Connecting the dots? Samsung Galaxy S6, Gear VR and overheating Snapdragons
The Samsung Gear VR is the best piece of virtual reality kit you can buy today, but it has one problem. The Note 4 that sits inside of it, acting as its brains, needs a fan blowing on it continuously to avoid overheating. We have some ideas about how some recent reports might all tie into this.
According to a recent report from Bloomberg, Samsung is dropping Qualcomm as its processor supplier for the Galaxy S6 because the Snapdragon 810 had some overheating concerns. Today a report from Re/Code appears to echo that, as Qualcomm confirmed that it lost a "large consumer" that decided to drop the Snapdragon 810 from an upcoming flagship.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips are the industry standard. Doesn't it seem odd that, despite full support from rivals like LG, the 810 would suddenly have an overheating problem? Wouldn't Qualcomm's quality control have snuffed out any overheating problems long before its chip was set to arrive in high-end flagships?
But wait. Another report today, this one from SamMobile, indicates that Samsung is going to support the Gear VR headset with the Galaxy S6 (and the rumored Galaxy S Edge, which is expected to bring the Note Edge's curved display to a smaller form factor).
If our reasoning isn't yet obvious, here goes: maybe the Gear VR is taking on a higher priority on Samsung's roadmap (for good reason, as it's a mesmerizing glimpse into the future). Maybe the Snapdragon 810 is just fine for regular smartphone use, but, like the Snapdragon 805 in the Note 4, leads to overheating while inside the Gear VR. Maybe Samsung's own Exynos chips manage overheating much better while inside the virtual reality headset.
Just an unprovable theory? You bet. The Gear VR is, at this point, a pretty niche product, so this sounds like an extreme move. It's also entirely possible that Samsung simply decided the latest versions of its own processors were ready to be used in LTE markets (it's been using them in non-LTE regions for years). And this is also assuming that a) these sources are all correct, and b) the unnamed Qualcomm partner is indeed Samsung. Loads of "ifs" and "maybes" here.
But, on the other hand, we doubt Samsung is taking this partnership with Oculus VR lightly. Many of us see virtual reality as "the next big thing," and the Korean company would surely love to use it to sell more Galaxy flagships – and vice versa.
Right now consider this pure speculation, but food for thought nonetheless. We'll likely find out more at Mobile World Congress in early March, where Samsung is expected to announce its next flagship (and perhaps a new version of the Gear VR?).