Update: It’s not always a nice surprise when you’re expecting one thing and are then presented with another, but that’s exactly how we feel having discovered that the new Samsung Galaxy S4 will be coming to the UK sans fancy octa-core processor and instead offer up a somewhat less inspiring quad-core chip.
Despite UK press originally receiving word from Samsung that we would indeed be getting our hands on a new Galaxy S4, complete with a 1.6GHz Exynos 5 octa-core processor, the Korean company has now seemingly forgotten this fact and their official stance is that select markets; including the UK, will receive an alternative version featuring a 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor.
When pressed to provide any specific details on the matter, Samsung stuck to their most recent statement and were unable to offer anything else up with regards to reasoning behind the decision: “The Samsung Galaxy S4 is equipped with a 1.9GHz Quad-core AP or a 1.6GHz Octa-core AP. The selection of AP varies by markets. In the UK the Galaxy S4 will be available as a 4G device with a 1.9GHz Quad Core Processor. “
The same thing happened to US consumers last year, who instead of receiving the Exynos 4 Quad-toting S3 us Europeans were offered at launch, only had access to dual-core handsets with a higher clock speed and 4G functionality. Based on this fact it may be that the UK’s under-developed 4G infrastructure is to blame for the discrepancy. With 2013 being the year that nearly all the nation’s most significant carriers switch on 4G, the S4 might have to make do with the quad-core chip to support more of the 4G bands at work in the UK, but at the same time, it might offer better battery performance as a result.
Update: Samsung didn’t give any reason why in the UK we will get the 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor, but it now seems that it may be a manufacturing problem with the new 28nm chip.
Samsung Exynos confirmed with a Tweet the delay has nothing to do with 4G (LTE) compatibity:
According to Daniel Nenni from SemiWiki.com Samsung uses a manufacturering process called ‘gate first’ for the Exynos 5 Octa chip, which is cheaper and simpler, but ultimately harder to yield, especially with more complicated System on Chips (SoC’s), leading to delays.
In contrast the 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor, developed by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) uses the alternative gate-last process, which doesn’t have the same yield isses. Ultimately this chip which will now be used on UK versions of the Galaxy S4 and has been.
If you’re interested in chipset manufacturering, Nenni’s article offers a lot more detail. Ultimately, it seems to get the phone to market on time, Samsung had to go with an alternative chipset.