In an official statement Samsung launched the heart of the Galaxy S9, the ‘Exynos 9 Series 9810’ chipset. Describing it as “most innovative mobile processor yet” it may mean very good news for millions of users around the world, but bad news for Americans.
First the good news.
The Exynos 9810 will offer a whopping two-fold improvement in single core performance compared to its predecessor (the Exynos 8895, used in the Galaxy S8) and 40% greater multi-core performance. Peak clock speeds of 2.9GHz are also extremely high. Samsung is promising greater efficiency as well, but didn’t deliver any numbers.
Meanwhile the Exynos 9810 is big on party tricks. 4K UHD can be recorded and stabilised at up to 120fps (twice the 60fps of the 2017 iPhones). There is also support for 10-bit HEVC and VP9 video formats offering a 64x wider colour pallette than the 8-bit colour support seen last year. In addition a Cat.18 LTE modem with up to 6x carrier aggregation (vs 5ca last year) can deliver up to 1.2Gbps downlink and 200Mbps uplink (dwarfing the LTE-A chip in Apple’s iPhones).
Lastly the Exynos 9810 has a familiar trick up its sleeve: using neural networks for “accurately recognizing people or items in photos for fast image searching or categorization, or through depth sensing, scan a user’s face in 3D for hybrid face detection.” Samsung also describes “realistic face-tracking filters” and “stronger security when unlocking a device with one’s face.”
Yes, this is Samsung’s response to Apple’s Face ID and Animojis. Will the former will be as successful and secure without a dedicated infrared camera? I doubt it. But if it works as well as (and as quickly) as facial unlocking on the OnePlus 5T, I suspect many won’t care.
Now the bad news.
Samsung will continue its tradition of splitting Galaxy smartphones between Snapdragon and Exynos chipsets and Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 chipset cannot handle 120fps 4K UHD video recording. And who will be getting Snapdragon 845-equipped Galaxy S9 smartphones? Yes, the US. The rest of the world will receive Exynos 9810 models.
Whether Qualcomm’s chipset has other performance or battery saving advantages which compensate for this loss remains to be seen, but camera enthusiasts won’t be happy. And given Samsung has had the manufacturing capacity to supply every other country in the world with Exynos-equipped Galaxy phones for years, it is surprising it hasn’t expanded to include the United States.
In Samsung’s defence maybe the company’s attention has been on making batteries which don’t suck…