The first android phone, HTC Dream G1 which was released in February 2009, was powered by Qualcomm’s MSM7201A. Clocked at 528 MHz, on top, the cpu had the first Adreno GPU too. Adreno 130 helped push every graphics detail on the 3.2” display on top of the pioneering android phone.
On the other end of the divide, Apple had earlier released its first generation of iPhone 2 years back in January 2007. The pioneer device of the iPhone line was rather incorporated with a Samsung 32-bit RISC arm CPU capable of reaching 620 MHz, but was underclocked down to 412 MHz. Unlike Qualcomm’s MSM7201A, it had a third party GPU in PowerVR that helped power the iPhone’s display.
This brief history of these two companies might mean many things to you (readers), but it is simple to note that, Apple has been in the game of making Touch screen devices before Qualcomm made the engine of the first android device.
Apple designed its first ever CPU, the A4. The A4 ran on the iPhone 4, first generation iPad, iPod touch (4th gen), and Apple TV. At this same year, Samsung released the critically acclaimed Galaxy S2 originally powered by Exynos 4210 which sold 40million units. 40 million units sold was a massive improvement on its predecessor’s 24 million shipped units. The Samsung galaxy S2 had so much demand that it forced Samsung into using Ti Omap’s mobile CPU, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon, and even Broadcom, as the Exynos 4210 wasn’t enough to fill the demands.
Samsung was the champion for Android, despite HTC pioneering the release of the OS. Many smartphone manufacturers joined in the adoption of android, and it was an operating system that fitted all kinds budget. The only chip maker who could fit the bill was Qualcomm. Qualcomm could make the budget, midrange and flagship SoCs, so this meant android phone manufacturers went to bed with Qualcomm. The only smartphone manufacturer that stayed with its CPU was Apple, not even Samsung which released its Exynos CPU for some markets and made use of Qualcomm for some other markets.
Apple always released 2 iPhones with different hardwares in every generation until the iPhone 7. Before the release of the iPhone 7, Apple had the habit of introducing a generation of iPhone which was followed by an improvement some months after. These improvements came with the “S” tag. This meant Apple had a lot of time to improve on its CPU and other aspects of its device while android manufacturers choked Qualcomm for CPUs for every segment of the market. It only meant that Qualcomm was busy with supplies while Apple was busy improving its CPU.
Qualcomm had so much on its hands. No notable competition on the android scene as long as SoCs were concerned because Android devices mostly all had the same internals. The competition was all about features on the android scene, but on the outside for Qualcomm, it was all about performance and efficiency Vs Apple CPUs! Qualcomm was the face of Android flagships and this meant Android flagships powered by Qualcomm SoCs fought for supremacy in a rivalry with Apple’s devices.
On the 10th of September 2013, Apple unveiled the first ever 64-bit mobile CPU which was slated to power the iPhone 5S which was launched on the same day. No one saw it coming, not even Qualcomm! It was a shock to the smartphone community. It became official that Apple’s 64-bit CPU was ahead of every mobile CPU in existence.
In a bid to catch up to Apple on its next CPU release, Qualcomm hurriedly unveiled far-from-finished Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 and 810 which both suffered from massive overheating and throttling. This forced Samsung to drop Qualcomm for the launch of Galaxy S6 and Note 5. Samsung had to give every region its in-house Exynos 7420. Due to the overheating and throttling the SD 808 and 810 suffered, this meant Exynos 7420 was better and able to maintain better performance without being throttled.
Qualcomm fell and Apple has been ahead in every CPU release since. However, in recent times, benchmarks have shown both manufacturers to be at each other’s throats in a neck and neck race. Samsung Exynos? In the doldrums since after Qualcomm recovered!