How much is too much for a Galaxy S Ultra phone? The Galaxy S23 Ultra, Samsung's current flagship in this lineup, already starts at $1,199. There's no indication that we're in for a hike this year which means that the Galaxy S24 Ultra will also start at $1,199. Fingers crossed for that!
However, can you see yourself paying beyond that for a flagship in the Galaxy S series? You might need to and not because Samsung would be pocketing that extra money. The price hike would be the result of something you wouldn't immediately think of.
More expensive chipsets lead to more expensive phones
Samsung uses both Exynos and Snapdragon chipsets in its Galaxy S lineup. It went all Snapdragon this year as the entire Galaxy S23 series is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy across the globe. That's slated to change next year as the Exynos 2400 will be used alongside the as yet unannounced Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy in the Galaxy S24 series.
We recently discussed how this is a major obstacle for Samsung. It's also one of the reasons why it keeps the Exynos around as a hedge because otherwise, Qualcomm has more leverage when Samsung goes to buy high-end chipsets. If Qualcomm charges more for them, it eats into Samsung's margins, so the company can either make less margin on each unit sold or raise the price.
It might have to do that in 2025. Qualcomm has already confirmed that the Oryon CPU cores of the Snapdragon X Elite will be coming to Snapdragon mobile chipsets in 2024. If Samsung secures that Snapdragon chipset for its 2025 phones, it would be featured on the Galaxy S25 series.
It's no secret that developing custom cores is an expensive endeavor. Responding to a question asked by one of the attendees during a Q&A session today, Qualcomm SVP Chris Patrick said that while custom CPU cores don't necessary need to be more expensive, they do enable Qualcomm to strike the right balance between power consumption, performance, and pricing. He added that Qualcomm does expect the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 to have a cost increase as the company pushes to achieve “astonishing levels of performance.”
Precisely how much Qualcomm charges its customers, that would be OEMs like Samsung, for chipsets is a trade secret. However, if it's willing to let it be known a year in advance that the next iteration is going to be more expensive, evidently its customers are going to have to pay more for those chips.
This means that if Samsung pays more for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4, it may have to raise prices or achieve efficiency elsewhere to not make the Galaxy S25 start at more than $1,199. This would potentially also move the needle on the Galaxy Z Fold 7 and Galaxy Z Flip 7, which if the current pricing holds, should also start at $1,799 and $799 unless a price hike is necessitated by more expensive chipsets as Samsung's entire foldable lineup is exclusively powered by Snapdragon chipsets.
Disclaimer: Qualcomm is hosting a large group of international media for the Snapdragon Summit 2023 from October 24-26 in Hawaii, including SamMobile. All opinions and analyses remain our own with Qualcomm receiving no advance preview or exercising any control over our coverage.