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iPhone 7 vs. Galaxy S7: Processor wars are about to get more intense

Published Nov 6th, 2015 4:40PM EST
iPhone 7 Galaxy S7 Processors
Image: MacMixing | YouTube

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The iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 will be next year’s most important new smartphones. And while it’s still too early to get excited about these unannounced handsets, the first rumors we’ve see have offered interesting details about both phones, including speculative information about the future chips powering them.

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Granted, mobile processors might not sound that exciting, but they represent the most important component of any smartphone, playing a major role in the overall user experience, especially on flagship handsets like the iPhone and Galaxy S/Note. (Check out this video to see a performance comparison between the iPhone 6s and Galaxy Note 5 in real-life testing to see how important mobile chips are.)

New reports from Asia this week have offered more details about the chips that will power these devices, including the A10 for the iPhone 7 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and Exynos 8890 for the Galaxy S7.

The iPhone 7

TSMC will be the only manufacturer of the A10 next year, a new report from CTimes says, suggesting that the iPhone 6s’s “Chipgate” scandal is the reason why Samsung lost Apple’s business for the next-gen iPhone.

According to the often-accurate KGI Securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo, TSMC will start mass-producing the A10 chip next March, with the new iPhone 7 supposed to hit production in the third quarter of 2016.

The new A10 chip will be built on a 16-nanometer process, using TSMC’s state-of-the-art InFO (integrated fan out) architecture. The chip is supposed to be more energy-efficient and faster than the predecessor.

But, most importantly, new chip technology might allow Apple to move to a system-in-package chip for the new iPhone, similar to the S1 chip inside the Apple Watch.

A SiP design would theoretically make it possible for Apple to increase the iPhone’s battery size, add other internal components, or even reduce the overall size of the iPhone. Nothing is confirmed in this regard for the time being.

The Galaxy S7

Samsung may have lost iPhone 7 chip orders, but the company landed other important chip orders. According to Business Korea, Samsung will build the Snapdragon 820 flagship chip for Qualcomm, which is expected to power most flagship Android handsets of 2016.

One of those handsets will be Samsung’s Galaxy S7 flagship as Samsung is expected to use Qualcomm’s best chip next year after relying only on its own silicon for the Galaxy S6 series. But versions of the Galaxy S7 will also make use of the Exynos 8890, Samsung’s next-gen chip for flagship handsets.

The Snapdragon 820’s specs are already known. The 64-bit chip is supposed to be 40% faster than the Snapdragon 810 and feature support for LTE speeds of up to 600Mbps (download) and 150Mbps (upload), next-gen HD voice and Quick Charge 3.0 technology.

Samsung won’t only build Qualcomm’s chip, as it’ll also work on solving the overheating issues of the Snapdragon 820, which were already denied by Qualcomm. Samsung will supposedly prevent overheating by changing the microprocessor software or by adding heat-radiating pipes to the chip’s design.

Equally impressive is the Exynos 8890 chip, which is Samsung’s “all-in-one” processor that is supposed to integrate the application processors and Samsung’s own modem chip. The Exynos 8890 is going to offer tri-band carrier aggregation (being the first in the world to have it) and LTE speeds of up to 600Mbps. The chip is going to be manufactured on 14nm technology and should also be faster and even more energy-efficient than previous Samsung mobile CPUs.

Galaxy S7 buyers in the U.S. and China will reportedly get the Snapdragon 820 version, with all other regions receiving the Exynos 8890 model.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.