Samsung mobile chief Shin Jong-kyun, center, presents the Galaxy Note, a combination of tablet computer and smartphone, in Seoul, Monday.
By Kim Yoo-chul
The alliance between Samsung Electronics and Qualcomm is strengthening after former opted to use the latter’s chips in its latest Android-powered Galaxy device ― the Galaxy Note.
On Monday, Samsung released the Note domestically. The device has a larger screen than a smartphone but smaller than a tablet.
Mobile chief Shin Jong-kyun told reporters that it has high hopes for the Note in the year-end shopping season, adding it will pave the way for the company to solidify its lead in the global consumer electronics market.
One interesting point is that the Note uses Qualcomm’s 1.5-megahertz dual-core mobile application processors (APs) rather than the in-house ``Exynos’’ system-on-chip (SoC) processor.
Samsung, the world’s biggest memory chipmaker, has been spending heavily on mobile APs. Unlike volatile memory chips, these are profitable as they are used to control entire computing systems, while the former are only used to read and write data.
Samsung is supplying its mobile APs produced at its plant in Austin, Texas, for Apple’s iPhones. It is investing more on APs to meet rising demand for high-end electronic products such as smartphones, tablets and TVs.
``The Note, which is already available globally, is using the 1.4-gigahertz dual-core Samsung Exynos APs. But for domestic customers, Samsung decided to use Snapdragon mobile APs offered by Qualcomm, which is interesting to see,’’ said an executive, requesting anonymity.
The rare decision is mostly because of the rising demand for ``smart’’ devices that support 4G-based Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile technology.
All South Korean telecom majors including SK Telecom and KT are expanding their 4G LTE networks nationwide as LTE is much better in speed than the current 3G.
``Mobile carriers in Korea are putting more focus on LTE networks in order to become more appealing to more users. If LTE services are not enough, then smartphone users are going to switch to another carrier that provides more subsidies and that’s why Samsung is using Qualcomm chips in the Note,’’ said another Samsung executive.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon mobile APs combine 3G and 4G LTE into one. The integrated chip looks ideal for Samsung as it wants to take advantage of the local 4G LTE market with the help of local carriers.
``It’s a strategic decision. All LTE smartphones that have been sold in South Korea are using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors. Korean consumers want LTE-backed digital devices,’’ added the executive.
Samsung separately denied speculation that its advanced mobile APs called ``Exynos 4212’’ are to be used in the Note as the company is still testing them.
``Some gadget geeks are ordering the Note with Samsung Exynos mobile APs from international websites as Exynos is known to be better in graphics processing than Snapdragons,’’ said an industry executive.
Samsung mobile chief Shin Jong-kyun said the company was aiming to sell as many as two million Notes to increase its share in the value-added smartphone and tablet markets.