Tech giants like Google and LG may not use Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon 865 mobile platform in their flagship smartphones primarily because the chipset itself is expensive, as well as it adds a lot of work in the R&D, and increases the total cost to manufacture a phone. Instead of using the Snapdragon 865, the companies may opt for Snapdragon 765G which is said to be just a step down from the SD865 in the chipmaker’s SoC lineup.
In January, XDA Developers reported that the Pixel 5 and 5 XL don't use the Snapdragon 865 processor. In an Android code, the platform found that both the phones are powered by the Snapdragon 765G. Similarly, Korean site Naver (via Ars Technica) reports that LG is taking the same approach with the LG G9 ThinQ, the company’s 2020 flagship device. HMD Global, the company that sells Nokia-branded phones, recently launched the Nokia 8.3 with SD765G.
ArsTechnica lists a number of reasons for this. First is the high cost of the chipset. Qualcomm has separated the cellular connectivity modem, that is, there is no onboard modem integrated on the flagship chipset. This means that it is mandatory for OEMs to bundle the X55 Modem for 4G and 5G connectivity. Although the chipset adds a versatility quotient so that people can enjoy faster connectivity on the phones with SD865 when there is 5G support in their country (like India), it adds a cost to the smartphone.
Further, an additional modem requires extra space in the phone, which means that the OEMs have to design complicated motherboards to include the modem. This leads to bigger displays, and eventually larger batteries, which ups the total cost of the smartphone. Moreover, if OEMs have to deliver fast 5G speeds (mmWave), they need extra RF modules around the phone that adds more cost to the final product.
Now you know why Samsung Galaxy S20 Series phones have big displays, larger batteries and are relatively costlier than its previous generation of phones. In the US, the Samsung Galaxy S20 starts at $1,000 for the smallest version and the top variant of the Galaxy S20 ultra costs $1,400. Last year, the Galaxy S10e started at $750, the S10 was $900, and the S10+ was $1,000.
In India, the company uses the Exynos 990 processor, which also comes with an external modem for 5G connectivity. But here in India, all the smartphones support 4G, which means either they have 4G modems integrated in the SoC or have an affordable 4G external modem. In any case, the phones with Exynos chipsets have more-or-less the same price as last year’s*. The Galaxy S20+ (8GB/128GB) is priced at Rs 73,999 in India, and the 128GB variant of the Galaxy S10+ was launched at a price of Rs 73,900.
However, both Google and LG may not consider having Exynos chipsets due to its reported lower performance as compared to Snapdragon chipsets. Instead, they might go for the Snapdragon 765G which is affordable and have an integrated 5G modem. It’s known that the performance of SD765G chipset is not as great as the SD865 but given Google’s software prowess and optimisation, people are not likely to notice the difference in performance.
For those who don’t know, the SD765G is slower than the SD865. The SD865 is manufactured by a 7nm fabrication process, and has eight-cores with four A77 cores and four A55 cores. In comparison, the SD 765G uses two A76 cores and six A55 cores.
*We have reached out to Samsung for a clarification on this, and we’ll update the story when we get a statement on the same.