To make it clear from the very beginning, this could be Fake News. Chinese sources claim, as reported by XiaomiToday.com, that HMD Global, the exclusive licensee of the Nokia brand, and Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi signed a strategic partnership under which HMD will use Xiaomi’s Surge S1 chipset in one of its upcoming Nokia-branded smartphones.
This is not the first time a Chinese manufacturer is mentioned in the context of entering into strategic partnerships with Nokia. Every time a new phone is ready to be launched, Chinese phone maker Meizu starts the rumor mill that Nokia is either licensing its camera tech to Meizu, or, more recently, that the Nokia 6 will use Meizu’s OS and technology. That’s a clever, but unjust way to promote your devices.
Back to Xiaomi. They seem to be a more mature company than Meizu, and it’s fair to say that this rumor didn’t come from Xiaomi directly, but from internet forums. The claim’s been made that an upcoming Nokia mid range device will use the Xiaomi Surge S1 chipset. So far, no Geekbench entry or rumor ever mentioned Surge S1, in contrary, we know that HMD is testing Nokia-branded phones with Snapdragon 660 and 835 platforms.
The Surge S1 comes with 8 Cortex A53 cores with 4 x 2.2GHz + 4 x 1.3GHz and MaliT860MP4@800MHz GPU. In a detailed test against Snapdragon 625 and Mediatek P20 that was made by XiaomiToday, the Surge S1 is on the level of Snapdragon 625. The conclusion goes as follows:
Although, you might rank the SoCs with Antutu benchmarking, that’s not the proper way. Snapdragon 625 gained the last position when it came to GPU and 2nd in performance. But, it’s the best heat efficient, energy saving SoC among the three. Plus, it has the most advanced 14nm process node in mid-range chipsets. Whereas, Xiaomi Surge S1 gained the last position concerning CPU and heat dissipated. But it topped GPU test and durability test with a huge gap. If Xiaomi Surge S1 would have used a 16nm or 14 nm process instead of 28nm and the games would be optimized with the SoC, it would have easily beaten Snapdragon 625 and even MediaTek P20 as well. Better luck next time Xiaomi Surge!
Android Authority did a good piece about the Surge S1 when it was announced, and you can check it out here.
I personally think HMD should stick exclusively with Qualcomm, because it’s a well-known and respected brand. I understand that’s good for a Company to have more suppliers, because of the leverage over price negotiations and logistical capabilities. Also, brands like MediaTek tend to offer their chipsets at a lower price, thus being the clear option for low end devices. The Surge S1, however, is currently only to find in the Xiaomi Mi5c, that retails for about €300 according to GSMArena.com, so I don’t know if the chipset is that affordable to ditch Qualcomm for it.
All in all, this is a rumor and should be treated as a rumor. I personally don’t think this will happen, but I didn’t believe HMD will use MediaTek’s chipsets either. If it comes to be true, maybe the Surge S1 powered device will be a China exclusive or maybe the successor of Nokia 3 will have that or the next generation of this chipset next year.
We contacted HMD for an official comment about this rumor, but at the time of writing this article HMD didn’t respond. We will update the article with official statement when or if HMD responds.