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Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 announced: A Snapdragon 865 Plus Plus

We heard rumors of a Snapdragon 800-series "Lite" chip for a while now, and the new Snapdragon 870 seems to fit the bill.

Published onJanuary 19, 2021

Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 5G
  • Qualcomm has announced the Snapdragon 870 processor.
  • It says the new chipset is a follow-up to the Snapdragon 865 series.
  • It’s essentially a Snapdragon 865 Plus with a clock speed improvement.

Rumors circulated last year that Qualcomm could be working on a Lite version of its Snapdragon 875/888 flagship silicon, and it’s finally time to see what the company has to offer. Today, Qualcomm officially unveiled the Qualcomm Snapdragon 870.

The Snapdragon 870 shouldn’t be thought of as a Snapdragon 888 “Lite” — rather, it’s more of a follow-up to the Snapdragon 865 series. Call it a Snapdragon 865 Plus Plus. The only major difference between the two chipsets is that the new processor sports a 3.2GHz clock speed for the top-end CPU core, up 100MHz from the old chip.

Otherwise, we’ve got the same three-tiered CPU setup (one Cortex-A77 core at 3.2GHz, three Cortex-A77 CPU cores at 2.4GHz, and four lightweight Cortex-A55 cores at 1.8GHz), Adreno 650 GPU, external Snapdragon X55 modem (with mmWave and sub-6GHz support), and 7nm design as the Snapdragon 865 Plus. The GPU in particular is still among the most powerful in Android phone processors today, so expect smooth performance in advanced 3D games and emulators.

Snapdragon 870: Plenty of shared specs

Snapdragon 870 5G Mobile Platform
Supplied by Qualcomm

These familiar specs can also be found in the machine learning and camera categories, owing to the presence of the old chip’s Hexagon 698 digital signal processor and the Spectra 480 image signal processor (ISP). The ISP in particular enables up to 200MP camera support, 8K/30fps video recording, essentially unlimited 960fps slow-mo recording, and simultaneously capturing 4K video and 64MP photos.

Other notable features include Quick Charge 4 Plus capabilities (no blazing-fast Quick Charge 5 here), 144Hz refresh rate support at QHD+, HDR10+ support, and Qualcomm TrueWireless tech for earbuds. In saying so, it looks like the Snapdragon 870 lacks the FastConnect 6900 connectivity suite seen in the 865 Plus, opting for the 6800 suite seen in the original Snapdragon 865 instead. This means that while you’ve still got Bluetooth 5.2, you’ve also got Wi-Fi 6 instead of Wi-Fi 6E seen on the Plus chipset.

Qualcomm confirmed the Snapdragon 870 will power “flagship” devices from customers including Motorola, OnePlus, OPPO, vivo’s Iqoo brand, and Xiaomi. The Motorola Edge S device is likely Motorola’s Snapdragon 870 phone in question, as per a leak last week. Furthermore, a November 2020 leak by frequent tipster Max Jambor points to the existence of a OnePlus 9E, so that seems like the most obvious candidate for a Snapdragon 870-powered OnePlus device.

Either way, Qualcomm says the first phones powered by the platform will be announced Q1 2021, so we won’t have long to wait for this upgraded chipset.

Here’s hoping the Snapdragon 870 is competitively priced, as it could be a major shot in the arm for the affordable flagship segment if that’s the case. And for what it’s worth, Android Authority readers overwhelmingly supported the idea of a Snapdragon 800 Lite series processor when we published the poll last year.

Next: Qualcomm just spent $1.4 billion to compete with Apple’s Arm laptops

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