As self-proclaimed Samsung fans (and as folks who have spent the years using and writing about its products), we have something of a soft spot for the Korean juggernaut. We've had a lot of positive things to say about Samsung, and we've also had a lot of negative things to say. Still, whenever the company messes up, we tend to give it another chance.
But how many chances does a company get before its fans turn on it and it realizes that the love of the fans has boundaries? Life is not a fairytale, after all, and when you spend your hard-earned money on a product, you expect the best experience possible. And you certainly expect to get the same product as customers in other countries, especially when you're spending hundreds of dollars on something.
For those buying Samsung's flagship Galaxy smartphones, things have not been so great over the last few years. Well, at least for those buying those phones outside the US or China. Yes, we're talking about the whole Exynos saga that has unfolded over the years, revealing Samsung's incapability to make smartphone processors and chipsets that are as good as the competition's, namely Qualcomm.
Exynos chips used to be excellent, until they weren't
For the first decade or so, Samsung's Exynos chipsets were excellent, and they never gave us any cause for complaint. But since 2018, the quality of the Exynos brand has been on a downward spiral.
Even when Samsung has made a chip that's not messed up (like the Exynos 2100), Qualcomm has shown that its Snapdragon chips are better, and since Samsung uses Snapdragon chips for flagship phones in markets like the US and China, those in other countries have not been pleased with the fact that they have been getting the short end of the stick.
Things came to a head last year, when Samsung's new Exynos 2200 chip, the first to be born from its partnership with AMD, failed to impress. The chip was technically sound, but it seemed that most of the software-based issues were exclusive to the Exynos-powered Galaxy S22 models.
Samsung used the Snapdragon chip everywhere except Europe last year, but that Snapdragon chip wasn't as great as expected, either, because it was manufactured by Samsung Foundry instead of TSMC (yes, both Samsung's semiconductor and foundry divisions have been failing to compete these last couple of years).
Thankfully, Samsung realized that things had reached a point where it could no longer ask customers to use a flagship phone with an Exynos chip and decided to go all in with Qualcomm's Snapdragon this year. And it didn't just use a Snapdragon chip in all markets – Samsung and Qualcomm worked together for a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 specially optimized (and overclocked) for Galaxy devices.
The partnership had us dreaming about a future where Samsung would continue to skip the Exynos chip for its flagships, at least for the next few years, but rumors have put a damper on our excitement. Samsung is reportedly hoping for an Exynos comeback as soon as next year, and the Galaxy S24 lineup could be powered by the Exynos 2400 chip in some markets.
Naturally, our initial response to these rumors was one of disappointment, even though nothing is confirmed at this time. But as we thought more about it, we realized that perhaps Samsung really could have something special to show us next year, considering it straight up cancelled the use of an Exynos chip on the Galaxy S23 series and brought itself a full year to try and get back to its glory days.
Samsung can't just give up making Exynos chips, but why should customers continue to care?
And there's also the fact that Samsung can't just stop using its in-house chips, because it has huge semiconductor and foundry divisions that it can't just shut down. Plus, if Samsung's own smartphones don't use its chips, then companies who rely on Samsung chips and its manufacturing capabilites could end up losing trust as well. Considering Samsung saw a whopping 95% year-on-year profit drop this year, that really isn't an option, is it?
But if it's not an option for Samsung to just give up, accept that it can't beat Qualcomm (or TSMC), and start giving customers the best experience possible by exclusively using Snapdragon chips everywhere, why should customers care? Again, realistically, Samsung can't just give up, but unless it manages to finally fix things next year, why should we continue to support it?
For many of us, Samsung has already lost. Anyone who has used a Galaxy S23 series phone will realize just how much of a slap in the face it would be if Samsung went right back to using Exynos chips next year and isn't able to maintain a similar user experience.
Yes, the next flagship Exynos chip could be amazing (again, the extra year the company is taking to develop it could help). But as people who are in the business of telling others why they should spend money on Samsung's flagship phones, as customers ourselves, and with the global economic downturn making everything so expensive, we don't think we have it in us to hope — or care — anymore.