Samsung reveals the Exynos 1280 processor and promises improved mid-range phones

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The Exynos 1280 debuted in the Galaxy A33 5G and A53 5G, the latter of which we have already reviewed. The 1280 moves to a 5nm process with two high-speed Cortex A78 CPUs and six efficient A55 cores, but we knew that from testing the A53. The latest update from Samsung’s semiconductor group focuses on the experiences you can enable with the new Exynos, some of which were limited to its flagship chips before. For example, the chip can do 120Hz at 1080p resolution, which is competitive with mid-range Qualcomm chips. And yes, it supports 5G as seen on the A53, and Samsung is really pleased about its “5G for all” angle. Although, 5G is not exactly a flagship-only feature anymore with options like the Dimensity 700. At least Exynos is catching up.

Exynos chipsets have been produced by Samsung for many years, some of which have been successful and others not so much. It experimented with bespoke ARM CPU cores for almost four years before abandoning the idea with the launching of the flagship Exynos 980 in 2020. In the last two years, there haven’t been any mid-range Exynos parts, leaving lower Samsung phones without a modern in-house choice. With the unveiling of the Exynos 1280 a few weeks ago, that changed, but Samsung has just now clarified what makes this mobile CPU unique.

Highlights

  • The A53 only has a 64MP primary camera, but the Exynos 1280 supports up to a 108MP sensor. That’s the kind of hardware we’re used to seeing on Samsung’s flagship phones, but such components are already coming down in price. It can also handle a quad-camera setup, which the A53 and A33 technically have, even though one of them is a near-useless depth sensor. The 1280 can also do 4K video recording at 30 fps, but that’s no surprise having seen the A53.

  • Samsung also promises smoother gaming performance with the chip’s Valhall-based ARM Mali-G68 GPU. Optimization for this architecture is still limited, but it should have better battery life than past designs thanks to a technology called Fused Multiply-Add (FMA), which can perform multiple floating-point operations in a single step. There’s an AI accelerator on board for local ML processing. It manages up to 4.3 trillion operations per second (TOPS), which is in the same neighborhood as the Hexagon DSP in Qualcomm’s 750G chipset.

There have only been a few Exynos 1280 phones so far, but no doubt we’ll see Samsung use this hardware a lot as 2022 continues. See below for the (mostly) full specs as posted by Samsung.

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