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Qualcomm bolsters mid-range with four (kinda) new chipsets

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October 26, 2021
Qualcomm Snapdragon October 2021 chips resize
Supplied by Qualcomm

Qualcomm has launched Plus variants of its flagship chipsets for a few years now, starting with the Snapdragon 855 Plus and continuing on through to the Snapdragon 888 Plus a few months ago. Now, the company has announced four new mid-range processors, and two of them are Plus variants.

Snapdragon 778G Plus

Starting with the most capable chipset of the lot, the Snapdragon 778G Plus is a mildly upgraded version of the 778G found inside the Samsung Galaxy A52s and Motorola Edge 20. That means you’ve got a 6nm design with an octa-core CPU (4x Cortex-A78 and 4x Cortex-A55), an Adreno 642L GPU, and a Hexagon 770 processor for machine learning tasks.

Oddly enough, Qualcomm simply says that the Snapdragon 778G Plus has improved CPU and GPU performance but doesn’t dive into specifics. A quick peek at the older chip’s spec sheet reveals that the new processor’s CPU tops out at 2.5GHz versus the old SoC’s 2.4GHz. So the upgrades seem mild enough that you shouldn’t really notice a real-world difference.

In terms of camera capabilities, you’re looking at a Spectra 570L ISP and up to 192MP photo capture. You’re also getting either 64MP single camera support at 30fps, three 22MP cameras, or 36MP+20MP dual cameras.

Other notable specs include an X53 5G modem (supporting mmWave and sub-6GHz), 144Hz refresh rate at FHD+ resolution, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6E, and Quick Charge 4+ support.

Snapdragon 480 Plus

The other Plus chipset announced is the Snapdragon 480 Plus, picking up where the lower mid-range 480 left off. One notable upgrade is a 200MHz clock speed boost for the CPU, going from 2GHz in the Snapdragon 480 to 2.2GHz in the Plus chip. Otherwise, the only other upgrade we can spot is the move from Bluetooth 5.1 to 5.2.

More chipset coverage: Everything you need to know about Mediatek processors

The rest of the Snapdragon 480 Plus seems more or less identical to its predecessor. So expect an 8nm manufacturing process, an octa-core CPU (2x Cortex-A76 and 6x Cortex-A55), an Adreno 619 GPU, and an X51 5G modem with mmWave support.

Other features include a 120Hz refresh rate at FHD+ resolution, Wi-Fi 6, 64MP single camera capture, 25MP+13MP dual camera support, 13MP triple camera support, and Quick Charge 4+ capabilities.

Snapdragon 695

The Snapdragon 695 succeeds the Snapdragon 690, found inside the OnePlus Nord N10 and Sony Xperia 10 III. And this seems to be a bigger upgrade for the most part than the aforementioned Plus chips.

More specifically, the CPU clock speed enjoys a boost from 2GHz to 2.2GHz, while the Snapdragon 690’s Adreno 619L GPU is swapped out for the slightly better Adreno 619 part. Qualcomm is claiming a 15% CPU boost and a 30% GPU boost respectively. We also get an upgrade to Bluetooth 5.2 from the previous chip’s 5.1 support, as well as a 6nm design versus the older chip’s 8nm process.

Finally, the Snapdragon 695 has a different image signal processor, supporting up to 108MP photo capture, triple 13MP cameras, 25MP+13MP dual cameras, and 120fps/720p slow-mo. By comparison, the Snapdragon 690 supports 192MP snapshots, 16MP+16MP dual cameras, and 240fps/720p slow-mo.

You can also expect a Snapdragon X51 modem, 120Hz refresh rate at FHD+ resolutions, Wi-Fi 6, and Quick Charge 4+ support.

Snapdragon 680

The last new processor to be revealed by Qualcomm today is the Snapdragon 680, and it’s the only 4G SoC of the lot. Despite the name, this seems like a successor to the budget Snapdragon 665 chipset rather than a sequel to the Snapdragon 675.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the Snapdragon 680 is that the CPU and GPU seem to be almost identical to the Snapdragon 665. Qualcomm says the new chipset has Kryo 260 CPUs, although it didn’t disclose the exact setup. But Kryo 260 translates to Arm’s old Cortex-A73 CPU, which launched in 2016/2017. So we’re guessing the new SoC has four Cortex-A73 cores and four Cortex-A53 cores, in line with the Snapdragon 665. Nevertheless, you’re getting a 2.4GHz clock speed here compared to the older SoC’s 2GHz CPU speed.

More reading: How to understand Kryo CPU numbering in Qualcomm Snapdragon processors

Meanwhile, the Adreno 610 GPU is indeed identical to the Snapdragon 665’s part as well. So those expecting good gaming performance in the budget segment should probably look at phones with other chipsets. The Snapdragon 680 also shares the older SoC’s Hexagon 686 digital signal processor and Quick Charge 3 tech.

That’s not to say there aren’t upgrades though, as it packs high refresh rate support (90Hz at FHD+), a 6nm design (versus 11nm), and Bluetooth 5.1 versus 5.0. But there’s also a slight downgrade, as the Snapdragon 680 offers a Snapdragon X11 modem versus the 665’s X12 modem.

When will we see phones with these SoCs?

Qualcomm didn’t reveal a timeline for the first devices with these chipsets, but several OEMs confirmed that they’ll use these processors.

Xiaomi specifically said it would use the Snapdragon 778G Plus and Snapdragon 695, while Oppo said it would use the Snapdragon 695 in an upcoming device. Meanwhile, HMD Global hinted at the use of the Snapdragon 480 Plus chipset, while Honor, Motorola, and Vivo confirmed they’ll use the new chips but didn’t specify which ones.