According to SamMobile (via GSM Arena), Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) is reportedly testing an enhanced version of its Galaxy Note 4 phone on "three major South Korea mobile carriers." This variant of the phone will, instead of either the Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 805 or the Samsung-designed Exynos 7 Octa, reportedly feature Qualcomm's latest-and-greatest Snapdragon 810 processor.
Significantly more impressive than the current Snapdragon 805 model
Samsung's premium smartphone lineups can get a little confusing. The North American variants will usually feature Qualcomm applications processors and cellular basebands (either integrated or discrete), while international variants will often feature Samsung-designed applications processors with modems from other vendors such as Samsung itself, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), and others.
In this case, the Snapdragon 810 variant of the Galaxy Note 4 should be meaningfully more powerful and efficient than the variants out there with a Snapdragon 805 paired with a stand-alone Qualcomm MDM9x35 modem. This is for a number of reasons:
- The Snapdragon 810 is built on a more power efficient 20-nanometer manufacturing technology, as opposed to the 28-nanometer used for the Snapdragon 805 applications processor
- While the integrated modem in the Snapdragon 810 is built on the same 20-nanometer technology as the stand-alone MDM9x35 modem in the current Qualcomm-based Note 4 models, the 810's integrated modem supports faster LTE speeds than the stand-alone MDM9x35
- The Snapdragon 810 supports hardware HEVC encoding and decoding (the 805 does not), has a faster graphics processor, more robust camera functionality, and more.
A Snapdragon 810-based Samsung Galaxy Note 4 would be quite an impressive upgrade from the Snapdragon 805 based model currently available for sale.
What about the Exynos models?
While a Snapdragon 810 Galaxy Note 4 would obviously be more advanced than the Snapdragon 805 variant, the question becomes more nuanced when we try to compare such a device to the Exynos-based Note 4 available today.
The 20-nanometer Exynos 7 Octa featured inside of some variants of the Note 4 features an octa-core Cortex A57/Cortex A53 CPU configuration similar to what Qualcomm will be bringing with the Snapdragon 810. The Exynos 7 Octa features ARM's (NASDAQ:ARMH) Mali-T760 graphics, which according to performance tests from PhoneArena actually slightly underperforms the Snapdragon 805 in a number of 3D benchmarks.
The Exynos chip does not feature an integrated cellular modem, and is paired with either Samsung's own Exynos Modem 303 or Intel's XMM 7260 -- both of which I believe are 28-nanometer parts. The Exynos 7 Octa, according to Samsung's site, features support for HEVC video playback (no word on capture); the Snapdragon has both 4K HEVC playback and capture support.
From a chip perspective, based on the public information available today, I conclude that while Samsung's Exynos 7 Octa is in a number of ways more impressive than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805, the Snapdragon 810 should be a more advanced part. This could potentially translate into the Snapdragon 810-based Galaxy Note 4 being more impressive than the best Exynos-based Note 4 models available today.
Ashraf Eassa owns shares of ARM Holdings, Intel, and Qualcomm. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel and Qualcomm. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.