the next-generation Snapdragon could still launch as the 855 when Qualcomm finally reveals it, either close to the end 2018 or right at the start of the new year.
Whatever the name, Qualcomm's next processor figures to be a big jump forward. We already know that Qualcomm is working on a 7-nanometer processor, similar to the A12 Bionic and Kirin 980 CPUs powering the latest phones from Apple and Huawei, respectively. Switching to 7-nanometer chips boosts performance while also easing power consumption.
Another rumored feature for the Snapdragon 855 (or 8150, if you buy that there's a new naming convention) is an on-board neural processor that will power more AI-driven tasks. Chips designed by both Apple and Huawei boast neural processors of their own.
We're in for a bit of a wait before we hear more about Qualcomm's next mobile processor or the Galaxy S10. The chip isn't likely to be unveiled until the end of the year at the earliest and the phone would likely follow with a debut around the time Mobile World Congress kicks off in February 2019.
XDA's firmware sleuthing found a reference to another anticipated Samsung release. That same Android Pie file also refers to a device called "winnerlte." "Winner" just happens to be the internal codename for the foldable Galaxy phone — either launching as the Galaxy X or Galaxy F, depending on which rumor you subscribe to. That phone's expected to be unveiled at Samsung's developer conference next month.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.