HTC just launched the One S in Taiwan. Normally Qualcomm’s latest and greatest Snapdragon S4 would be inside, but they put the S3 in there instead. There’s nothing wrong with the S3, it powers millions of 2011 flagship Android smartphones, but the S4 is a totally different beast. Despite having just two cores, the Krait architecture that Qualcomm developed in-house for the S4 is so damn fast that it beats NVIDIA’s quad core Tegra 3 in numerous benchmarks. That and because the S4 is built using 28 nanometer transistors, it provides far better battery life than the 40 nanometer Tegra 3. Case in point, Samsung’s 2012 flagship, the Galaxy S III, ships with an Exynos quad core processor in Europe and Asia, but the American version will have the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 inside because the South Korean handset vendor says: “The dual-core processor offers competitive speeds and performance as leading quad-core processors without sacrificing valuable battery life.”
So the more important question is what’s up with Qualcomm’s ability to ship S4 chips? Back in April the company published record breaking financial results, but they also admitted that they’re having trouble supplying handset vendors with the new S4. It’s technically not their fault since Qualcomm doesn’t actually make chips, they just design them and then ship the blueprints off to TSMC to do the actual fabrication. TSMC says they’re working their ass off to fix their supply issues, but they haven’t provided a timetable as to when that will actually happen.
We’re just speculating here, but we think Qualcomm is making sure that all the S4 chips they’re making end up in hardware that’s destined for the North American market. Why? Because the S4 has 4G LTE support, and 4G LTE isn’t really that big of a deal in the rest of the world. It will be at some point, maybe next year, but right now Europeans are just fine with 42 Mbps HSPA+.