In return for Samsung using Qualcomm’s 2016 flagship 820 system on a chip (SoC) it gets to make them – fair is fair.
Samsung is practical – use its own Exynos in the coming flagship or keep its foundries busy making Qualcomm’s flagship SoC that will be used in most premium phones – win-win. Samsung has one of the most advanced 14nm chipset production facilities in the world – only it and Intel can make this kind of processor.
Samsung will unintentionally ‘leak’ details of the S7 soon and launch it at the Mobile World Congress 22-25 February) – the move back to Qualcomm gives it access to ‘Zeroth’ technology.
Zeroth is Qualcomm’s first cognitive computing platform – it adapts and learns from the users every move and response. In short it monitors what you do, it sees what you do, it reasons like you do, and it can take intelligent action like you do – that’s the theory. It is a fancy name for machine learning but cognitive technology will be the next killer smartphone feature.
The Snapdragon 820 has significantly high-end processing; 40% more graphics power and 4/8K display; X12 (600/150Mbps) LTE 4G support; 25MP and dual rear camera support; Wi-Fi AC, dual band MU-MIMO; intelligent co-processing for always on; and far better battery life.
Of course all this tech relies on the smartphone maker to implement it – that’s the hardest part.
Read on for the S7 rumours.
The S7 (Model SM-G930/935) will initially come in two variants – the 5.1”, Super AMOLED 2560×1440 flat and 5.7” Edge+/Note 6 versions. The latter will be later and it is possible that these will have QHD 3840×2160 resolution screens. There are some rumours that the base version may be 5.2” and the Edge+/Note 6 will be 5.8” – all without any physical increase in size over the S6. Gorilla Glass 5 will protect the screens.
The microSD slot will be back – likely as part of a ‘dual sim’ carrier. It should support cards up to 200GB.
Rear camera resolution may drop from 16MP to 12MP f/1.7 – this is an unusual leak unless it is about using dual rear 12MP cameras instead – the Snapdragon 820 supports this. Another leak says single 20MP rear camera – either would be interesting. The single LED will be replaced with a dual LED (tone) flash.
Apple’s force touch (peek and poke) cannot be patented and Samsung is likely to use Synaptics ClearForce technology to achieve similar functionality.
Battery wise Samsung is stuck with existing technology so expect to see similar capacity to the S6 – with the caveat that the screen and the 820 should be more power efficient. Wireless charging and Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 will remain standard so that probably means the battery will not be removable.
USB-C is almost a certainty and Samsung may provide a charge dock that allows screen, keyboard, mouse and other USB 3.0 devices to be attached. It is not Microsoft Continuum but it’s a good start to help make more inroads in the corporate arena.
Style wise the S6 was pretty good and it looks like the S7 will follow this design cue. It may use a new magnesium alloy for added strength – no #bendgate here.
Price wise – expect about the same but there are rumours that the 4GB/64GB model will be entry level. I doubt that, but Samsung has the memory technology to be able to do that.
All this is driven by Android Marshmallow that supports some of the Qualcomm Zeroth features but it will be Samsung’s implementation that will make or break the S7.
Is it more of the same or Samsung’s next saving grace?
I awarded the S6 series the best Android smartphone in 2015. It was well built, performed very well, had an extremely low return rate, a very high customer satisfaction rate and the Samsung TouchWiz user interface added real value. Yet due to global market saturation it did not do a lot to improve Samsung’s bottom line profit. On the other hand, making Qualcomm’s Snapdragons again will improve profit.
As I stated earlier the 820 is a really interesting SoC and I will be keen to see how Samsung implements its capabilities. For the first time there is an engine under the bonnet that can do so much more than any operating system (OS) has been able to do.
I am excited at the prospect of Samsung rolling out new machine learning features as it gets the feel for Zeroth.
Back to the smartphone wars. Let’s see what the iPhone 7, LG’s G5, HTC One M10 and more does. I am also quietly and persistently using the Windows 10 Mobile Lumia 950XL – it is now more about OS, features and usability than hardware.