The Hardware Lottery Continues: Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ Varies Between UFS 2.0 and UFS 2.1
A few weeks ago, it was reported that Huawei undertook some controversial decisions with the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus. In a nutshell, the Huawei P10 and the P10 Plus could feature any combination of LPDDR3 or LPDDR4 for the RAM and eMMC 5.1, UFS 2.0, or UFS 2.1 for the storage. This essentially made purchasing the device a hardware lottery as you’re paying the same price for the device as anyone else, but the device you bought could be objectively worse than someone else’s P10/P10+.
The hardware lottery phenomenon has now apparently popped up in the most talked about flagship of this year so far – the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+.
Apparently, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+ could feature either UFS 2.0 or UFS 2.1 for the storage. Promotional material from Samsung early on boasted of UFS 2.1 for its storage, but eagle-eyed XDA Senior Member lch920619x spotted the silent removal of mentions of UFS 2.1 for storage on Samsung’s official webpage for the devices.
Users are reporting significant variance in sequential read speeds on their devices. The UFS 2.1 devices get sequential read speeds hovering between 700-800 MBps, while those with UFS 2.0 for storage would get sequential read speeds in the range of 500-600 MBps.
There is no clear and fool-proof way as of yet to identify which of the two you would be getting before purchasing the device.
However, XDA Senior Member lch920619x does mention of ways to conclusively ascertain the same once you have the device in your hand. Using a Terminal Emulator app, users can enter the following command:
This would return the exact Model Number of your flash memory chip. You can google the model number to get more information on the storage. lch920619x got the model number ‘KLUCG4J1ED – B0C1’ on his SM-G950FD [Exynos-based Samsung Galaxy S8 Duos] which turns out to be a Samsung-made UFS 2.1 memory chip.
The lottery situation arises with Toshiba-made memory chips. If the model number returned is along the lines of ‘THGAF4G9N4LBAIRB’, then you are lucky enough to get a device with UFS 2.1. If however, the model number returned is ‘THGBF7G9L4LBATRC’, then your device comes with UFS 2.0 storage specification.
You can also check the Sequential Reads on your device using AndroBench, but checking the Model Number is the most accurate method of finding out exactly what you have inside your device.
Interestingly, the same situation exists for the Huawei Mate 9 too, as far as UFS specifications go. Twitter user @yao_yunfan shared a handy reference table listing and differentiating the model numbers as found on the Mate 9 which was also advertised as a UFS 2.1 device. The model numbers listed on the table match the ones reported by Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ users, indicating that the UFS 2.1 crunch that forced Huawei’s hand on the P10, P10 Plus, and the Mate 9 also affects Samsung on the newest Galaxy flagship.
Speculation and anecdotal evidence suggests that the hardware lottery on the Samsung flagships relates only to some Snapdragon Galaxy S8 devices, but this could be incorrect. Both the processor variants of the Galaxy S8+, the bigger and more expensive of the flagships, utilize UFS 2.1. Exynos variants of the Galaxy S8 also seem to be using UFS 2.1. Since Samsung has not responded with an official statement on the issue, it appears prima facie that Snapdragon S8 users may be the ones with the objectively inferior device.
How bad is having UFS 2.0 instead of UFS 2.1 for your device?
Theoretically speaking, the difference between UFS 2.0 and UFS 2.1 objectively exists and is large enough for phone OEMs to tout the superiority of one over the other.
Practically speaking, most average users and even smartphone enthusiasts will not be able to distinguish between the performance of UFS 2.0 versus UFS 2.1, unless they compare both side-by-side. In real life and daily usage, UFS 2.0 will unlikely be the bottleneck in your flagship experience. Had Samsung gone for eMMC 5.1, the memory specification would have had a much more profound and noticeable impact on your experience. Thus as a silver lining, Samsung is only juggling between UFS 2.0 and UFS 2.1 for now.
At the end of the day though, if you paid flagship prices for the subjectively “best smartphone” of the year, then you deserve to get nothing but the best. Especially when UFS 2.1 was touted as a feature and mentions of it subsequently removed silently, it shows an OEM’s opacity in dealing with their customers. That’s just our opinion.
What are your thoughts on the hardware lottery trend that we now also see on the Samsung Galaxy S8 flagships? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!