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Image gallery: Tearing down Samsung Galaxy S3

Posted: 25 Jun 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Galaxy S3? 4G? LTE? smartphone? DRAM?

Samsung's journey in the smartphone landscape is an interesting one. No more than three years ago, Samsung was considered a minor player in the handset industry, lagging in sales and stature behind companies such as Nokia, Motorola and Research in Motion. When Apple entered the fray with the introduction of the iPhone, eventually taking over as the leader in smartphone sales, many industry insiders felt that Samsung would never be able to make up the ground to be considered influential to the market.

Samsung itself understood the uphill climb that it was facing. Instead of waving the white flag and exiting the market, Samsung chose to jettison its approach to design and immediately ceased being complacent with its R&D model. Samsung re-invested heavily into creating a new line of handsets that were not only aesthetically-pleasing, but would feature higher-end technology and features not found in their competition.

The result of this new approach yielded the Galaxy line of handsets. These Android-based smartphones resonated with consumers, especially the first flagship handset, the Samsung Galaxy S, which was released in 2010. With sales approaching 24 million units, it was the beginning of Samsung's dominance of the smartphone market. By the end of 2011, according to Gartner Inc., Samsung was now the undisputed global leader in handset unit sales, representing 40 percent of all Android smartphone sales alone.

According to Information Week, a UBM partner, unit sales of just the Galaxy line of smartphones by Samsung have totaled close to 60 million units, the bulk of which is the Samsung Galaxy S (24 million), the Galaxy S2 (28 million), and the recently released smartphone/tablet hybrid, the Galaxy Note (7 million).

It should come as no surprise then that Samsung's latest high-end Galaxy phone, the Galaxy S3, has drawn the interest of consumers, designers, engineers and market analysts. What would Samsung have up its sleeve for its newest smartphone?

UBM TechInsights purchased the first set of Samsung Galaxy S3 handsets from Europe. This is important as we were to later find out that the North American versions of the S3 would not feature a quad-core processor but a dual-core processor instead. At this time, the explanation given by Samsung is that this decision "optimizes" the Galaxy S3 for peak performance on America's 4G and LTE networks.

Package photo of the Exynos Quad. The device features four ARM A9 cores as well as four Mali 400 GPU cores.

Samsung keeping it in the family
On the European version of the Galaxy S3, Samsung utilizes its proprietary Exynos brand of processors. In this case, Samsung selected the quad-core Exynos 4212 (which was at one point named the Exynos 4412 and then finally renamed the Exynos Quad). According to Samsung, this processor was manufactured at the 32-nm node, similar to that of the latest version of the Apple A5 processor found in the 3rd generation Apple TV or 2nd generation iPad 2. This new Exynos processor uses power gating across all four cores, which apparently reduces power consumption when not in use.

This isn't the first case that Samsung has taken a different path in the implementation of Exynos processors. The Samsung Galaxy S2 was initially released using the Exynos 4210 dual-core processor, but later variations of the same handset saw the Exynos replaced with Texas Instrument's OMAP4430 or, in the case of T-Mobile 's version, Qualcomm 's APQ8060 dual-core processor.

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