Samsung has taken the wraps off of its next-generation Exynos 9820 processor, giving us our best look yet at how powerful the Galaxy S10 will be and what specs it’s likely to feature – as well as providing clues to the Galaxy Note 10 further down the line. Here’s everything the Exynos 9820 teaches us about Samsung’s next flagships, from a new triple camera system to 8K video support and more.
The Exynos 9820 is set to be the muscle behind Samsung’s next flagships, the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10, and will supplant the Exynos 9810 as the South Korean firm’s top-of-the-line SoC (system-on-a-chip). There’s also every chance it (or a custom chip with similar core architecture) could feature in Samsung’s eagerly anticipated foldable phone – the Galaxy X or Galaxy F, depending on your school of thought.
By way of reference, the Exynos 9810 is the chip that drove the Galaxy S9 in a number of markets, including the UK, but that’s now old news and the Exynos 9820 offers a number of clear upgrades over its predecessor.
For one, the Exynos 9820 is fabricated on an 8nm process, which is a marked improvement on the 10nm process of the Exynos 9810. This matters, because the smaller the fabrication process, the less power a chip should technically consume – Samsung is saying the Exynos 9820 will be 10% less power hungry than its predecessor, meaning the Galaxy S10 should be Samsung’s most efficient phone to date and offer improved battery life.
Another major improvement is that the Exynos 9820 is capable of supporting 8K video recording at 30fps (frames per second), and ups its 4K recording game to a whopping 150fps. There’s also support for up to five camera sensors, which gives a pretty clear idea that the Galaxy S10 is likely to feature a triple camera system à la the Huawei P20 Pro.
Gamers will be pleased to note the inclusion of the new Mali-G76 GPU cores, which tout a 40% performance boost and 35% power efficiency gains, meaning that visually-intensive games and applications should be handled by the Galaxy S10 with aplomb.
However, the headline feature of the Exynos 9820 is the inclusion of a dedicated NPU (neutral processing unit) for AI tasks. Adding a standalone NPU to the chip will allow it to execute AI-related functions more than seven times faster than the Exynos 9810, and means the Galaxy S10 will almost certainly offer a whole new suite of Samsung AI features.
“As AI-related services expand and their utilization diversify in mobile devices, their processors require higher computational capabilities and efficiency,” said Ben Hur, vice president of System LSI marketing at Samsung Electronics. “The AI capabilities in the Exynos 9 Series 9820 will provide a new dimension of performance in smart devices through an integrated NPU, high-performance fourth-generation custom CPU core, 2.0Gbps LTE modem and improved multimedia performance.”
The only real curiosity is that the Exynos 9820 doesn’t come with an integrated 5G-ready modem. Rather, it’s got a more run-of-the-mill (but still improved) LTE-A Cat.20 modem, which will offer a significant speed bump, but not next-gen 5G speeds.
That said, it’s important to note that a 5G Galaxy S10 variant could still be released featuring Qualcomm’s next-gen Snapdragon 8150 platform. While this might seem contradictory for a firm that has just produced its own new high-end chip, Samsung typically utilises Snapdragon SoCs in its Galaxy flagships in select markets – it’s just that the UK isn’t historically one of them, so we might have to wait until the Note 10 to get a 5G-ready Galaxy phone in Britain.
Other than that (highly important) feature though, expect the Exynos 9820 and Snapdragon 855 to offer similar specs, as competition tends to be more a friendly game of golf than a cage fight between the two.
Who knew a piece of silicon could be so exciting?
Related: Best Galaxy S9 deals
Exynos 9820 vs 9810: How the specs compare
Here’s how the Exynos 9820 matches up against Samsung’s 2018 top-of-the-line SoC, the Exynos 9810.
|Exynos 9820 (Galaxy S1o)||Exynos 9810 (Galaxy S9)|
|CPU||2x Custom CPU (4th gen) + 2x Cortex-A75 + 4x Cortex-A55||4x Custom CPU (3rd gen) + 4x Cortex-A55|
|GPU||ARM Mali G76 MP12||ARM Mali G72 MP18|
|Process||8nm LPP FinFET||10nm LPP FinFET (2nd gen)|
|Storage||UFS 3.0, UFS 2.1||UFS 2.1|
|Modem||LTE-A Cat.20 8CA (2Gbps download) / Cat.20 3CA (316Mbps upload)||LTE Cat.18 6CA (1.2Gbps download) / Cat.18 2CA (200Mbps upload)|
|Display||WQUXGA (3840×2400), 4K UHD (4096×2160)||WQUXGA (3840×2400), 4K UHD (4096×2160)|
|Camera||22MP rear, 22MP front, 16MP+16MP dual||24MP rear, 24MP front, 16MP+16MP dual|
|Video recording||8K@30fps, 4K@150fps, encoding/decoding w/ 10-bit HEVC (H.265), H.264, VP9||4K@120fps, encoding/decoding w/ 10-bit HEVC (H.265), H.264, VP9|
What do you make of Samsung’s Exynos 9820 reveal? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews.