Samsung snub sends Qualcomm into a spin over Snapdragon 810

No-news press release gets customers to splurge their secrets

Comment Breaking news from Qualcomm: it has sent out a press release. The news is not the contents of the press release, but that it was sent out at all.

There is no Qualcomm news in the email we received, which had the subject line “Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 Processor Powers Premium Tier Mobile Experiences of 2015.”

It’s a response to claims that Samsung hasn’t used the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 system-on-chip in the Galaxy S6.

The release is filled with quotes from LG, Xiaomi, Oppo, Motorola and Microsoft execs saying how great Qualcomm and the Snapdragon 810 are. In many cases, it’s the most senior people in these organisations who have put their names to the quotes.

In addition to the booster quotes, there is a raft of pre-announcements. Microsoft says that there is an 810-based Lumia on its way (the current top of the range Lumia 930 uses a Snapdragon 800), while Rick Osterloh, president of Motorola Mobility, says: "The Snapdragon 810 processor will enable us to push the boundaries even further so we can continue delighting our customers with devices that give them new choices.”

This means we can expect something soon to replace the Snapdragon 801-based Motorola X. Sony Mobile similarly hints that the Z3’s replacement is in the wings.

Of course, none of this is surprising, but manufacturers are usually loath to talk about components and even more so when it comes to unannounced products. To have got them to do so just a (short) month before announcements at Mobile World Congress means there is some serious politicking going on.

There are rumours that the Snapdragon 810 can overheat, and that its RAM controller can knacker processor performance.

By getting customers to say they are happy with the chip, Qualcomm is keen to point out that there are 60 things using the 64-bit ARMv8-compatible Snapdragon 810 in the pipeline.

A fulsome quote from Lei Jun, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Xiaomi, could be construed as being aimed at Samsung: “We make every effort to bring the newest and most innovative technology to our enthusiastic customers, drawing on the best in the industry. Our collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies on the Snapdragon 810-powered Mi Note Pro provides us the ability to deliver more performance, features and user capabilities to a mobile device than ever before.”

Of course, Samsung might have other reasons for not using the Snapdragon 810. It could be to keep Qualcomm keen on pricing for the next time around – and 820 specs are already leaking – or, more prosaically, it might be that because Samsung Electronics is under severe margin pressure and wants to use its own Exynos chipset.

All of this is a shame because the Snapdragon 810 has amazing specs – four Cortex-A57s and four Cortex-A53s – and probably doesn’t need a PR effort which says both nothing and everything to defend it. ®


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