The big Android phones coming out in the second-half of the year figure to enjoy a bit of performance boost, as Qualcomm has taken the wraps off the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. The new system-on-chip succeeds the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, delivering both performance and power efficiency improvements over the existing silicon.
We won't have to wait long to see just how the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 performs in some of the best Android phones. Qualcomm says its latest top-of-the-line silicon should arrive before the end of June, appearing in new devices in a matter of weeks.
Qualcomm didn't call out specific handsets, though it says an array of smartphone makers including OnePlus, Oppo, Xiaomi, Asus and Motorola have committed to using the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. More significantly, the timing of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 announcement today (May 20) lines up with the launch of some other major Android devices slated for the latter half of 2022.
That's when we're expecting to see Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4, both of which should be coming toward the end of summer. The predecessors of both phones were powered by the Snapdragon 888 so an upgrade to either Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset is likely for the latest Fold and Flip from Samsung. (Indeed, two weeks after Qualcomm announced its new chip, leaked specs for the Galaxy Z Fold 4 suggest that the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 will power Samsung's foldable.)
The Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 isn't the only Qualcomm ship of note to make its debut at an event in China today. Qualcomm also showed off the new Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset, which borrows some features from the 8 Series. That new system-on-chip is aimed at premium phones that aren't quite flagships but would benefit from the advanced gaming features Qualcomm includes in its 7 Series offerings.
Here's a closer look at what the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 and Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 deliver to upcoming smartphones.
Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1: What to expect
If you're familiar with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 that powers devices like the Galaxy S22 family (at least for devices released outside of Europe), expect more of the same with the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. You get the same 18-bit ISP capable of capturing images at 3.2 gigapixels per second, the Snapdragon Elite Gaming features that aim to bring console-style gaming to your phone and the 7th Gen AI Engine Qualcomm introduced late last year.
So what's changed? The Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 has more oomph under the hood, with a CPU capable of peak speeds of 3.2GHz. That translates to a 10% increase in performance over the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. GPU clock speeds are 10% faster, too.
The real benefit to the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 may be its improved power efficiency. Qualcomm says that both the CPU and GPU on the new silicon consume 30% less power. That accounts for a 15% improvement to overall efficiency at the system-on-chip level that can help you "do all the things you love longer," according to Mike Roberts, a Qualcomm vice president of global product marketing for mobile platforms.
By Qualcomm's math, those power savings mean you can expect an additional hour of gaming with Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1-powered devices over phones that came out earlier this year with Qualcomm's then-leading silicon. Video streaming can last an extra 80 minutes and WeChat video calls over 5G can run 25 minutes longer with the extra power.
Better power efficiency would certainly be a welcome development in light of what we saw from some Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-powered phones. The Galaxy S22 models all turned in less-than-average times on our battery test when we put those devices through their paces. We hope to see improved battery life with Samsung's upcoming foldables, assuming the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 both adopt the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. After all, power management has been a problem for foldable phones, so every bit of power savings a chip can muster would be welcome.
Snapdragon 7 Gen 1: What to expect
Qualcomm likes bringing features from its 8 Series chips down to the 7 Series, and that's what's happening with the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1. the 7th Gen AI Engine makes its debut with the Snapdragon 7, and there's a 14-bit triple ISP just like there was on the Snapdragon 888. Features like 200MP image capture and deep learning face detection are supported as well.
But it's gaming that should really help the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 stand out, as Qualcomm is bringing select features from its Elite Gaming program to the platform. These include Adreno Frame Motion Engine, which upscales graphics by double framerate without an increase in power consumption, and Qualcomm Game Quick Touch for more responsive touch controls in games.
All told, Qualcomm says the Adreno GPU delivers a 20% improvement in graphic rendering over the Snapdragon 778G, previously the top dog in the 7 Series family. Phones like the Honor 50 and Motorola Edge 5G UW used the Snapdragon 778G.
The system-on-chip includes a Snapdragon X62 modem, which can support data speeds of up to 4.4 Gbps. Snapdragon Sound Technology included with the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 includes gaming-friendly audio features like anti-howling echo noise cancellation for reducing feedback when you're gaming near your teammates.
Like the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 is shipping this quarter and should find its way into new phones very soon.