For years now, Samsung has been using a mix of its own Exynos processors — primarily in its native Korea and developing markets — and Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips to power its phones, but its next flagship phone may eschew the Qualcomm option. A report from Bloomberg this morning states that Samsung will be "dropping its use of a Qualcomm Inc. chip that overheated during the Korean company’s testing," with the part in question being the latest and most powerful Snapdragon 810 variant. If leaked pictures of the Galaxy S6 are to be believed, Samsung's next major smartphone release will be built using an all-metal back, which is likely to have contributed to the thermal challenges the company has encountered in its testing.
LG has already announced and is nearing the release of its own Snapdragon 810-powered smartphone, the curved G Flex 2, which has exhibited no such issues. HTC is also expected to use the 810 at the heart of its next One, which leaked pictures suggest will have a unibody aluminum shell just like its predecessors. Samsung hasn't done an all-metal handset before and its inexperience may now be showing in its inability to control the thermal emissions of a powerful new chip.
Exynos to the rescue?
Samsung has the rare luxury of being able to fall back on its own Exynos line of processors to make up for the Snapdragon 810's absence, however that would be only a partial solution. The reason Samsung hasn't been using Exynos exclusively up to this point is Qualcomm's superior LTE integration, which has forced Samsung to rely on its competitor for systems-on-chip for western markets. If Samsung doesn't revise the Galaxy S6 design or figure out some other way to use Snapdragons in its next generation, the result will be an unfamiliar spec battle among Android flagships in 2015: everyone else will likely stick with the 810 while Samsung pushes ahead with Exynos.
When reached for comment on today's report, Samsung issued the boilerplate response that it doesn't discuss rumors and speculation. A Qualcomm spokesperson wasn't immediately available to answer our queries, though Bloomberg has already obtained a "no comment" response from the chipmaker as well.