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Snapdragon SoC guide: All of Qualcomm's smartphone processors explained

From entry-level to cutting-edge, we break down all the major Snapdragon processors.
By
October 21, 2022
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip in hand
Qualcomm

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors are among the most ubiquitous SoCs in the Android smartphone space. Samsung uses Snapdragon for its Galaxy S line in various markets, and it also powers devices from Xiaomi, OnePlus, and essentially every manufacturer making flagship phones that doesn’t also make its own silicon. There’s a high chance that you’re reading this on a device using a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor right now.

Snapdragon chips aren’t just found in expensive flagship smartphones though. There’s a whole portfolio of processors built for handsets at various price points. Performance and features differ a fair bit between these models, so let’s break down how the company’s latest SoCs compare and what capabilities you should expect.

Snapdragon 8 series — Premium tier

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 vs 8 Gen 1 logos
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Looking for the very best Qualcomm smartphone processor? That will be the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 series, which powers plenty of high-end phones in 2022 such as the Xiaomi 12 series, Galaxy S22 family, and OnePlus 10T. It’s indeed part of the Snapdragon 8 series which is Qualcomm’s most powerful smartphone chipset family.

This latest generation of flagship chipsets consists of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. The former was launched in December 2021 and powered many high-end phones in the first half of 2022. Meanwhile, the Plus processor was launched in May 2022 and powers several flagship phones launched in the second half of the year.

The Snapdragon 8 series powers most high-end smartphones on the market today.

The two processors make for pretty solid upgrades over last year’s Snapdragon 888 series on paper. Both offer 4nm designs featuring a powerful octa-core CPU (1x Cortex-X2, 3x Cortex-A710, 4x Cortex-A510), beefy Adreno 730 GPU, and an integrated Snapdragon X65 modem that tops out at 10Gbps.

Both of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 series chipsets also offer impressive multimedia features such as 8K HDR recording, 200MP single camera support, 36MP triple camera support, and 960fps unlimited slow-mo recording. Other notable features include Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, and Quick Charge 5.

The Plus chipset stands out from the vanilla variant as it’s made on the superior 4nm TSMC process compared to the standard chipset being produced on Samsung’s 4nm process. This switch allowed Qualcomm to crank up the maximum CPU clock speed to 3.2GHz and offer 10% better graphics performance. Best of all, the chipmaker also touts a 30% efficiency boost over the standard 8 Gen 1. We indeed found that the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 offers better results in both one-off benchmarks and stress tests

Tested: Should you buy a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 smartphone?

The previous flagship chip family was 2021’s Snapdragon 888 and 888 Plus. This series is still very powerful, packing a healthy level of CPU power, for one. The package includes a Cortex-X1 core for heavy lifting, three Cortex-A78 cores, and four Cortex-A55 cores. The Plus variant differs by offering a Cortex-X1 with a slight clock speed boost. Otherwise, you’re also getting a powerful GPU, an integrated and full-featured 5G modem, and plenty of multimedia features (e.g. 8K recording, 960fps slow-mo, .

Qualcomm's flagship GPUs are generally considered to be the best out of all Android chipmakers.

The Snapdragon 888 and 888 Plus aren’t the only Snapdragon 8 series processors available, as Qualcomm also launched the Snapdragon 870 and Snapdragon 860 in 2021. These two chips are based on 2020 and 2019’s flagship silicon respectively. The 5G-toting 870 in particular is still a fantastic performer, but the newest mid-range processors have surpassed the 4G-only Snapdragon 860.

Expect to find the Snapdragon 870 chipset in upper mid-range to affordable flagship-type devices. Otherwise, the Snapdragon 860 is a step below the 870, with the mid-range Poco X3 Pro and Xiaomi Pad 5 using it.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 seriesSnapdragon 888 seriesSnapdragon 865/870
CPU
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 series
1x Cortex-X2
3x Cortex-A710
4x Cortex-A510
Snapdragon 888 series
1x Cortex-X1
3x Cortex-A78
4x Cortex-A55
Snapdragon 865/870
1x Cortex-A77
3x Cortex-A77
4x Cortex-A55
GPU
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 series
Adreno 730
Snapdragon 888 series
Adreno 660
Snapdragon 865/870
Adreno 650
DSP
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 series
Hexagon
(fused scalar, tensor, and vector)
(Mixed precision support)
Snapdragon 888 series
Hexagon 780
(fused scalar, tensor, and vector)
Snapdragon 865/870
Hexagon 698
Process
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 series
Samsung 4nm
TSMC 4nm for Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
Snapdragon 888 series
Samsung 5nm
Snapdragon 865/870
Samsung 7nm
Cameras
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 series
• 200MP single shot
• 108MP single with zero shutter lag
• 64MP+36MP with zero shutter lag
• Triple 36MP with zero shutter lag
• Hybrid AF
• 10-bit HEIF image capture
• HDR video
• Multi-frame noise reduction
• Real-time object classification, segmentation, and replacement
• Video super resolution
Snapdragon 888 series
• 200MP single shot
• 84MP single with zero shutter lag
• 64MP+25MP with zero shutter lag
• Triple 24MP with zero shutter lag
• Hybrid AF
• 10-bit HEIF image capture
• HDR video
• Multi-frame noise reduction
• Real-time object classification, segmentation, and replacement
Snapdragon 865/870
• 200MP single shot
• 64MP with zero shutter lag
• 25MP dual camera with zero shutter lag
• Hybrid AF
• HDR video
• Multi-frame noise reduction
• Real-time object classification, segmentation, and replacement
Video capture
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 series
8K @ 30fps (HDR)
4K UHD @ 120fps
720p @ 960fps
Snapdragon 888 series
8K @ 30fps
4K UHD @ 120fps
720p @ 960fps
Snapdragon 865/870
8K @ 30fps
4K UHD @ 120fps
720p @ 960fps
Quick Charge
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 series
5
Snapdragon 888 series
5
Snapdragon 865/870
4+
Modem
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 series
X65 LTE/5G (integrated)
10Gbps down
Snapdragon 888 series
X60 LTE/5G (integrated)
7.5Gbps down
3Gbps up
Snapdragon 865/870
X55 LTE/5G (external)
7.5Gbps down
3Gbps up
Bluetooth
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 series
Bluetooth 5.2
Snapdragon 888 series
Bluetooth 5.2
Snapdragon 865/870
Bluetooth 5.1

Qualcomm recently acquired CPU company Nuvia, and revealed that it will be using Nuvia’s CPU tech in laptops, flagship phones, and more. So expect flagship Snapdragon chipsets with custom CPUs in the next few years.

The San Diego company has also invested heavily in other bits of silicon for its chipsets, such as the GPUs, modems, and image signal processors for cameras. The chipmaker has been developing its machine learning silicon over the years too, boosting features like face recognition, scene/subject/object recognition, natural language processing, video, and more.

Qualcomm isn’t the only company making flagship processors for smartphones. Other high-end chipsets include the Samsung Exynos 2200, the Google Tensor G2 (itself designed by Samsung) and MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000 series. The Snapdragon 8 range is generally considered the top dog among the four in terms of features, and capabilities, although it trades blows with both Samsung and Mediatek’s flagship chips.

Snapdragon 7 series — Bridging the gap

Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 in hand

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 7 series isn’t quite as straightforward as its flagship 8 series. This is due to the sheer number of them, as well as the lower-end chips crossing into the 6 series. The Snapdragon 7 series is essentially an upper mid-range family of processors and the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 is the most capable and recent entry.

The Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 blurs the lines between mid-range and flagship capabilities, starting with the CPU. Expect an octa-core setup here, featuring four powerful Cortex-A710 cores and four Cortex-A510 cores. Qualcomm says the new chipset also boasts a 20% boost in GPU power over the Snapdragon 778G and 30% improvement in machine learning performance. Other notable features include 200MP camera support, 4K HDR recording, and a 4nm design.

The Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 offers some flagship stylings, such as a powerful CPU and 4nm design.

Next on the totem pole is the Snapdragon 780G. Released early in 2021, the 780G has the same 5nm design as the Snapdragon 888 as well as a triple-tiered CPU design. You’re looking at one Cortex-A78 CPU clocked at 2.4GHz, three Cortex-A78 CPUs clocked at 2.2GHz, and four Cortex-A55 CPU cores. In other words, you’ve got enough CPU power to take it to older flagship processors.

The Snapdragon 780G also delivered an Adreno 642 GPU that’s said to offer performance in line with slightly older flagships. In fact, Anandtech reported that it offered better graphical performance than Snapdragon 855 phones, although it falls behind 2020’s Snapdragon 865 devices. That’s still a major leap forward for Qualcomm’s mid-range processors, which have usually lagged far behind even the company’s older flagship chipsets in this area.

Snapdragon 7 Gen 1Snapdragon 780GSnapdragon 778G/778G PlusSnapdragon 768G/765/765G
CPU
Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
4x Cortex-A710
4x Cortex-A510
Snapdragon 780G
2x Kryo 670 (Cortex-A78)
6x Kryo 670 (Cortex-A55)
Snapdragon 778G/778G Plus
2x Kryo 670 (Cortex-A78)
6x Kryo 670 (Cortex-A55)
Snapdragon 768G/765/765G
2x Kryo 475 (Cortex-A76)
6x Kryo 475 (Cortex-A55)
GPU
Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
Adreno 662
Snapdragon 780G
Adreno 642
Snapdragon 778G/778G Plus
Adreno 642L
Snapdragon 768G/765/765G
Adreno 620
DSP
Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
Hexagon
Snapdragon 780G
Hexagon 770
Snapdragon 778G/778G Plus
Hexagon 770
Snapdragon 768G/765/765G
Hexagon 696
Modem
Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
Snapdragon X62 5G/LTE
5G - 4.4Gbps down, 1.6Gbps up
Snapdragon 780G
Snapdragon X53 5G/LTE
5G - 3.3Gbps down, 3.6Gbps up
Snapdragon 778G/778G Plus
Snapdragon X53 5G/LTE
5G - 3.7Gbps down, 1.6Gbps up
Snapdragon 768G/765/765G
Snapdragon X52 5G/LTE
5G - 3.7Gbps down, 1.6Gbps up
Cameras
Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
64MP single
64MP+20MP dual
25MP+25MP+25MP triple
200MP snapshot
Snapdragon 780G
84MP single
64MP+20MP dual
25MP+25MP+25MP triple
192MP snapshot
Snapdragon 778G/778G Plus
64MP single
36MP+22MP dual
22MP+22MP+22MP triple
192MP snapshot
Snapdragon 768G/765/765G
32MP single
22MP dual
192MP snapshot
Quick Charge
Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
4+
Snapdragon 780G
4+
Snapdragon 778G/778G Plus
4+
Snapdragon 768G/765/765G
4+
Bluetooth
Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
5.2
Snapdragon 780G
5.2
Snapdragon 778G/778G Plus
5.2
Snapdragon 768G/765/765G
5.0 (765, 765G)
5.2 (768G)
Process
Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
4nm
Snapdragon 780G
5nm
Snapdragon 778G/778G Plus
6nm
Snapdragon 768G/765/765G
7nm

We haven’t seen this chipset in many processors, unfortunately. But that’s where the Snapdragon 778G series comes in. This series offers the same CPU cores, an Adreno 642L GPU, and a 6nm manufacturing design (compared to the 780G’s 5nm design). The company also told us at the time of the 778G’s launch that it was using a different foundry to make these chips, presumably to get around the industry-wide chip shortage.

Qualcomm also launched the Snapdragon 778G Plus in late 2021, but the upgrades here are extremely minor (such as a 100MHz CPU clock speed boost).

There's a sizeable performance gap between newer Snapdragon 7 series chipsets and older ones.

Going down the list, we’ve got the Snapdragon 765 series, 750G, and 768G, being the firm’s first mid-range 5G processor family. The Snapdragon 765G in particular saw plenty of adoption among mid-range phones and it even powered two flagship phones (LG Velvet and Google Pixel 5). But all of these processors have been surpassed by the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1, Snapdragon 780G, and Snapdragon 778G series.

These chipsets nevertheless sport comprehensive 5G capabilities, 7nm or 8nm designs, a 1+1+6 CPU layout, and respectable graphical grunt. The 750G actually features newer CPU cores though, which should theoretically give it a slight boost on paper over its stablemates. But this comes at the expense of graphical performance, machine learning power, and camera capabilities compared to the 765 and 768G chips.

Snapdragon 6 series — Value for money

Snapdragon 6 Gen 1
Supplied by Qualcomm

Where the Snapdragon 7 series tries to bridge the gap between mid-range and flagship, the Snapdragon 6 series is mostly focused on the ~$300 and under segment. And the latest processor in this family is the Snapdragon 6 Gen 1.

The Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 is a huge step up from previous Snapdragon 6 series SoCs, offering a powerful CPU (4x Cortex-A78, 4x Cortex-A55) and an improved Adreno GPU. In fact, Qualcomm claims a 40% and 35% performance boost over the Snapdragon 695’s CPU and GPU respectively. Other notable features include a 4nm design, 200MP snapshot support, and 4K video capture.

Snapdragon 6 Gen 1Snapdragon 695Snapdragon 690Snapdragon 680
CPU
Snapdragon 6 Gen 1
4x Cortex-A78
4x Cortex-A55
Snapdragon 695
2x Kryo 660 (Cortex-A78)
6x Kryo 660 (Cortex-A55)
Snapdragon 690
2x Kryo 560 (Cortex-A77)
6x Kryo 560 (Cortex-A55)
Snapdragon 680
4x Kryo 260 (Cortex-A73)
4x Kryo 260 (Cortex-A53)
GPU
Snapdragon 6 Gen 1
Adreno
Snapdragon 695
Adreno 619
Snapdragon 690
Adreno 619L
Snapdragon 680
Adreno 610
RAM
Snapdragon 6 Gen 1
LPDDR5
Snapdragon 695
LPDDR4X
Snapdragon 690
LPDDR4X
Snapdragon 680
LPDDR4X
DSP
Snapdragon 6 Gen 1
Hexagon
Snapdragon 695
Hexagon 686
Snapdragon 690
Hexagon 692
Hexagon Tensor Accelerator
Snapdragon 680
Hexagon 686
Modem
Snapdragon 6 Gen 1
X62 5G
2.9Gbps down
TBC up
Snapdragon 695
X51 5G
2.5Gbps down
0.9Gbps up
Snapdragon 690
X51 5G
2.5Gbps down
0.9Gbps up
Snapdragon 680
X11 4G
390Mbps down
150Mbps up
Cameras
Snapdragon 6 Gen 1
48MP single
25MP+16MP dual
13MP+13MP+13MP triple
200MP snapshot
Snapdragon 695
32MP single or 16MP dual
192MP snapshot
Snapdragon 690
32MP single or 16MP dual
192MP snapshot
Snapdragon 680
32MP single
16MP dual
13MP+13MP+5MP triple
64MP snapshot
Quick Charge
Snapdragon 6 Gen 1
4+
Snapdragon 695
4+
Snapdragon 690
4+
Snapdragon 680
3.0
Bluetooth
Snapdragon 6 Gen 1
5.2
Snapdragon 695
5.2
Snapdragon 690
5.1
Snapdragon 680
5.1
Process
Snapdragon 6 Gen 1
4nm
Snapdragon 695
6nm
Snapdragon 690
8nm FinFET
Snapdragon 680
6nm

The previous top-end processor in this series was the Snapdragon 695, being an incremental upgrade over 2020’s Snapdragon 690. The 695 brings a capable octa-core CPU (2x Cortex-A77 and 6x Cortex-A55), and an Adreno 619 GPU seen in the Snapdragon 750G. We also get 13MP triple camera support, 108MP single camera support, and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity. But the big disappointment here is that it lacks 4K video recording.

Qualcomm also launched the Snapdragon 680 at the same time as the 695, and this chip stands out from the above entries by being a 4G-only SoC. It seems to be derived from the older, budget Snapdragon 665 SoC, sharing features like old CPU cores (four Cortex-A73 and four Cortex-A53), the Adreno 610 GPU, Hexagon 686 DSP, and Quick Charge 3.0 fast charging. There are a couple of upgrades though, namely a much smaller 6nm manufacturing process and Bluetooth 5.1 support.

Snapdragon 4 series — Entry-level

qualcomm snapdragon 480 5g
Qualcomm

Now we come to the least capable Snapdragon series (aside from the dormant Snapdragon 200 family), designed for entry-level smartphones. But there’s good news here, as the latest Snapdragon 4 chipset is actually a massive improvement.

The Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 offers a 6nm design, a pretty capable CPU (2x Cortex-A78, 6x Cortex-A55), and a 10% faster GPU than the earlier Snapdragon 480. Otherwise, this SoC has quite a few things in common with the Snapdragon 695. We’ve got the same X51 5G modem, similar camera capabilities (no 4K recording here), 120Hz support at FHD+ display resolution, and Wi-Fi 5.

The Snapdragon 4 series lacks features like a powerful GPU and 4K recording but gains high refresh rate support and 5G.

Go down a notch and we’ve got the Snapdragon 480. This was the first 5G-enabled processor in the Snapdragon 4 series, being announced in early 2021. This is essentially a cut-back Snapdragon 750G chipset, featuring mmWave 5G support, the same Adreno 619 GPU, the same 8nm manufacturing process, Quick Charge 4 Plus tech, and support for FHD+ 120Hz displays.

We do see a few compromises though, such as older CPU cores (2x Cortex-A76 and 6x Cortex-A55), less impressive camera capabilities (no 4K recording, 64MP snapshot support), and slower 5G speeds. Still, this was a major upgrade for the 4 series, which lacked more modern CPUs and 5G capabilities.

Snapdragon 4 Gen 1Snapdragon 480/480 PlusSnapdragon 460
CPU
Snapdragon 4 Gen 1
2x Cortex-A78
6x Cortex-A55
Snapdragon 480/480 Plus
2x Kryo 460 (Cortex-A76)
6x Kryo 460 (Cortex-A55)
Snapdragon 460
4x Kryo 240 (Cortex-A73)
4x Kryo 240 (Cortex-A53)
GPU
Snapdragon 4 Gen 1
Adreno
Snapdragon 480/480 Plus
Adreno 619
Snapdragon 460
Adreno 610
DSP
Snapdragon 4 Gen 1
Hexagon
Snapdragon 480/480 Plus
Hexagon 686
Snapdragon 460
Hexagon 683
Modem
Snapdragon 4 Gen 1
Snapdragon X51 5G
2.5Gbps down,
0.9Gbps up
Snapdragon 480/480 Plus
Snapdragon X51 5G
2.5Gbps down, 660Mbps up
Snapdragon 460
Snapdragon X11 LTE
390Mbps down,
150Mbps up
Cameras
Snapdragon 4 Gen 1
32MP single
25MP+13MP dual
13MP+13MP+13MP triple
108MP snapshot

Snapdragon 480/480 Plus
25MP single or 25MP+13MP dual
64MP snapshot

Snapdragon 460
32MP single or 22MP dual
192MP snapshot
Quick Charge
Snapdragon 4 Gen 1
4+
Snapdragon 480/480 Plus
4+
Snapdragon 460
3.0
Bluetooth
Snapdragon 4 Gen 1
5.2
Snapdragon 480/480 Plus
5.1
Snapdragon 460
5.1
Process
Snapdragon 4 Gen 1
6nm
Snapdragon 480/480 Plus
8nm
Snapdragon 460
11nm FinFET

The Snapdragon 480 was succeeded by the Snapdragon 480 Plus in late 2021, but this is a mild upgrade at best rather than a major step up.

The 4G-toting Snapdragon 460 was the top dog until the 480 came out, and it has a lot in common with the Snapdragon 662. This includes old but still respectable CPU cores (four Cortex-A73 and four Cortex-A53), the same GPU, HEIF support, Bluetooth 5.1, and even 48MP multi-frame capture capabilities.

Notable Snapdragon 4 series phones


That’s all for our Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC guide! Let us know your thoughts on the silicon giant’s portfolio in the comments. You can also check out our article charting the history of the Snapdragon 8 family over here.