Android overheating issues are widespread and likely to get worse

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra back on desk

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

TL;DR

  • Arm’s designs may be partially to blame for Samsung and Qualcomm’s overheating problems.
  • There may be a solution, but it won’t be easy to achieve.

Samsung has been in the news for throttling its phones, but the underlying issue is far more widespread and likely to get worse.

Samsung admitted to throttling apps, although it said the reason was to keep phones from overheating. There may be more to Samsung’s claim than some originally thought, and it may not be entirely the company’s fault. According to reports, the blame may rest with the underlying Arm design that Samsung and Qualcomm’s flagship processors are based on.

Unlike Intel, Arm doesn’t manufacture its own chips. Instead the firm designs processors and licenses those designs to any interested company. Qualcomm and Samsung are two of Arm’s biggest clients, with the two companies using Arm’s designs in their respective Snapdragon and Exynos flagship processors.

Interestingly, Apple’s chips seem unaffected, despite also being based on Arm designs. The industry experts believe Apple and Arm are able to better tune the processors for use with iOS. In contrast, Samsung and Qualcomm are saddled with the task of making their chips work with a variety of device manufacturers and versions of Android, making it much harder for those processors to be as well optimized as Apple’s A-series or M1.

“iPhones are also based on Arm’s chip design but Apple and Arm tune the processors for use in the iOS,” said BusinessKorea’s industry source, adding, “On the other hand, Samsung Electronics and Qualcomm are developing application processors for use in multiple manufacturers’ various models and it seems that those processors using the design without any change is leading to problems.”

Hopefully, Qualcomm and Samsung will figure out an effective way to tune their designs to rival Apple’s energy efficiency. Otherwise, overheating phones and throttled processors may become the new norm.

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