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Samsung Electronics' recently unveiled Galaxy S III top-of-the-range smartphone has all chances to become Samsung's most popular advanced handset of all times thanks to rich functionality, high-quality screens and powerful hardware. But not all versions of the Galaxy S III are equally good: the U.S. version of the smartphone uses dual-core system-on-chip, not the highly advertized quad-core SoC.

Samsung will release its highly-anticipated Galaxy S III smartphone in the U.S. this month with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular services starting from $199. Exact pricing and retail availability will be announced by each of the five carriers in the coming weeks. Samsung specifically notes that the handset is "optimized for peak performance on the nation’s fastest 4G LTE and HSPA+ 42 networks". Unfortunately, in a bid to enable 4G/LTE in the U.S., Samsung had to throw away its own Exynos 4412 (quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 and ARM Mali 400MP graphics engine) application processor and install Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 system-on-chip. Apparently, it was impossible to install a specific 4G/LTE baseband chip into the Galaxy S III for the U.S., which is why the company had to sacrifice performance and capabilities in favour of faster networks.

"Carriers using 4G/LTE all have different network requirements, due to different frequency bands, as well as different 3G networks, like CDMA and GSM technologies," said Nick DiCarlo, vice president of product planning for Samsung's mobile division.

It is not the first time when Samsung changes application processors in different versions of its flagship smartphones. For example, different flavours of Samsung Galaxy S II-branded smartphones utilize Samsung Exynos 4210 (two ARM Cortex-A9 cores at 1.20GHz, ARM Mali-400MP graphics engine), Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 (two ARM Cortex-A9-like cores at 1.20GHz, PowerVR SGX 540 graphics engine), Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 APQ 8060 (two Qualcomm Scorpion cores at 1.50GHz, Adreno 220 graphics engine) and even Nvidia Tegra 2 (two ARM Cortex-A9 cores at 1.0GHz, GeForce LP graphics engine).

While the changes of SoCs and application processors do not necessarily affect user experience with basic functionality of smartphones, they do affect work of third-party programs. As a result, some programs will behave differently on different versions of the same smartphone. Generally, it is called fragmentation, something that Google Android-based handsets are often criticized for as the difference between various devices is just too significant and user experience is incosistent.

Dropping quad-core application processor from Android 4.0-based Galaxy S III generally means two things: four cores are not going to be utilized by programs shortly and affect user experience; when programs start to take advantage of four cores, users of U.S. version of Galaxy S III will not get any benefits like the customers in different parts of the world. Apparently, Samsung began to "fragment" its most anticipated smartphone ever less than a month after the initial announcement.

Tags: Samsung, Galaxy, 4G/LTE, Qualcomm, Snapdragon, Exynos, Google, Android

Discussion

Comments currently: 10
Discussion started: 06/07/12 02:47:14 PM
Latest comment: 06/13/12 02:05:31 PM
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1. 
Not so much on the CPU side, but on the GPU side this is a catastrophic downgrade for the Galaxy S III, so bad, that it should be refereed to as the Galaxy S 2.5 or the US version of the Galaxy R Style which has identical innards, or even just Samsung's take on the US HTC One Series (again, identical innards). I understand this NEED to have LTE, so this catastrophic downgrade is somewhat sensible for Sprint,Verizon and to an extent At&t. But the T-Mobile version should have used the Exynos 4412 Quad-Core as they don't have LTE, and the International Version works flawlessly on HSPA+ with T-Mobile (also with At&t HSPA+). This would have been a boon for T-Mobile as they would have had the opportunity to advertise the only TRUE(Quad-Core) Galaxy S III. So another opportunity HANDED to T-Mobile, flushed down the toilet.
1 0 [Posted by: rauelius  | Date: 06/07/12 02:47:15 PM]
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2. 
Reminds one of the other big co. Intel putting chips on the market which don't use their capacity as BIGGER is better even if the existing software can't use it. The USA auto co.s do it, It seems to be an American thing to have the biggest the most powerful engine even when it is totally useless. The Asian companies learn quickly and will win in the marketing stakes again.
1 1 [Posted by: tedstoy  | Date: 06/07/12 04:43:55 PM]
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3. 
Wow, just, wow....I love my 4g speeds but honestly the opportunity to have one of the very first hand held devices to harness the power of a QUAD-CORE PROCESSOR would have been magical!! And the loss in power for the GPU is probably going to be my deal breaker....the whole reason for me being absolutely obsessed over this device was because of Samsungs incredible ability to truly amaze me with the downright disgusting beauty of their screens and the fact that they always had very powerful internals throughout....and now....all theyve done is glorify the S2, which is a spectacular phone, however, I really wanted something revolutionary!! That was going to be my justification for the price tag associated...4G speeds are extraordinary, but I've been there, I know what thats like, and while I do absolutely adore the, once, great speeds of 4G...I dont think it's enough to justify completely destroying what was going to be the most revolutionary device of, at least, this year....maybe more! I really hope that if anyone with any real power sees this, they will maybe think a little harder about how to handle this type of situation. Now, even though we are all REALLY excited about this phone, it seems that it was Verizon's hastiness to shelf this phone that made it what it will now sadly be. I would rather wait another year for technology to catch up enough so that everything could be squeezed into one mind-numbingly extraordinary device rather than see another something that could have been be left on the drawing board once again simply because of Americas impatience for perfection to take hold.

It would have been fun to hold you, S3 that should have been, but now we wait again for the next supposedly "amazing" device to hit shelves only again to be disappointed by Big Reds idiocracy as well as all you other "big time" phone companies....make a device to be proud of...not one that you would have been proud of...or at least just leave the damned things alone when you have the opportunity to buy them....
0 0 [Posted by: graham809  | Date: 06/07/12 06:44:07 PM]
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4. 
This reminded me of the quad-core Tegra 3 vs the dual-core Snapdragon S4:

http://www.technobuffalo....s-qualcomm-snapdragon-s4/

http://www.phonesreview.c...gra-3-on-htc-one-x-video/
0 0 [Posted by: RtFusion  | Date: 06/07/12 09:13:34 PM]
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5. 
The Snapdragon is better in 95% of applications (if not more, if you want to count everything in the Google Play Store and see which chipset it runs faster on), and probably only 0.01% of the 7 million plus preordered Samsung Galaxy S3's will actually be running an application that requires the faster speed of the Quad Core Tegra 3.
0 0 [Posted by: MonkRX  | Date: 06/07/12 11:43:07 PM]
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It's the faster speed of Exynos 4412, and while Tegra 3 loses in a few benchmarks against Qualcomm S3, the Exynos wins in almost every situation, and by a large margin in some.
0 0 [Posted by: cosminmcm  | Date: 06/08/12 12:31:16 AM]
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6. 
I do not agree with this article at all! The Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 is very fast; it is build on 28nm versus 32nm for the Samsung chip they drop. Please, are you trying to sell this stupid idea of 4 cores being better that two for a smartphone? Where are the applications that really use 4 cores? Can anybody tell me the names?

This S4 Qualcomm chip is a REVOLUTION!
0 1 [Posted by: RamonPV  | Date: 06/08/12 10:35:41 AM]
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0 0 [Posted by: cosminmcm  | Date: 06/08/12 11:22:52 AM]
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7. 
I like the price considering its samsung's latest and greatest. Removing of the quad core for the s4 soc actual solidified my decision to get this phone because I simply do not need 4 cores in my phone to listen to music, make calls, play the occasional game , and browse the internet.

my 3gs is a brick compared to this sianara apple, hello ics/s3
0 0 [Posted by: veli05  | Date: 06/08/12 12:01:36 PM]
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8. 
I sooooo wanted the Quad Core. I have the Galaxy S2 and gave it to my son so I could get the Galaxy S3; now I have to get it back from him. The S3 without the quad core is just an OS and screen enhancements of the S2. I can't justify spending that much money for small enhancements. The current S2 out scores all phones out there in my opinion.
0 0 [Posted by: gtabme  | Date: 06/13/12 01:38:34 PM]
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