Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 could arrive earlier than expected to help Android phones fight iPhone 15

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 may arrive surprisingly soon to replace the still new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and fight off the iPhone 15, says a new claim from reliable Weibo-based leaker Digital Chat Station (via NotebookCheck).

As DCS tells it, the Gen 3 chip will launch earlier in the year than the Gen 2 did, with phones using the fresh silicon starting to pop up in Q4. For reference, the Gen 2 chip arrived in November of last year, with the first models powered by the chip appearing in December, so we may get official news of the Gen 3 in October.

We've had one update to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 already in the form of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy. This offers a slight performance boost over the standard chip and is currently exclusive to the Galaxy S23 series.

An early non-exclusive update for the top Snapdragon chip could spell trouble for the iPhone 14 Pro and its A16 Bionic chip. The Gen 2 chip already beats the iPhone's silicon on some GPU benchmarks, so another generation of improvements could mean Android phones can finally catch up to the A-series chips' CPU or media processing scores. Check out our Galaxy S23 Ultra review and OnePlus 11 review to see what the Gen 2 chip can do. 

Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 vs A17 Bionic 

Of course, Apple isn't standing still, and it is rumored that the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max will sport a powerful new A17 Bionic chip based on a 3nm process. 

This chip is tipped to not only be faster, but the A17 Bionic could be as much as 35% more energy efficient than the A16 Bionic chip. This is according to a report from Bloomberg about Apple partner TSMC. If true, the iPhone 15 Pro series could offer a leap forward in battery life, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max is already one of the longest lasting handsets around, landing on our best phone battery life list. 

We'd assumed that as with previous Snapdragon 8 series chips, we'd get a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 2 mid-life update to the current chip partway through this year, in time for expected phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.

But if Snapdragon designer Qualcomm decides to pivot to the next generation early, perhaps we'll see this part of the strategy change, too. It could release the Plus version early, allowing more phones in on the enhancements, or just skip over it, meaning phones like the Galaxy S23 will keep their performance lead over newer devices.

With only a single source making this claim, we'll have to wait for more leakers to make statements to judge if Digital Chat Station has it right. If they are, then the end of the year could be a more exciting time for the best Android phones than usual.

Richard Priday
Senior Writer

Richard is a Tom's Guide senior writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.