The most powerful phones you can buy today are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, but Qualcomm makes mobile platforms in a variety of price points and power levels. Only Series 8 and Series 7 platforms got the new “generation 1” designation, but today the company unveiled the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 and Snapdragon 4 Gen 1. The announcement comes just a day before Apple announces its flagship mobile chip, the A16 Bionic.
These new Qualcomm Snapdragons will power mid-range phones and super-cheap devices, respectively. To understand the difference, the current OnePlus Nord N20which costs about $300, uses a Snapdragon 6-series chipset, and the Nord N200which costs about $200, uses a Snapdragon 4-series chipset.
Qualcomm advertises a number of new advantages for these Gen 1 platforms over the older generation, but it’s really up to the manufacturers to implement all the benefits. For example, the Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 can take photos up to 108MP, but that only matters if the phone manufacturer includes a 108MP sensor and the appropriate camera hardware and software. The Snapdragon 4 platform can now do the processing work as long as the phone can capture the image.
Analysis: Why are we getting new Snapdragons tonight?
Tomorrow Apple is expected to announce the Apple iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max with a new A16 Bionic chipset. The new Apple iPhone 14 will have to live with the existing A15 Bionic. Clearly, Qualcomm sees an opportunity to strike.
By releasing new hardware for cheaper phones, Qualcomm is effectively pointing out that new, even cheaper Android phones use new Qualcomm chips with new features, while only the newest and most expensive Apple device gets an update this year.
Google must also update its new tensioner chips this year, which is expected to debut in the announced Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro phones. However, rumors suggest that next year Pixel Tablet can see last year’s Tensor chips. This makes sense for a midsize tablet device, but would add fuel to Qualcomm’s new Fire chipset.
Apple is nonchalant when it comes to the update cycle, often taking more than a year to update the external designs and internal components of their phones. We’ve long seen device makers like Samsung and Google take advantage of their slow pace with multiple smartphone releases a year. Finally, we’re seeing chipmakers playing the same game.