Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 7-series of processors have proven quite popular recently, powering a range of more affordable 5G smartphones throughout 2020. Examples include the popular Google Pixel 5 and OnePlus Nord, both packing the Snapdragon 765G. Then there’s the newer Samsung Galaxy A52 5G powered by the Snapdragon 750G, with everything you need for a solid smartphone experience.

Today, Qualcomm unveiled its latest high-end processor in the every growing 7-series: the Qualcomm Snapdragon 780G 5G. This chipset is destined to power mid-range smartphones hitting the market in the second quarter of 2021.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 780G: Closing in on flagship-tier performance

Qualcomm’s 7-series set out to quickly bring 8-series features to more affordable price points. The Snapdragon 780G sits right on the cutting edge.

It’s built on a 5nm manufacturing process, matching Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 888 chipset. There’s a much more powerful Kryo 670 CPU setup this generation too, built from four of the latest Arm Cortex-A78 big CPU cores and four little Cortex-A55 cores. There’s no powerhouse Arm Cortex-X1 core here; that remains reserved for flagship-tier smartphones.

Even so, the move to four big cores should give the 780G much more bite for high-performance applications versus the 765G and 750G. Qualcomm boasts a 40% CPU performance uplift from previous generation 7-series chipsets. Snapdragon 780G-powered handsets can also be paired up with up to 16GB of fast LPDDR4 memory, which can hit up to 2.1GHz clock speeds.

Read more: Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G: More choice for affordable 5G

The Adreno 642 graphics processor also looks to be another major improvement. Qualcomm hasn’t given us specific performance numbers, but the Adreno naming scheme points to performance that should fall somewhere around 2019’s flagship-grade Snapdragon 855 processor. Complete with 120Hz refresh rate support, 10-bit gaming, and updatable GPU drivers, this could turn out to be a solid gaming package.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 780G specs

 Snapdragon 780GSnapdragon 765 / 765GSnapdragon 750G
CPUKryo 670 octa-core
1x Prime @ 2.4GHz (Cortex-A78)
3x Performance @ 2.2GHz (Cortex-A78)
4x Efficiency @ 1.9GHz (Cortex-A55)
Kryo 475 octa-core
1x Prime @ 2.3GHz (Cortex-A76)
1x Performance @ 2.2GHz (Cortex-A76)
6x Efficiency @ 1.8GHz (Cortex-A55)
Kryo 570 octa-core
2x Performance @ 2.2GHz (Cortex-A77)
6x Efficiency @ 1.8GHz (Cortex-A55)
GPUAdreno 642Adreno 620Adreno 619
DSPHexagon 770 with Tensor AcceleratorHexagon 696 with Tensor AcceleratorHexagon 694 with Tensor Accelerator
Camera84MP single camera
64+20MP dual camera
25+25+25MP triple camera
Zero shutter lag, 10-bit HEIF, staggered HDR, MFNR
192MP snapshot
36MP single camera
22MP dual camera with zero shutter lag
192MP snapshot
36MP single camera
16MP dual camera with zero shutter lag
192MP snapshot
ModemSnapdragon X53 5G/LTE
5G: 3,300Mbps down
Snapdragon X52 5G/LTE
5G: 3,700Mbps down, 1,600Mbps up
4G: 1,200Mbps down, 210Mbps up
Snapdragon X52 5G/LTE
5G: 3,700Mbps down, 1,600Mbps up
4G: 1,200Mbps down, 210Mbps up
Other wirelessBluetooth 5.2
Wi-Fi 6E
Qualcomm aptX suite
Bluetooth LE Audio
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi 6 ready
Qualcomm TrueWireless and aptX Adaptive audio
Bluetooth 5.1
Wi-Fi 6 ready
Qualcomm TrueWireless and aptX Adaptive audio
Fast chargingQuick Charge 4 PlusQuick Charge 4 Plus
Quick Charge AI
Quick Charge 4 Plus
Manufacturing process5nm7nm8nm

More than just higher performance

Qualcomm Snapdrafon 785G 5G

Credit: Qualcomm

In addition to significant general and gaming performance boosts, the Snapdragon 780 integrates more powerful AI, imaging processing, and networking capabilities.

Qualcomm has doubled the AI processing performance with its latest Hexagon 770 DSP, hitting 12 TOPS of compute capability. That’s not far off the number-crunching prowess of 2020’s Snapdragon 865 flagship-tier processor, which boasted 15 TOPS.

Of course, camera capabilities are super important in modern mid-range and flagship smartphones. The Snapdragon 780G’s Spectra 570 boasts three 14-bit ISPs, with 2.5Gbps of computer vision processing capabilities. The phone can capture images and video from three 25MP cameras simultaneously. In addition, there’s support for 4K HDR video capture with real-time bokeh. Impressively, this is really close to the image processing capabilities of the Snapdragon 888.

See also: What’s driving the Snapdragon 865 camera? Two gigapixels.

Just like previous entries in the 7-series, the Snapdragon 780G boasts 5G support. There’s no mention of mmWave compatibility on the Snapdragon X53 spec sheet and mmWave wasn’t implemented in many of 2020’s mid-range handsets anyway. However, from what we know about Qualcomm’s 5G chipsets, the Snapdragon X53 modem works with Qualcomm’s mmWave antenna modules, so mmWave 5G support can be deployed by handset manufacturers in markets where there’s demand. Download speeds peak at 3.3Gbps on sub-6GHz 5G links.

Sticking with networking, the Snapdragon 780G sports Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E with 6GHz spectrum via the FastConnect 6900 chipset. There’s also Bluetooth 5.2 complete with LE Audio, the latest aptX audio technologies, and Snapdragon Sound.

What to expect from the Snapdragon 780G 5G

Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 in hand

The upper end of Qualcomm chipset portfolio looks quite interesting in 2021. The Snapdragon 888 remains firmly on top, followed by the 870 which is essentially a souped-up version of the previous generation 865 Plus. The 780G then sits just below that, although it’s really not far behind this chipset in many regards and actually scores a few design wins over it.

The 780G is a major step up for mid-tier performance, as it’s built on a 5nm manufacturing process with four high-performance Cortex-A78 cores and a beefy Adreno 642 GPU. The chip should bring 7-series performance much closer to premium tier products this year. Qualcomm backs this all up with bleeding-edge connectivity, machine learning, and image processing features. Qualcomm doesn’t seem to expect much in the way of mmWave 5G adoption with this chipset, which might be a little disappointing for some markets. Although most consumers probably wouldn’t notice in reality anyway.

On paper, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 780G 5G looks like a solid piece of hardware that’s really ambitious for a 7-series chipset. And that’s exactly what we’ve been waiting for. We’ll have to see how all this technology affects product pricing, but we should find this out soon when the first smartphones arrive in the next few months.

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