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Samsung rethinking Exynos strategy after Galaxy S22 processor throttling mess

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The Galaxy S22 series came with an unexpected suite of problems that might have hurt the flagship’s sales prospects this year. The most critical issues concern the Galaxy S22’s Exynos processor, as Samsung had to deal with throttling and GPS issues in a matter of weeks.

The performance controversy is the more serious of the two, having turned into a significant scandal in Korea. Samsung has issued a fix, allowing users to reduce throttling. But the issue continues to affect Samsung, and the company apparently plans a big strategy change concerning the Exynos System-on-Chip (SoC) that go in phones like the Galaxy S22 series.

Galaxy S22 customers found that their phones would reduce the phone’s performance to prevent overheating and save battery life. The practice is standard for the industry, but Samsung’s new phones cheated in apps. The Galaxy S22 recognized benchmark apps, so they didn’t throttle the performance while those ran. The results would be misleading, showing peak performance that was only theoretical.

The Galaxy S22 throttle disaster recap

Samsung needed only a week in early March to issue a software fix. You can disable the throttling threshold that Samsung set. But the phone will still reduce performance while under heavy load. All phones and computers behave in such a manner.

The problem with Samsung’s newest flagships is that pundits were already worried about the Exynos 2200 SoC even before the Galaxy S22 release. Samsung was late to unveil its next-gen Galaxy processor that should compete against the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and A15 Bionic. And Samsung’s announcement only focused on the chip’s GPU capabilities rather than the chip’s performance. Galaxy fans worried about performance issues and overheating even before the phone came out.

Recent history showed that the Exynos processors aren’t always on par with their Snapdragon counterparts. It was only last year that Samsung mocked its own chips while insisting that the Galaxy S21 will deliver better performance than the previous model.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus color options. Image source: Samsung

This year, Samsung focused on the Galaxy S22 ray tracing support that comes with the Exynos 2200. That’s a first for mobile devices, but nobody is even talking about that milestone. The throttling problem overshadowed that achievement. As for performance, cheating in benchmarks did not help Samsung get close to the A15 Bionic.

Finally, the Galaxy S22 performance issues seem to have impacted the Exynos 2200 versions. That’s why Samsung rolled out the fix updated in Korea and Europe in early March. US Galaxy S phones usually ship with the latest Snapdragon SoC on board.

Samsung’s new Exynos processor strategy

A report earlier this week said that Samsung might use a MediaTek flagship processor in the Galaxy S22 FE. The report noted that the MediaTek SoC would replace either the Snapdragon or Exynos chips without singling out either brand. However, it seems more likely for Samsung to ditch the Exynos 2200 in favor of the Dimensity 9000 for the new Fan Edition phone.

This wasn’t the only SoC development coming from the South Korean smartphone vendor. TM Roh, the chief of Samsung’s mobile division, said that the company will manufacture processors exclusively for the Galaxy smartphones. That’s according to the Korean news site iNews24. But it’s unclear what it means.

Samsung makes all sorts of Galaxy-branded devices, not just flagships like the Galaxy S22 FE. In fact, mid-range phones like the Galaxy A53 usually outsell the flagships. Those handsets also rock Exynos processors that Samsung designs in-house.

iNews24 says that Roh’s remarks came in response to the Galaxy S22 throttling and GPS controversies. The exec addressed the matter during a town hall meeting last month, saying that Samsung will make an “AP unique to the Galaxy.”

Galaxy S22 Exynos 2200 benchmarks
Galaxy S22 Exynos 2200 benchmarks: Geekbench 5.1 single-core result. Image source: Computer Base

Will the Galaxy S22 successor run on new Exynos chips?


One interpretation might be that Samsung’s next-gen Exynos processors will be customized for Galaxy devices. Samsung would not sell those SoCs to competing Android vendors. The other is that Samsung might design a new Exynos processor specifically for flagships like the Galaxy S22.

After all, throttling the performance of a flagship phone is more likely to hurt a company’s image. People buying more expensive devices expect the best experience from them. Comparatively, throttling mid-range chips wouldn’t be that much of an issue.

While we can only speculate on Samsung’s next moves, it’s clear the company has been paying attention to the Galaxy S22 backlash. Samsung seems ready to deploy actual fixes to a problem of its own creation. That includes possibly adopting MediaTek processors in the short term while developing a next-gen Exynos chip that can deliver sustained performance.

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 closely follows the events in 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.