Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy explained — what sets the Samsung Galaxy S23 apart?

Samsung Galaxy S23 lineup
(Image credit: Samsung)

With the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S23 series we now know that all three models will feature a new variant of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. Developed in partnership between Qualcomm and Samsung, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy will power the Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips can be found in the majority of the best Android  phones but Samsung usually relies on its own Exynos chipsets outside the U.S. With the S23 however that has changed, as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy will be available in all regions. 

So what exactly does the globally-available Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip have to offer? Read on for a breakdown.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 vs 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy 

The headline numbers for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy are all about speed. Its primary clock speed has jumped from 3.2GHz to 3.36GHz while the GPU clock speed has broken the 700Mhz mark, going from 689MHz to 719MHz. This should result in a faster-performing phone, capable of handling more intensive apps smoothly, and more at once. But the 8 Gen 2 is already a top performer, so any difference could only be minimal. 

Samsung is also claiming the Galaxy S23 Ultra will feature the fastest mobile graphics on the market (supported by leaked pre-release benchmark tests) including ray tracing as found on the latest generation of games consoles and GPUs. The basic Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 also offers ray tracing, but Samsung's promising its version will be faster.

Thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, the Galaxy S23 can also boast extra camera functionality with the Cognitive ISP feature. This offers "real-time semantic segmentation" meaning that the camera can detect and distinguish between different objects, for example between hair and clothing or skin. Coupled with the 200MP camera on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, this could result in one of the best camera phones we've tested. In truth, outside of the camera and gaming upgrades, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy is likely to be far from revolutionary. 

We've not tested the Galaxy S23 fully yet, but we're excited to see how it performs in our benchmarks against other Snapdragon 8 Gen 2-powered phones. Check back soon for the results.

Will there be a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Plus for Galaxy? 

Qualcomm usually refreshes its silicon with an improved "Plus" mid-generation upgrade but we can't say how this trend could continue now Samsung has its custom version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

Were Qualcomm to release a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Plus, then it would likely be even more powerful than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, going by the leaps between previous regular and Plus Snapdragon 8-series chips. That could mean Android phones launched later this year will outperform the Galaxy S23, even with its enhanced chip.

Last year, Samsung used the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 in the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4, showing it’s interested in using the latest silicon when it's available. Perhaps with the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5, expected later this year,  they could use a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 2 for Galaxy chip to continue Samsung's special relationship with Qualcomm.

We may soon see the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 arrive to replace this chip, earlier than we'd expected.

Andy Sansom
Staff Writer – VPN

Andy is Tom's Guide Staff Writer for VPNs and privacy. Based in the UK, he originally cut his teeth at Tom's Guide as a Trainee Writer (go and click on his articles!) before moving to cover all things Tech and streaming at T3. He's now back at Tom's Guide to keep you safe online, and bring you the latest news in VPN and cybersecurity.