Back at the announcement of the Galaxy S III, many people were quick to note that Samsung disclaimed the availability of the Exynos quad-core processor powering the beast as contingent on certain issues of geography. And then we learned that, for reals, the US versions of the Galaxy S III would be shipping with Snapdragon S4 dual-cores onboard - the MSM8960 chipset, to be precise.


And that included T-Mobile's version, which many speculated (myself included) might be the only Exynos-packing Galaxy S III to make its way to the US of A. We thought this might be a possibility because T-Mobile doesn't have an LTE network, and won't have one that's really in place in any practical sense for another year plus. They're even further behind than Sprint.

So, it understandably upset a lot of T-Mobile customers when the news came down that the exact same piece of hardware everyone else was getting would be headed to America's pinkest carrier, as well. And the big question was why?

We have the answer, officially, from Samsung: Exynos 4212's radio doesn't support HSPA+ 42Mbps. We got this information straight from a Samsung representative with knowledge on the matter specifically, and they were emphatic that this was the reason for T-Mobile getting the dual-core Snapdragon S4 version of the Galaxy S III. It's very likely, actually, that T-Mobile specifically requested this specification - it's been pushing its HSPA+ network speeds stupidly hard in recent marketing campaigns.

So, there you have it. T-Mobile didn't want its Galaxy S III to be limited to a paltry 21Mbps network connection, so it decided it was better to give up Exynos and go with a Snapdragon instead. Sure, other minor considerations might have gone into this, but the answer we got was in no uncertain terms: it was all about the megabits.

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • RedPandaAlex

    Some day someone is going to have to explain to me something about the innards of smartphones and why processors can be incompatible with networks.

    • marcusmaximus04

      Basically, these aren't processors. They're System-on-a-chip's(SOCs). Basically, they include CPU, GPU, and baseband chips all within a single package, which makes communication between each of those more efficient.

      That's why the Exynos chip includes a Cortex A9 processor *and* a Mali 400 GPU and the S4 includes a Krait(Cortex A15 equivalent) processor and an Adreno(forget which version) GPU.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock


      • http://twitter.com/rauelcrespo rauelcrespo

         Adreno 220...the Same GPU used on the Sensation 4G....so in games, the Stripped Down US Galaxy S3 will be about 50% slower than the True Galaxy S III. If the US Galaxy S III used the Adreno 320, their really wouldn't be an issue, but using the archaic Adreno 220 takes the wind completly out of the sails of the US Galaxy S III. This move may be worse than when the TI 4460 with the Power VR SGX440 GPU was used in the Galaxy Nexus in lieu of the Exynos Dual-Core, from it's Galaxy SII stablemate.

        • Simon Belmont

          Actually, it'll be the Adreno 225. This is clocked at 500MHz instead of the 333MHz of the Adreno 220.

          It's not the Adreno 320, but it's not horrible. Cheers.

        • http://twitter.com/set_iroN SetiroN

          Is there even one game on the play store that can take advantage of the additional power? I don't think even enabling MSAA with CF3D makes any difference.

    • Guest

      To keep it simple...

      For a smartphone to work on a network, it needs a few things. First, it has to support that network's technology. T-Mobile has HSPA+ 42, which is backward compatible with HSPA+21 and 14. Second, it has to support the network's frequency. T-Mobile has deployed HSPA+ on AWS spectrum, and is working hard to get it on their PCS spectrum.

      AT&T uses HSPA+21, but never went 42. They deployed it on PCS only. So you can buy a phone that is AT&T, but it likely wont go over 21, and will likely only support PCS. T-Mobile does have their 2G network on PCS, so your phone will work in 2G only mode.

      As for processors... it is not the same as a PC processor. These little chips wrap up multiple components, like the cellular radio controllers, so the processor has to be tuned to support the right frequency and technology.

      The true solution is something like GOBI 4000. This powerhouse chip will support LTE, HSPA+, CDMA, GSM, etc and support all major frequencies, including Verizon's Sprint's AT&T and T-Mobile.

      • RedPandaAlex

        Well then I hope something like GOBI 4000 is going into the next nexus(es)

  • http://twitter.com/BroMonty Joe Montgomery

    I'd rather have a faster phone over a faster network any day. Even 21 mb/s is faster than my home internet, and I get by on that just fine.  I don't understand the obsession with LTE.

    • marcusmaximus04

      Eh, I'd prefer the opposite. The Cortex A15-equivalent dual core Krait processor in the S4 is more than powerful enough for every smartphone-pertinent use I've ever seen, and benchmarks close to and sometimes better than the Cortex A9 quad core in the new Exynos, besides.

      Doubling the data connection bandwidth > a slight occasional increase in a component that's hardly ever used, as far as I'm concerned.

      • http://twitter.com/set_iroN SetiroN

        Not to mention battery life and higher single threaded performance, which makes it faster in real world usage. In EVERY. SINGLE. CASE.
        Keep complaining over offscreen GLBench scores, real users will enjoy the better user experience and battery life of the S4, while playing actual games at the same identical 60fps you get on the almighty exynos.

        • Killa504killa

           Guess thats why Evo LTE is reporting the exact opposite? And the US s3 is reporting a downgrade in battery performance due to the s4 and LTE radio. Ill keep my unlocked S3 and 21mbps network performance thank you.

    • http://twitter.com/ericcamil Eric Camil Jr

      If T-mobile actually ever got speeds in my area even close to 21mb/s it would be worth considering is the additional speeds worth getting because they are available. Where I live, they aren't, I don't ever get close to 5mb/s on a good day. I'd rather have the option to go with quad core.

    • Killa504killa

       They want to be able to slap that 42mbps for marketing reasons right on the side of the box. I take faster phone over network anyday too. Sprint is averaging a whopping .02kbps in my area over 3g and 1.2mbps over the spotty 4g coverage. LTE is stupid and unnecessary at this time. HSPA+ would have been fine for the next 5-10 years. They are upgrading the networks to help us blow our caps quicker than ever for the overages. I don't need 100mbps down I would be happy if Sprint could manage 1mbps down consistently and give me an I5 in my phone. I would be happy.

  • http://twitter.com/mikeydangerous Michael Heller

    Getting the word directly from Samsung doesn't change the fact that we all knew weeks ago that this was the reason.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Please, share your source.

      • Josh Nichols

        The same source that gave us the reason why the SGSII didn't have an exynos processor. This has been known since the SGSII came out.

      • AppleFUD

        +Josh Nicholas
        and the same source that told us the T-Mobile Galaxy Note wouldn't have the Exynos and why — Samsung & T-Mobile.

      • Ruben

        "Getting the word directly from Samsung doesn't change the fact that we all knew weeks ago that this was the reason."  
        Yeah this article is about confirmation not new news. Mr. Ruddock hinted at this himself in a post on May 5th I believe. - http://www.androidpolice.com/2012/05/03/yep-its-pretty-likely-the-galaxy-s-iii-wont-have-a-quad-core-processor-in-the-us/I'll spare you the click, here is the quote - "One exclusion to this "rule" may be T-Mobile, who have yet to set out a timeline for their LTE network rollout. It seems exceptionally unlikely they'll have one rolled out in time to make launching the Galaxy S III with LTE a remotely feasible (or intelligent) option, and so they may instead opt for the 21mbps HSPA+ Exynos Quad version of the device, making them the sole carrier of the "true" Galaxy S III in the US."And in this article you write - "We have the answer, officially, from Samsung: Exynos 4212's radio doesn't support HSPA+ 42Mbps"You hinted that you thought that it would be HSPA 21, not 42 in the previous article and "We have the answer, officially", intimating that you thought this was the case before official confirmation. You were not the only one to have these suspicions, so I believe Mr. Heller is correct in saying this is more conformation of suspicions more than it is new news.  Good to hear it from the source though. Can't blame T-Mo but would have loved to see the quad. 

    • dancedroid

      agreed! they did the same with the Galaxy S II

    • AppleFUD

      Same reason the Galaxy Note on T-MO didn't have the exynos. . . old news. Samsung has never supported T-Mobile USA HSPA+ dual bands. Anyone that has been following the smartphone market in the USA should know this by now.

  • Drzboy7

    And that's why they didn't get the nexus

    • AppleFUD


      I have the unlocked Galaxy Nexus GSM and it works just fine on T-Mobile USA because it uses the TI OMAP 4 Processor which supports T-Mobiles HSPA+ dual bands.

      • Rudy Belova

        You realize that the Galaxy Nexus GSM does NOT have HSPA+ 42, it's ONLY HSPA+ 21 right?

        • AppleFUD

          Yes. . . I was referring only to HSPA+ . . . forgot about the 42mbps for a moment there when reading all the comments :)
          So yeah, Drzboy7 would probably be right then.

          • Rudy Belova

            Phew! Was hoping so. I didn't want to hear you got deceived or something when getting it. No biggie.

        • AppleFUD

          No. . . I knew what I was buying at the time :)

          21Mbps is just fine for the stuff I do via data — generally on WiFi 99% of the time and usually data is navigation and a few other things when driving about. At this point in time I prefer T-MO HSPA+ over LTE as my battery lasts more than four hours :)

          For my needs the GNexus on T-MO is an excellent device. I'm happy with it.

  • bedwa

    Using the mdm9k secondary modem for the dual channel 21.1 achieving 42.2. Makes complete sense.

  • ProductFRED

    I don't see why this is new; it was the same thing with T-Mobile's S2. 

  • Josh Nichols

    Wow I found you somewhere off of XDA!! What a great day! Hhaha

    • fixxmyhead


  • Josh Nichols

    Extra comment fail

  • fixxmyhead

    im still hoping they pull an AT&t and  make a quadcore variant couple months later

    also "They're even further behind than Sprint" 
    sprints network is garbage right now sorry to say it (data wise). tmo hspa 42 is pretty good and way better than sprints. besides there network is almost on par with LTE and its only gonna get better. at least tmobile will have hspa+ 42 or 21 for there backhaul while sprint will be stuck on shitty 3g (more like 2g or in some most cases 1g for there backhaul)

    come at me artem. lol jk

    • AppleFUD

      I've had friends bag on T-Mo for years but I've never had a problem and whenever we are traveling I've always had better connections than any of them. . . so, each their own I guess.

      • fixxmyhead

        maybe back then or they just didnt live in a tmo coverage area but the market has changed. sprint stopped rolling out there crappy wiimax while tmo has expanded there network. now there trying to roll out LTE but when both networks are done tmobile will have a better network cuz they will have HSPA+ and LTE while sprint will only have LTE

  • Geoff Baysinger

    My local cell networks? Not even able to do HSPA+ 21Mbps.

    My home DSL network? Top speed is 12Mbs/896Kbs. 

    My phone won't be ABLE to go over 21Mbps anywhere I have it ... so give me the better processor? Nope. I don't get a choice. Thanks again carriers!

  • bL4Ck

    1. open http://www.expansys.com/ and set UK or Germany
    2. import an international galaxy S3
    3. put in your tmobile sim card
    4. ???
    5. PROFIT!

    • henry zou

      We can only get 2G on international phones. Unless it's one of those pentaband phones.

  • Siypion

    Wow i love all the talk about, why this, why that. (joke) seriously samsung should just take the time to make two Exynos 4 chips its not like they did not know that the US of A uses LTE heck they had a full 2+ years to work that out *Cough hummingbird Couch*
    one of the smarter things to do for them is to work with Qualcomm and pit in work on a Snapdragon A8 Quad core chip. they can name is "Elision" and i would be happy with that.

    about the word Elision

    • marcusmaximus04

      A8? Why? The Exynos uses an A9 and the S4 uses the equivalent of an A15. Why go back to the vastly inferior A8 architecture?

      • fixxmyhead

        its not really A15 more like a hybrid of A9 and A15. i think it only uses A15 instruction set not the architecture but based off it

        any cpu nerds wanna chime in

        • marcusmaximus04

          AFAIK, Krait is basically an A15 as designed by Qualcomm. Similar, and based off the A15, but without them having to pay royalties to ARM. That was why I said "equivalent". That said, if I'm wrong, I'm open to being corrected.

          Benchmarks seem to vary widely in terms of whether the win in terms of performance goes to quad-core A9 vs. dual core Krait, so that'd seem to back up the idea that Krait is superior to A9 by a pretty large margin.

          • fixxmyhead

            me too if im wrong someone correct me but from what ive read its like a hybrid with A15 instruction set but not the full A15 architecture. and no i have seen benchmarks of the s3 and it gets in the  5200 to 5500 region in quadrant while the s4 gets in the high 4800 to 5000 area but thats with 1 gig of ram per the one X and S. right now the quadcore is better but idk if the extra gig of ram will push it over the top and squeeze out alittle more in quadrant to beat the exynos. we'll just have to wait a couple days hopefully tomorrow for someone to do a a vs test between the two

          • Simon Belmont

            The Snapdragon S4 Krait is basically A9, but with some "A15" DNA in it. It's not a full A15, but it's performance is still very good and it holds it own quite well against the Exynos.

            Full on A15's won't be out until later this year. Their performance should be markedly improved even over the current crop of quad core Exynos and dual core S4s.

        • Siypion

          sorry was typing that kinda fast as i was leaving out to get something to eat, just notice i typed A8 and not A9, but your point about the A15 is true to a point. just wish they would just make two chips so the Lte thing is not the issue for that phone not having a up to par processor. 

      • fixxmyhead

        i think this is for u

        "sorry was typing that kinda fast as i was leaving out to get something to eat, just notice i typed A8 and not A9, but your point about the A15 is true to a point. just wish they would just make two chips so the Lte thing is not the issue for that phone not having a up to par processor".  

  • http://twitter.com/fightcrazy Vinny

    I would rather have the Processor then the extra megabits. The phone with the Exynos Processor would be so much better, with the extra megabits DL speed that you get with the Snapdragon is almost nothing in real life experience. The Exynos Processor would have made that phone a freaken beast. Sometimes I wonder who is behind some of these decisions. They obviously don't know what makes a better phone. These kinds of decisions are what hurts a company and they don;t even realize it. The consumer is uch more educated then they realize. The phone will still sell but they blew the chance of a killer phone on T-Mobile. Could of been the only SGS3 in USA with the Exynos Processor. 

    • mark

       Its about benefit. You are right you will benefit more from the 4core Exynos than the LTE speeds. In my area Verizon LTE gets about 4mbps down I get 5-6 off of HSPA+. I would rather a better chip with 21mbps over LTE and a dual core. Thats just me though.

      This: T-Mobile. Could of been the only SGS3 in USA with the Exynos Processor.

  • Brico

    It is my understanding that none of the US variants will have a quad core chip but instead boost power with 2gb of ram instead of 1gb which is what the rest of the world got.

    So an issue with one of the carriers network did not ruin it for all of them. There has to be a production problem with those chips. we already know t-mobile is doing a soft launch of the device

  • Nitish

    Exynos 4212 SOC does not include a integrated baseband. It uses a Intel Wireless PMB9811X
    baseband and that baseband does not do DC-HSPA 

  • Robert Jakiel

    Personally I would have preferred the quad core Exynos.  Oh well...

  • http://twitter.com/rauelcrespo rauelcrespo

    Way to ruin the best chance at positively differentiating yourselves their T-Mobile. When I swap SIMs between HSPA+ 21 and HSPA+ 42 phones I see no performance difference. T-Mobile really flushed an opportunity to have the best phone in the US for a non-existent speed increase. What dumb-ass at T-Mo made that choice. I knew of 5 people I knew personally who would have switched to T-mo from At&t and Sprint, just for a Quad-Core Galaxy S III. Now they are looking at the HTC One X and EVO 4G LTE instead. Way to go Samsung and T-Mobile...you screwed yourselves.

    • J Rush

      *Way to go T-Mobile...you screwed yourselves.

      T-Mobile asked for the Dual core S4. And that's what they got. Samsung was willing to go quad, but you have T-Mobile to blame for that and no one else.

  • http://robert.aitchison.org raitchison

    They might as well say their network is HSPA+1billion, it doesn't matter as I'm lucky to get an EDGE signal a lot of the time.

  • VegasDude73

    Does anyone even get close to 21mbps? I know I don't. Those speed marketing ads all have little asterisks with disclaimers next to them. It's fluff... I live in Las Vegas where they tout it to be one of the first launch cities. Launched 21mbps back at CES 2011... guess what? I never got 21mbps, even when I was right next to a TMO radio tower station.

    • Pjcastaldo

      I regularly am reaching speeds over 25 mbs in Orlando on SGS 2!

  • Brfield

    Live on Tmobile's site right now. Those prices are insane.

  • GazaIan

    Wasn't this.... Obvious o.o

  • h_f_m

    I think if I ever even saw 21mbit on my phone I'd say this was an issue, but seeing as i've never seen over 5-7, it seems like a useless marketing ploy...

  • 1ofdakoolkidz

    What's the reason it cost more?

  • NoNeedForMonkeys

    There has also been much speculation that Samsung cannot get fair patent usage for Qualcomm's LTE porfolio. They have reportedly solved this issue in the 5000 series exynos  processor solutions, those are not expected to come to market till next year. 

  • NoNeedForMonkeys

    Then again, I have HSPA+ 21 service only in my area. I do not have any issue streaming netflix, watching youtube channels, and surfing the internet.  My current device is working on a mature data network that has amazing coverage and actually works everywhere I go.    I personally will be importing an i9300 just to have the quad core Exynos on my current network. 

    -good times