Report: Snapdragon 835 will launch first in Galaxy S8, others have to wait

Samsung has reportedly bought all initial inventory of Qualcomm's upcoming high-end chip.

Fresh off its unveiling at CES earlier this month, we can hardly wait to get our hands on the first Snapdragon 835-powered smartphone, but it appears as though we might have to cool our heels a bit. A new report from Forbes suggests the new chip won’t launch until the Samsung Galaxy S8 does, and it’s looking more and more like that’s not going to be until the spring.

Samsung has already announced that its next flagship will skip the traditional Mobile World Congress unveiling this year, and now Ben Sin of Forbes reports that none of the phones released before it will include the new Qualcomm silicon. That includes HTC’s Ultra U, which was already announced to include the Snapdragon 821, and most likely LG’s G6. According to Sin’s source, “The Snapdragon 835 won’t be available in large quantities until after the Galaxy S8 launches.”

TechCrunch previously reported that Samsung semiconductor would fab the new chip for Qualcomm on its new 10nm process. But Samsung's chip manufacturing business isn't really the same arm of the company as the mobile division. The Snapdragon 820 was manufactured by Samsung on it's 14nm FinFET process, and the first phone to use that chip was the Le Max Pro from LeTV. It's more likely that Samsung just has an agreement to buy the entire initial inventory of the chip, leaving other manufacturers to wait for later production runs. The new processor brings a load of new features, including new Kyro 280 CPU, 25 percent faster 3D graphics, much improved power efficiency, dual 14-bit image signal processors, and Qualcomm’s new X16 LTE modem.

Why this matters: Phone manufacturers are constantly battling over specs, and if true, this is a big win for Samsung. While we’re still waiting to see what kind of real-world improvements the Snapdragon 835 brings over the 821, a window of Galaxy S8 exclusivity, however small, will bring a major advantage to the new handset on paper, and will likely make its competitors seem instantly outdated.

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Michael Simon

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