Qualcomm’s grip on the Android chipset market may wane in the face of growing pressure from MediaTek on the one hand and phone makers looking to create their own chips on the other, but this is undoubtedly still v a major player when it comes to flagship Android chips, and the next Snapdragon is probably no different.
The company clearly knows that it needs to fight to maintain its market share, and as part of this has already confirmed the rebranding of Snapdragon, which hints at a completely new name for the future flagship.
Other leaks are already hinting at the architecture of the chip, while early manufacturers are teasing their plans for Qualcomm’s next flagship. Here’s everything we know so far.
When will the next Snapdragon be unveiled?
The Snapdragon 898 will likely be announced at this year’s Snapdragon Tech Summit. It is confirmed that the event will take place from November 30 – December 2and the chip will likely be announced during the keynote on the first day – although full details may have to wait until one of the last days.
What will the Snapdragon flagship be called?
I already mentioned that there is a slight ambiguity in the name of the chipset. So far, the leaks have diverged, although there is at least a general consensus that the model number will be SM8450 – a reasonable jump from last year’s SM8350 – and its internal codename is apparently “Waipio”, after a Hawaiian valley and village.
Just a week before the announcement of the chip, Qualcomm unveiled a rebranding of its Snapdragon lineup that includes dropping the three-digit naming system that has been used so far, including for last year’s Snapdragon 888. That rules out the possibility of calling it the Snapdragon 895 or 898, two of the longest running rumors.
Instead, the Snapdragon chips will adopt a “unique series and generation number,” which sounds similar to the company’s computer chips – where the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 is coming soon.
The company has yet to confirm the actual name of the new flagship phone, but Ice Universe did earlier in November. predicted that the chip will be called Snapdragon 8 gen1.
This is pretty much in line with Qualcomm’s new brand guidelines – so while it’s not official yet, we think it’s safe to say this will be the name of the next Snapdragon chipset. Qualcomm uses an uppercase ‘Gen’ and adds a space in its computing chips, so the ‘Snapdragon 8 Gen 1’ may be formatted more accurately.
Which phones will use Snapdragon 8 Gen 1?
It would probably be faster to list the major phone companies that will not will release the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 phone, not the ones that will: obviously Apple; Google as its move to in-house silicon production for the Pixel 6 is likely to continue this year; and Huawei as it is still restricted by the US trade ban (although we can see it uses the 4G-only version of the chip).
Any other phone company you can name is likely to use the chip in at least one new phone from 2022, with Geekbench leaks already revealing the chip in an unnamed Vivo phone and a Samsung phone (likely a Galaxy S22). Samsung also plans to use this chip in the Galaxy Tab S8 series.
The Redmi K50 Pro is rumored to use it as well, while the Xiaomi 12 series will almost certainly support this chip as well, since last year the Mi 11 was the first phone announced to use Snapdragon 888.
A Lenovo spokesperson has also already confirmed on the Chinese social network Weibo that there are plans to release the SM8450 phones under both Lenovo and Motorola brands, the first of which will launch in 2021. Digital Chat Station Statements that whichever Motorola phone is, it will be one of those to be released this year, and perhaps will coordinate with Xiaomi who is the first to announce the 8 Gen 1 phone.
What are the specs of the next Snapdragon?
It’s clear that the specs of Snapdragon are far from accurate, but some key details are starting to elude.
First, the chip is expected to be built using the 4nm process technology, which is an update to the 5nm form factor used last year. This should mean increased energy efficiency and productivity. Leaker Ice universe says the chip will be manufactured by Samsung, with competitor TSMC taking over the production of the next “+” model, which usually launches in six months.
In any case, the architecture should be based on the latest Armv9 standard. Evleaks predicts the following components:
- Kryo 780 processor
- Adreno 730 GPU
- Spectra 680 ISP
- Integrated Snapdragon X65 5G Modem
The processor usually gets the most attention. The usually reliable source of leaks, Digital Chat Station, predicted specific kernels as follows:
- 1 x Cortex-X2 @ 3.0GHz
- 3 x 2.50 GHz
- 4 x 1.79 GHz
That looks pretty likely – not least because those exact clock speeds are listed on the Geekbench 5 listing for a Samsung phone that is supposed to contain a chip codenamed taro. The listing also mentions the Adreno 730, although oddly enough, the processor version is referred to as ARMv8, not v9.
It’s also pretty much the same as MediaTek’s recently announced competitor, Dimensity 9000, although Dimensity is slightly faster with its X2 clocked at 3.05 GHz and its three performance cores at 2.85 GHz.
However, there is still some uncertainty about clock speeds. First, Ice Universe claims they saw 8 Gen 1 with X2 core clocked at 3.09GHz – faster than the numbers above.
Second, we also saw another Geekbench 5 listing with the same taro chip codename. This is for an unknown Vivo device, and the Adreno 730 is also mentioned, but with lower clock speeds: 2.42 GHz for the main core, 2.17 GHz for the large cores, and 1.79 GHz for the small cores. Of course, it might just be a prototype underclocked, but that means we still have a little bit of guesswork about the exact cores to expect.
One note on both of these tests: the scores are low. Don’t go into too much detail, as these estimates will come from prototype devices early in testing – hence the different clock speeds – and so it is likely that the final product will be much more powerful.
The icy universe has general he claims these are more definitive Geekbench 5 results for 8 Gen 1 with 1200 single-core and 3900 multi-core. That would be a little – though not much – faster than we’ve seen from any 888 and 888+, but still lags behind Apple A15 Bionic.
And the last wrinkle concerns the sharpness of the chip’s camera. WinFuture’s Roland Quandt says the new camera module is internally codenamed “Leica1” – a reference to a well-known camera manufacturer that also gives its name to the camera technology in Huawei phones.
He cautiously emphasizes that there is nothing definite here, but that at least implies a partnership that may see Leica lend its camera expertise to the Snapdragon ISP’s imaging capabilities.