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The Snapdragon 460 could be a game-changer for budget phones

It's the first time Qualcomm brings "performance" cores to processors made for the low end.

Published onJanuary 21, 2020

Snapdragon 460

Qualcomm announced three new chipsets today, offering Wi-Fi 6 capabilities and polished camera credentials, for starters.

These processors are the Snapdragon 720G, Snapdragon 662, and Snapdragon 460. The former two chips are par for the course, being variations of the Snapdragon 730G and Snapdragon 665 respectively. But it’s the latter processor that looks poised to shake up the industry.

The Snapdragon 460 marks the first time that Qualcomm has brought so-called “performance” cores to the 400 series, using four Cortex-A73 cores in concert with four efficient Cortex-A53 cores.

Far more power in cheap phones

This is a big deal because the Snapdragon 400 series is meant for lower mid-range devices and below. This chipset family can usually be found in sub-$200 phones, such as the Moto G6, Nokia 4.2, Redmi 8 and 8A, vivo Y series, HUAWEI Y series, realme C1, and Alcatel 3.

By introducing more powerful (albeit older) CPU cores to the Snapdragon 400 family, the Snapdragon 460 is opening the door for sub-$200 phones to make massive performance gains.

Whether you’re navigating through system menus, loading apps, browsing the web, or using the camera, you can expect a big difference, in theory. In fact, Qualcomm claimed a 70% performance increase over the Snapdragon 450 (which is equipped with eight weaker Cortex-A53 cores, like many other 400-series processors).

The Snapdragon 460 will bring a new level of power to cheap phones.

But the Snapdragon 460 also offers the higher-end Snapdragon 665’s Adreno 610 GPU, which should result in a claimed performance boost of 60% compared to previous Snapdragon 400-series hardware. This means budget-conscious mobile gamers can expect a much smoother experience and support for more advanced titles and emulators. So those looking for a smoother PUBG experience or hoping to play less demanding games in Dolphin are in for a treat.

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The new processor also offers an 11nm manufacturing process, which is a minor improvement over the 12nm Snapdragon 450. Still, the smaller manufacturing process means we can expect better power efficiency with all these gains.

It’s unclear if Qualcomm’s arch-rival MediaTek has an answer for the Snapdragon 460 right now, as we don’t know if the new Helio G70 is aimed at the Snapdragon 400 series or the Snapdragon 600 and 700 families. But we can likely expect a lower-end response in the coming months, presumably under the Helio P or A series.

The only real downside to the Snapdragon 460 is that it’s only expected in phones by the end of the year. So you might want to hold off on upgrading from your cheap Redmi, realme, Galaxy J, or HUAWEI Y-series phone for now, because we’re in for a big leap (but a long wait).

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