Power-hungry phone owners looking for the latest and greatest have finally been thrown a bone by chip maker Qualcomm. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is official, and heading to handsets within the next six months. And for those that aren’t quite so flush with cash, the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 is on the way for mid-tier devices.
The current Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is among the fastest mobile CPUs doing the rounds right now, with eight cores clocking in at 3GHz. You’ll find it powering a decent selection of the entries on our best smartphones list – but there’s always room for improvement. Qualcomm has upped the clock speed for the refreshed silicon, so it now tops out at 3.2GHz when thermal limits allow. The integrated GPU has also been given a 10% speed bump, which should translate to higher frame rates in even the most demanding mobile games.
Expect faster 5G downloads, with support for up to 10 Gbps speeds, and Wi-Fi 6E compatibility. The image processor can now handle 8K HDR video recording, and promises a 20% improvement to algorithm-based niceties like bokeh effects and face tracking.
Despite the extra grunt, Qualcomm also reckons users can expect 15% greater power efficiency than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Think almost another hour and a half of Netflix bingeing, or enough extra juice to squeeze in another round of Apex Legends Mobile.
Instead of Samsung actually producing the chips like before, Qualcomm has now enlisted the services of TSMC. The firm is working to get the new CPUs inside Asus ROG, Honor, Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme and Xiaomi phones, as well as all the other usual suspects. Expect the first handsets to land in the coming months.
Meet the new mid-tier
Qualcomm isn’t only about the flagships – it’s also bringing a new step-down model for the £400-£600 price category. The Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 is the first to take the firm’s new naming convention, indicating a switch in silicon. It’ll gradually replace current 7 Series chips, like the 778g seen in last year’s Honor 50 and the upcoming Motorola Edge 30.
A lot of the optimisations found in the pricier Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 have trickled down, with added support for QHD+ screen resolutions and 4K HDR video capture. It’ll also play nicely with 200MP camera sensors now. The built-in X62 modem isn’t quite as whip-crack quick as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, but it’ll still do 4.4Gbps over 5
Performance gains should be roughly 20% on the graphics front, rising to 30% for AI-centric behind-the-scenes tasks.
Plenty of manufacturers will be releasing phones running the new CPUs, with Xiaomi and Oppo among the first in line. The first should start arriving by Summer 2022.