05/07 Update below. This post was originally published on May 5
In a remarkable move, Samsung has been caught publicly testing a potentially game-changing new Galaxy smartphone. Picked up by SamMobile, Samsung has been logging benchmarks on GFXBench for its first Galaxy smartphone to use a custom AMD Radeon GPU and the headline numbers are extraordinary.
- 138.25 frames per second (fps) in Aztec Normal (the Snapdragon 865’s Adreno 650 GPU hits 53 fps)
- 58 fps in Aztec High (the Adreno 650 GPU manages 20 fps)
Yes, Samsung’s AMD-powered smartphone chipset is delivering circa 2.5x the performance of the fastest Android chipset on the market. It’s also enough to blow away Apple’s A13 used in the iPhone 11 line-up and the new 2020 iPhone SE. Yes, the A13 is a 2019 chipset, but it’s hard to imagine Apple bridging this gap based on the anticipated release of this new Samsung hardware.
05/06 Update: significant new tests from Anandtech have further hammered home why many Samsung fans should wait for this new Galaxy powerhouse. The site discovered that, unlike the cheaper OnePlus 8 Pro, the company’s premium Galaxy S20 line-up is unlikely to ever be able to use its maximum resolution at its heavily advertized 120Hz refresh rate. This is because the range uses just a single MIPI lane to the DDIC (display driver integrated circuit) which limits bandwidth and throttles the ability of the phones to provide both a 120Hz refresh rate and a QHD resolution (yes, this includes the $1,400 Galaxy S20 Ultra). In contrast, the OnePlus 8 Pro, despite being hundreds of dollars cheaper, uses a dual MIPI interface. Consequently, given the root of the problem has now been exposed, it now looks extremely unlikely that Samsung can ever fix this with software.
05/07 Update: in a surprise move, Samsung has unveiled a further major innovation for its future Galaxy devices. The company has been unveiled as a principal member of the NFC Forum’s newly announced Wireless Charging Specification (WLC), a wireless charging specification that works over NFC and can also be used to enable devices to communicate between one another. WLC is similar to the Wireless Powershare feature on Galaxy flagships, which allows smartphones to charge other devices. The big difference is WLC would be an industry-standard and Samsung is joined by Apple, Sony, Google and Huawei as being onboard. The standard currently works at 1W, meaning it is more about charging devices from smartphones than the other way around, but it could also lead to very compact, efficient new wireless chargers. With all the major players working together on this, the development is exciting but what the NFU Forum has not provided is a road map for its release.
And when is that? According to Samsung’s own roadmap, 2021. It is important to note that Samsung has not updated this time frame since it first announced the AMD partnership in 2019 but, given its Exynos 990 chipset fell woefully short of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865, the emphasis is clearly on Samsung to turn this around quickly. Moreover, 2021 will see Samsung launch the Exynos 1000 – and I suspect the significance of this number is not lost on the company.
So yes, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 does look tempting, especially with the company delivering a next-gen OLED display, faster memory and storage, all-new biometrics and a major S Pen revamp. But in 2021, the next Samsung Galaxy smartphone could be revolutionary.
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