Why is the Samsung Galaxy S4 / S IV Exynos 5 Octa Version so Rare?
The Samsung Galaxy S4 / S IV is an impressive smartphone in either its Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 version and its Exynos 5 Octa version. However, recent benchmarks of the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa have revealed that it is a lot more powerful than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 version. The question here is, why has Samsung made nearly 70% of its Samsung Galaxy S4 / S IV smartphones using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600? Why haven't they used just the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa?
Could it be LTE related?
Early analysis and brainstorming pointed towards the fact that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 / S IV seemed to indicate that it could be related to its LTE capabilities. Perhaps the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa couldn't handle LTE networks? However, this assumption was soon put to rest when news regarding the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa's LTE capabilities recently came to light. A tweet from the Samsung Mobile Chip department clearly stated that:
"the Exynos 5 Octa supports LTE and all 20 bands".
Maybe there's not enough to go around?
Like the HTC One before it, it seems that the most likely reason only a few Samsung Galaxy S4 / S IV smartphones are actually getting the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa processor is due to supply problems. Apparently Samsung decided to go for a more affordably way of designing the 28nm fabrication process that churns out the Exynos 5 Octa called gate-first. The current industry standard for 28nm fabrication as done by the rivaling Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is Gate-last which is harder to transition (and more expensive). However, the Gate-first process has been known to have yield problems which can be made worse the more complex the chip is. With 8 cores to contend with, the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa is probably one of the most complex chips around so the likelihood of these Gate-first yield problems happening were very high. The end result remains the same though, there just aren't enough Samsung Exynos 5 Octa chips to cover the demand.
Just wait and see
Samsung themselves probably did not foresee the sheer amount of demand for the Samsung Galaxy S4 / S IV which is why the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa is in such short supply. However, those buyers receiving the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 powered Samsung Galaxy S4 / S IV smartphone can still rest assured of a processor that can run rings around most of its other smartphone competitors. Samsung needs to consolidate its fabrication process and foundries for now, so later versions of the Samsung Galaxy S4 / S IV will probably be more readily available but we foresee that there might be a slight price increase for such smartphone versions as Samsung makes the transition to the more expensive Gate-last fabrication process.