Why the South African Galaxy S8 is so much better than the US one

Not all Samsung phones are created equal.

A Samsung Galaxy S8 bought in the United States is different from the one you find in South Africa.

They look identical, but the beating heart of the devices – their system on chip – is very different.

In the US, Galaxy S-series devices are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platform. In South Africa, you will find Samsung’s Exynos chips in their flagship smartphones.

One reason for the different chips dates back to before the widespread use of LTE around the world. Verizon, the largest mobile network in the US, still uses a technology called Evolution-Data Optimised, or EV-DO.

EV-DO is an evolution of the CDMA2000 standard, and while Verizon is refarming its CDMA spectrum for LTE, the old standard remains in use.

Graphics and LTE support

This results in the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ in the US being powered by the MSM8898, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 platform.

In South Africa, the Galaxy S8 range runs on the Exynos 8895 Octa chip.

The Exynos has a Mali-G71 MP20 graphics processor, while the Snapdragon uses an Adreno 540.

Samsung’s chip has a slightly better LTE modem, supporting 5-band carrier aggregation (CA), while the Qualcomm chip supports 4-band CA.

Both claim maximum throughputs of 1,000Mbps down and 150Mbps up.

Early tests from Geekbench also show that the Exynos chip scores higher marks when tested for performance – as detailed below.

Specifications Galaxy S8 – SA Galaxy S8 – US
Chipset Exynos 8895 Octa Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Clock speeds 4x 2.3GHz & 4x 1.7GHz 4x 2.35GHz & 4x 1.9GHz
Graphics Mali-G71 MP20 Adreno 540
Process 10nm 10nm
LTE 1,000Mbps down / 150Mbps up, 5 CA 1,000Mbps down / 150Mbps up, 4 CA
Geekbench 4 – Single-core 1,805 1,314
Geekbench 4 – Multi-core 5,513 4,069

Both SoCs are made using Samsung’s new 10 nanometer manufacturing process, and on paper look almost identical.

The Exynos chip is octa-core, with four 2.3GHz cores and four 1.7GHz cores.

The Qualcomm chip is also octa-core, with four 2.35GHz cores and four 1.9GHz cores.

However, results from Geekbench’s Android charts show there is a performance difference between the chips.

  • Samsung’s Exynos 8895 scored 1,805 in the single-core Geekbench tests and 5,513 in the multi-core tests.
  • Qualcomm’s MSM8898 scored 1,314 in single-core and 4,069 in multi-core tests.

Geekbench 4 scores are calibrated against a baseline score of 4000, which is the score of an Intel Core i7–6600U. Higher scores are better, with double the score indicating double the performance.

Now read: Best Samsung Galaxy S8 deals in South Africa

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Why the South African Galaxy S8 is so much better than the US one