Is Qualcomm losing its crown to other chip makers

Before the buzz about Galaxy S9 dies down lemme touch and share my thoughts on chips running on this handsets(exynos 9810) which according to benchmark tests beat the latest qualcomm’s high end chip snapdragon 845. Main point derived here is OEMs are closing on Qualcomm and are making chips tuned to give the chip maker some great competition, talk of Huawei’s Krin 970 it got some goid specs, Apple A11 is another story and lately xiaomi is in for the piece of the cake with their surge series, dont forget mediatek and their p-series which is now fully focused on midrange segment and P70 beats qualcomm’s snapdragon 660 and lastly intel is in the business too & seems everyone wants to grab this chunk of meat :meat_on_bone: in qualcomm’s mouth what remains for it to be fully conquered is one of these companies breaking its LTE modem prowess

Samsung has been using Snapdragon chips in the North American market since Qualcomm owns the CDMA patent and licensing those patents would be expensive.

Most of these CDMA networks (Verizon and Sprint) are being shut down though. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

There have been rumors about Samsung’s and Qualcomm’s deal.

  • Qualcomm is paying Samsung to use their chips. (Intel and Dell did something similar a few years ago)

  • Samsung has been throttling their Exynos line to match the latest Snapdragon chip because of some deal they have.

Someone from Reddit made a decent post about this a few months ago -

To understand whether Qualcomm is loosing, let’s first understand who makes the chips that are found on our smartphones:

Apple’s Ax-Series chips - Made by TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company)**

Huawei’s Kirin chips - Made by HiSilicon, which is fully owned by Huawei

Samsung’s Exynos chips - Made by Samsung Electronics

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips - Made by Samsung Electronics**

MediaTek’s MTK chips - Made by MediaTek Inc

**Note that not all the chips are made by these companies, however, the latest (past few years) ones have been made by said companies.

Now back to the issue at hand… To understand if Qualcomm is loosing, we will have to look at the market share. As per a report by Counterpoint, here is the smartphone processor marketshare as of Q3 2017:

Qualcomm Snapdragon - 42% (1% increase from the previous year)
Apple Ax - 20% (1% drop from the previous year)
MediaTek - 14% (4% drop from the previous year)
Samsung Exynos - 11% (3% increase from the previous year)
HiSilicon Kirin - 8% (2% increase from the previous year)

From this, yes, Samsung and Huawei seem to be growing at a faster rate than Qualcomm, but this can be attributed to these two companies using their own chips in more of their smartphones than they did before. I still think Qualcomm is king.


Am trying to forecast here like wen companies sees the benefits of using in house chips and investments in manufacturing plants i think Qualcomm will loose it and besides Qualcomm has been bribing to have its chips and modems in smartphones so its a matter of time

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If anything, MediaTek should be more worried than any other player in that space.


If I may chime in a bit about these SoC’s, guys do you know that most major SoC platforms like Snapdragon, Exynos, Kirin, and MediaTek have an ARM cpu at the core? ARM is a British semiconductor company that develops ARM Cortex processors and licenses it out to companies like Qualcomm with a bit of headroom to tweak various parameters of the CPU to make it work like they want. As it turns out, Qualcomm is a bit better at how they design and optimize their SoC but companies like Samsung, Meizu, and Huawei caught up some time ago.

The only thing holding MediaTek back is the use of lower quality components because they have to keep production costs low. Apple chips perform way better than those used on Android because their apps all use native code hence better performance. Also, Apple puts a massive amount of cache memory on their CPU’s which helps performance quite dramatically.

There are certain part of the SoC’s that these companies can claim to be their own. For instance the modems that Qualcomm use for their competitive edge in North America. Qualcomm bought the Adreno GPU from AMD in 2008 so they haven’t actually developed anything truly theirs for a while. They just buy other companies and develop products from the acquired tech. Another major GPU brand is Mali which is also developed by ARM.


Hey Peter, I would like to know why android OEMs never implement their SoC like Apple does… I mean, they all get their instructions set from ARM but, why cant they just slap a 2MB cache in there (A11 BIONIC has 8mb L2 cache while snapdragon 845 has 256kb L2 cache memory, SERIOUSLY), less cores but more powerful etc to achieve high performance like Apple’s A series?? What limits them? I dont understand this cuz companies like qualcomm should be good at designing transistors and fabricating them than Apple cuz that’s their specialization, right…? :thinking:


Qualcomm has a big challenge, it has to design generic processors that will fit everyone. Apple designs processors then design software and hardware around those processors thus everything is in sync.

This is the reason Samsung and Huawei took the route of designing their own and rumours have it that Google is looking in that direction as well.


Sure, looks like they’ve much to do in the market or maybe they want to sell/partner the company to one of the others


The cost of putting that much cache in a CPU is prohibitive but Apple has the budget for it because of their high profit margins. High end Android phones like Samsung S9 also have the budget but they choose to put it into various things rather than spending disproportionately on specific components. The performance hit for directing funds to other components is one they are willing to live with and consumers barely notice the difference. In fact it works in the manufacturer’s favor because focusing on something that consumers can actually grade in terms of performance like cameras improves the company’s status.

Apple has always been criticized by people for things like poor camera performance, low screen resolution and quality, lack of multi-tasking etc. but Android flagships are well rounded because they spread their spending better than Apple and don’t have quite as high profit margins as Apple. At the risk of sounding like an Apple hater, I must mention that the standards demanded by Android users are way higher than Apple fans. Because of this difference, it is quite difficult to compare the two because it’s depends on which paradigm you conform to.

Luckily for Android users, the competition is so intense that companies have to up their game just to remain relevant. Apple bears no such burden. As a result, the need for Android OEM’s to make sure that all components of their phones perform well makes it hard for them to excel at any one part. As you mentioned, the A11 BIONIC has massive amounts of cache but the phones it is used in like the iPhone X receives tons of complaints regarding things like unresponsive screen, buzzing speakers, green lines on the screen, etc.


Who’s ever complained about any of those things on an Apple product?

Apple using old tech and marketing it as revolutionary. That I’ve heard.
Apple using strange resolutions. That I’ve heard.
Apple using low quality tech. That I’ve never heard. Especially when it comes to screens and camera modules.

Profit margins are one factor perhaps in their chips being as fast as they are in comparison to the competition, but not the only one, or even the most significant. Their vertical integration, and the fact that Qualcomm blundered in their response to the A7 back in 2013-14 (causing them to be one to two generations behind) are the only major causes that they probably have the lead in performance that they do today. Profit margins only explain why it would be difficult for any other retail chip maker to follow Apple’s strategy without incurring losses.


Which phone do you own?

Someone sees something wrong with apple??? Man apple is near perfect no security issues no hanging after a specific period of time apple got better camera and now this year they are giving us a dual sim phone and if u wanna know apple is better ask yourself why every single smartphone out there copies apple i see no flaws in Apple and its a fact android fan boys has to live with

Well, not 100% perfect but I get what you are saying.

Their phones have a premium price but the after sale services are unmatchable. You can buy an iPhone 7 today and Apple will still be supporting it 2 years from now.

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true. alafu android OEMs wanakuaga limited na the many devices they make… kila company kwa mwaka iko na simu 15… by two years they have 50 different devices they are supposed to “update.” Lakini hio si excuse, ju ata oneplus ka ni issue ya many devices they can manage updating ata oneplus 1 to oreo (android go, if chipset imepitwa na wakati :sweat_smile:)


I do not expect them to update every phone they have released but the flagships ni lazima. These manufacturers launch 2/3 flagship phones every year just like Apple. There is no excuse.

I saw an interesting comment on an Android Authority article a few weeks ago from someone claiming to be an ex-Qualcomm employee.

For full disclosure I worked at Qualcomm for 24 years but no longer work there: The fault here lies 99% with the handset manufacturers and telcos. As a SoC vendor, we would have support for a new version of Android a few DAYS after Google released it. We worked through weekends and holidays to get this done. (Also fu to Google for always releasing their code just before Christmas.) We had that code turned around to our manufacturer’s HOURS after that. They would then sit on it for months or years. Don’t blame QC, blame LG, Samsung, Motorola, Verizon, AT&T, Oneplus etc. and all the shitty little “value ad’s” they want to cram in.

Also, Google wouldn’t give us early access, or we would have turned it around even faster.

This is not the first time I have heard about this.


I see… so its just some kind of laziness and strategy to ensure their flagships are bought every year?? damn…

I wouldn’t say laziness. As you had said earlier, these Android OEMs have too many smartphones and thus they struggle to keep them updated.

I have seen people throwing shade at OnePlus but their devices, from the OnePlus 3 are all on Oreo. I think they are a good exmaple of what OEMs should do.

This would have been understandable if they updated their top tier phones too.

As I mentioned earlier, I do not expect every phone they have released to get updates but the flagships are a must. They all release 2/3 flagship phones per year just like Apple.

They are 100% lazy in my eyes.

Google is trying to fight this trend with their Android 1 program and Pixel phones. At least Android 1 devices have guaranteed OS updates for at least two years. Samsung and other companies have started to give way years or higher hardware warranties. I just hope they release newer Android versions sooner because their turnaround times leave a lot to be desired.