Samsung recently launched the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, and while we were generally impressed with the overall quality of the flagship smartphone, one major flaw stood out – at least for buyers in the UK and the rest of Europe.
If you buy the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra in Europe (and many other regions), the smartphone will feature Samsung’s own Exynos 990 CPU; the same chip found in the standard Galaxy S20 series. Purchase Samsung’s latest over in the United States, China or South Korea though, and it will feature the Snapdragon 865+ instead.
Having two different chips, each exclusive to specific regions, wouldn’t be too problematic if they both delivered similar power levels, but it unfortunately looks like the Snapdragon 865+ has a significant performance and battery advantage over the Exynos 990.
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Techadvisor claims there is a ‘1 hour and 38 minutes’ difference in battery life, which is a sizeable advantage for Qualcomm. The Exynos 990 also saw weaker benchmark results when measuring the performance power of the chips, suggesting that those in the US got a significantly better deal.
The performance divide isn’t too surprising, as Qualcomm has long been the leading processor manufacturer for Android phones and has launched a new CPU more recently than Samsung. But that doesn’t make it any better for Galaxy Note 20 Ultra owners in Europe. Not only is their phone weaker than the similarly priced US variant, but it also still lags behind the performance of many recently launched flagship phones such as the OnePlus 8 Pro and Oppo Find X2, despite the Galaxy Note being significantly more expensive.
So why has Samsung persisted with the Exynos 990 despite its obvious limitations? Well, Samsung has invested a lot of money into its processor technology, and to ditch it now would not make a lot of financial sense. Plus, Qualcomm boasting a performance advantage hasn’t really been a major issue until now, with the Exynos and Snapdragon only recently seeing a substantial difference in quality.
This new performance divide is likely because Samsung disbanded its custom CPU division late last year (as reported by Android Authority), making it difficult for the company to produce a new CPU before the arrival of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.
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That doesn’t mean Samsung is giving up on custom-made Exynos chips though. In fact, Business Korea reports that Samsung is looking to work with AMD and Arm to create a new Cortex-X Custom processor that could leapfrog Qualcomm’s offering to become one of the most powerful smartphone chips available.
This new Exynos chip won’t be ready until 2021 though, likely making an appearance in the Galaxy S30 smartphone. This is all very promising news for future Samsung smartphones, but it’s hard not to think that the UK and European owners of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra are now suffering the consequences of this transition.