After the Pixel 5, Google may use its own chipset to rival the iPhone

Google Pixel 4 and Google Pixel 4 XL
(Image credit: Future)

Google is working on its own chipset to power Pixel phones of the future and it could appear in a handset as early as next year, according to a report from Axios.  While the Google Pixel 5 may still use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 chipset, Google may strike out on its own after that in a bid to better compete with Apple’s iPhone 12

Google has made “significant progress toward developing” the chipset, per the report, which it’s designing in partnership with Samsung. The chip, codenamed Whitechapel, will allegedly be manufactured with Samsung’s 5nm tech and feature an 8-core ARM processor.

The chipset will also have hardware that’s optimized to work with Google’s machine learning tech as well as Google Assistant. While Google has reportedly already received working versions of the chips, it won't be ready until 2021 at earliest.

If true – and if Google is making enough progress to deploy the chipset in the coming years  – it could be a bit of troubling news for Qualcomm, which has produced the Snapdragon chipsets in the Pixel 4 and its predecessors, as well as the mid-range Pixel 3a

But the report goes on to say that future versions of the new chipset could be used in Chromebooks. That’s an interesting aspiration, if true, given how many of the best Chromebooks run Intel processors; but a Google chip could be tuned to Chrome OS in the same ways this current chipset sounds like it’s designed to push the Pixel line to new heights.

Don’t Pixels already have Google chips?

Google’s smartphones already run some custom chips designed by the tech giant, though these haven’t been system SoCs; instead, like the Pixel Visual Core that debuted on the Pixel 2, they’ve been focused on photography or, in the case of Google’s Titan M, security, as Ars Technica points out.

Thus, Google’s new main SoC could be just the next stage in building more and more of the silicon that goes in its Pixel phones. Given that Apple and Huawei have made their own chipsets for years, there’s obvious incentive to break from Qualcomm to build an SoC tuned to its own devices. And while Samsung may continue to run Snapdragon 865 on its top-end smartphones sold in the US, its phones everywhere else run its Exynos chipsets. 

The Pixel phones would still need to run some Qualcomm silicon, like its modems that are powering 5G phones. But while a majority of the best Android phones use Qualcomm's chipset, today's report suggests a further splintering of the smartphone hardware market is possible.

Via Droid Life

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.