In all honesty, we didn’t expect Samsung to use a Qualcomm SoC. Note that officially, Samsung doesn’t call the Snapdragon 600 by name but states that a quad-core Snapdragon SoC clocked at 1.9GHz would be used.
The Snapdragon 600 is the only chip in Qualcomm’s portfolio that fits the description. That same chipset is used in most of the competition; the HTC One, the ZTE Grand S, the Asus Padfone Infinity and the LG Optimus G Pro. But there’s a twist.
Samsung clocked the Snapdragon 600 all the way to 1.9GHz which is 200MHz (11.75 per cent higher) than the same model used in The HTC one. Based on the score of the HTC One, I would expect the Qualcomm-based Galaxy S4 to hit around 26,650 points on Antutu which would be 70 per cent more than the Exynos-based Samsung Galaxy S3 (clocked at 1.4GHz).
As for the international version of the smartphone that is expected to run the Exynos 5 Octa 5410, a 1.8GHz version of that SoC reached 24,984 on Antutu so I’d expect the lower-clocked version that powers the Galaxy S4 to top 22,200, assuming there hasn’t been any further tweaks and that benchmarks vary linearly.
In other words, a 19 per cent difference in clock speed translated into a 20 per cent performance difference (at least on Antutu), that means that if the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 was clocked at 1.6GHz, it would be roughly on par with the 5410 Octa.
As for the reason explaining the different clock speed, I can think of only one. The TDP (thermal design power) of the Exynos 5 Octa at 1.6GHz is very similar to that of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 at 1.9GHz, which means that they dissipate roughly the same amount of heat.
Both chips are built using 28nm manufacturing processes (Samsung produces its own while Qualcomm relies on TSMC) and it looks like Qualcomm’s power management features gives it the upper hand. Qualcomm’s Michelle Leyden-li told us back in January at CCES that Qualcomm wasn’t convinced by the big.LITTLE concept put forward by ARM to improve power efficiency and it looks like, at least for now, Qualcomm could be in the driving seat.
It’s also worth noting that Anandtech’s Anand Lal Shimpi mentions the fact that the A7’s are likely to be clocked faster than their bigger A15 counterparts (1.6GHz vs 1.2GHz) and that the clock speeds mentioned in the official spec sheet are for the A7 and not the A15 cores.
Check out our ongoing coverage of the Samsung Galaxy S4, from the very beginning until the launch (and beyond), including the rumours, the rehashed reports, the disappointments and the expectations.
Why not read the rest of our articles dedicated to the hardware within the Samsung Galaxy S4