Back in February, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that Apple’s 10th anniversary iPhone would use a stacked logic board design to free up some internal space. It would help Apple increase the battery size in the iPhone 8. The advanced Substrate-like PCB (SLP) mainboards stack chips more tightly to reduce the space occupied by components. The upcoming Samsung Galaxy S9 will use a similar Substrate-like PCB mainboard to make more room for the battery.
What SLP means for Samsung Galaxy S9?
For a long time, the smartphone mainboards have remained roughly the same size even as the application processors continue to get smaller. As a result, there is little scope for increasing the battery size, especially as vendors are trying to make their phones slimmer. Using the SLP will make more space for the battery. The SLP will allow for thinner connections between key components such as the DRAM, NAND flash memory, and application processor.
Citing industry sources, ETNews reports that the switch to SLP with the Samsung Galaxy S9 will have a significant impact on component suppliers. It’s the first time Samsung is using SLP on its products. Two of the world’s largest smartphone vendors (Samsung and Apple) switching to SLP will leave many suppliers scrambling to catch up with the technological developments.
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Sources told the Korean publication that Samsung has started preparing for SLP production with four Korean PCB manufacturers including Samsung Electro-Mechanics. The suppliers are buying equipment needed to produce the new mainboards. Until now, the smartphone vendors have been relying on the high-density interconnect (HDI) mainboards. Compared to HDI, SLP has doubled the efficiency while reducing the width and total area.
Dongbu Securities analyst Kwon Sung-ryool told ETNews that SLP uses a new semiconductor package technology called Modified Semi-Additive Process (MSAP). Samsung’s latest move will greatly benefit the companies that already have the technology. Other mainboard manufacturers are expected to lose business. Out of the ten companies that currently supply HDI mainboards to Samsung, only four will be supplying SLP for the Samsung Galaxy S9.
Initially, only Exynos version will feature SLP design
Since only four of ten suppliers will be producing the SLP mainboards for Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S phone, Samsung might not be able to use the new technology in all of Galaxy S9 devices. Sources told ETNews that only the Exynos version would come equipped with SLP design. The Snapdragon variant will stick to HDI, at least initially because Qualcomm’s chips have “technical difficulties” with the advanced logic boards.
It doesn’t mean the Qualcomm version of Samsung Galaxy S9 will have a smaller battery than its Exynos counterpart. Sources told the publication that the Samsung would expand the application of SLP “once the initial introduction phase of SLP passes by.” The Snapdragon version of Samsung’s flagship phones is sold in Western markets while most Asian countries get the Exynos-powered version.
Galaxy S9 to use Y-OCTA display tech
Recent reports suggest that the Samsung Galaxy S9 would look similar to the current Galaxy S8. It will have the same screen size and the Infinity display as the Galaxy S8. However, it will be slimmer than its predecessor due to the new SLP mainboards. The Korean electronics giant will reportedly use Y-OCTA display technology on the S9, the same technology it used on the Galaxy S8.
Samsung is increasing the production of Y-OCTA screens to meet the massive demand. Y-OCTA combines the touch function and the display into a single manufacturing process. It makes the phones slimmer while reducing the production cost by as much as 30%. The use of Y-OCTA has led to a decline in demand for Touch Screen Panels. PCB manufacturers are expected to see the same trend as Samsung switches to SLP.
No in-display fingerprint sensor on Samsung Galaxy S9
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has told investors that Samsung won’t integrate the optical fingerprint sensor into Galaxy S9. It means the next year’s Galaxy S flagship will launch with a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, similar to the Galaxy S8. The first Samsung device to get the in-display fingerprint scanner will be Galaxy Note 9, said Kuo.
Samsung is in no rush to implement the technology into S9 because Apple has dropped the optical fingerprint sensor from its 10th anniversary iPhone 8. Both companies have been facing technical issues with the new fingerprint technology. Kuo noted that Samsung has ditched Synaptics, and will go ahead with Egis for the Galaxy Note 9 optical fingerprint scanner. Samsung and Synaptics had been working together for a long time on the technology.
The Galaxy S9 is rumored to run Qualcomm’s next-gen Snapdragon 845 or the new Exynos processor built using 7nm manufacturing process. Other expected features include 8GB RAM, 128GB/256GB of built-in storage, Android O software, dual camera system, and wireless charging. The Galaxy S9 will likely be unveiled at the Mobile World Congress next year.