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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
March 24, 2022
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip in hand
Qualcomm

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors are the most ubiquitous SoCs in the Android smartphone space. Samsung uses Snapdragon for its Galaxy S line in the US and a few other 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 very 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 800 series — Premium tier

Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 reference design
Qualcomm

Looking for the very best Qualcomm smartphone processor? That will be the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, which power several high-end phones in 2022 such as the Xiaomi 12 series, Galaxy S22 family, and Oppo Find X5 Pro. It’s indeed part of the Snapdragon 800 series which is Qualcomm’s most powerful smartphone chipset family.

This new processor promises to be a pretty solid upgrade over the current-gen Snapdragon 888 flagship SoC. The 4nm chipset features a beefy octa-core CPU, namely a powerful Cortex-X2 core, three Cortex-A710 cores, and four Cortex-A510 cores for lightweight tasks. Qualcomm says you should therefore expect a 20% performance improvement and 30% efficiency gain over the current Snapdragon SoC. In saying so, our own benchmarking of the Galaxy S22 series showed that CPU performance gains were negligible.

You can also expect some impressive graphics hardware here, with Qualcomm’s latest Adreno GPU claiming a 30% performance gain and 25% efficiency boost over its predecessor. In fact, the company even said you can expect a performance boost of up to 60% over the older SoC when using the Vulkan API. These gains are indeed confirmed in our benchmarking, although sustained performance sees a major drop.

More Snapdragon coverage: Galaxy S22 benchmarked — Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 versus Exynos 2200

The latest chip also includes an integrated Snapdragon X65 5G modem that tops out at 10Gbps and supports mmWave and sub-6GHz flavors of 5G. Otherwise, you can expect Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, 200MP single camera support, 8K HDR recording, and Quick Charge 5 support.

The previous flagship chip family was 2021’s Snapdragon 888 and 888 Plus. This series powers a variety of phones, such as the Xiaomi Mi 11, the Galaxy S21 series in the US, and the OnePlus 9 series.

The Snapdragon 888 series isn’t a slouch, 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.

Qualcomm's flagship GPUs are generally considered to be the best out of all Android chipmakers, making it ideal for mobile gamers.

Otherwise, the Snapdragon 888 series also has a great GPU for advanced games and emulators, and an integrated 5G modem for the first time in the flagship series. It also supports 200MP images, 8K recording, Quick Charge 5, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2.

The Snapdragon 888 and 888 Plus aren’t the only Snapdragon 800 series processors available, as Qualcomm also launched the Snapdragon 870 and Snapdragon 860 in 2021.

Revealed in early 2021, the Snapdragon 870 is literally a tiny upgrade over 2020’s Snapdragon 865 and 865 Plus flagship processors. All three of these chipsets sport a tri-cluster CPU arrangement, featuring one powerful Cortex-A77 core, three less powerful but still very capable Cortex-A77 cores, and four low-powered but efficient Cortex-A55 cores. All three processors also offer an Adreno 650 GPU that’s still a fantastic performer and can handle a variety of advanced games and emulators. We do see clock speed differences between the three, but there isn’t much of a difference when it comes to actual performance and capabilities.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1Snapdragon 888/888 PlusSnapdragon 865/865 Plus/870
CPU
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
1x Cortex-X2
3x Cortex -A710
4x Cortex-A510
Snapdragon 888/888 Plus
1x Cortex-X1
3x Cortex-A78
4x Cortex-A55
Snapdragon 865/865 Plus/870
1x Cortex-A77
3x Cortex-A77
4x Cortex-A55
GPU
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Adreno
Snapdragon 888/888 Plus
Adreno 660
Snapdragon 865/865 Plus/870
Adreno 650
DSP
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Hexagon
Snapdragon 888/888 Plus
Hexagon 780
Snapdragon 865/865 Plus/870
Hexagon 698
Process
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
4nm
Snapdragon 888/888 Plus
5nm
Snapdragon 865/865 Plus/870
7nm FinFET
Modem
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
X65 LTE/5G (integrated)
10Gbps down
3000 Mbps up
Snapdragon 888/888 Plus
X60 LTE/5G (integrated)
7500 Mbps down
3000 Mbps up
Snapdragon 865/865 Plus/870
X55 LTE/5G (external)
7500 Mbps down
3000 Mbps up
Cameras
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
108MP single, 64MP+36MP dual, or 36MP triple
200MP snapshot
Snapdragon 888/888 Plus
84MP single, 64MP+25MP dual, or 24MP triple
200MP snapshot
Snapdragon 865/865 Plus/870
64MP single or 25MP dual
200MP snapshot

Quick Charge
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
5
Snapdragon 888/888 Plus
5
Snapdragon 865/865 Plus/870
4+
Bluetooth
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
5.2
Snapdragon 888/888 Plus
5.2
Snapdragon 865/865 Plus/870
5.2 (5.1 for 865)

Qualcomm also launched the Snapdragon 860 in 2021. It’s effectively 2019’s Snapdragon 855 Plus with a couple of minor tweaks. These include improved external display support and the ability to address more RAM. Either way, phones with the Snapdragon 860 are still powerful enough for smooth performance in advanced games and in general. But you do miss out on newer features like 5G, 8K recording, and super-fast imaging capabilities, which the aforementioned chipsets all offer.

Expect to find the Snapdragon 870 chipset in upper mid-range to affordable flagship-type devices such as the OnePlus 9R, Vivo X60 Pro, Motorola Moto G100, and Redmi K40. Otherwise, the Snapdragon 860 is a step below the 870, with the mid-range Poco X3 Pro using it.

Qualcomm used to offer in-house designed CPU cores until the Snapdragon 821 back in 2016. But these days, it uses Arm’s Cortex cores and makes a few tweaks to them instead. It recently acquired CPU company Nuvia, and has revealed that it will be using Nuvia’s CPU tech in laptops, flagship phones, and more. So it certainly sounds like custom CPU cores could be back on the menu next year or later.

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, and more.

Qualcomm isn’t the only company making flagship processors for smartphones. Other high-end chipsets including the Samsung Exynos 2200, Huawei’s HiSilicon Kirin 9000, and MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000. The Snapdragon 800 range is generally considered the top dog in terms of features, capabilities, and brand name, although we’re eager to see how the Dimensity 9000 stacks up to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.

Notable Snapdragon 800 series phones

Snapdragon 700 series — Bridging the gap

Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 in hand

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 700 series isn’t quite as straightforward as its flagship 800 series. This is due to the sheer number of them, as well as the lower-end chips crossing into the 600 series. The Snapdragon 700 series is essentially an upper mid-range family of processors and the Snapdragon 780G is the most capable and recent of the lot.

Released early in 2021, the 780G has the same 5nm design as the Snapdragon 888, supports both mmWave and sub-6GHz flavors of 5G, 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 flagship processors from rival companies like Huawei’s Kirin 9000 and MediaTek’s earlier Dimensity 1200.

The Snapdragon 780G also delivers an Adreno 642 GPU that’s said to offer performance in line with slightly older flagships. In fact, Anandtech reports that you can expect 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.

Qualcomm followed this up with the Snapdragon 778G and 778G Plus, which seem to have some slightly inferior specs compared to the 780G. 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.

Snapdragon 780GSnapdragon 778G/778G PlusSnapdragon 768G/765/765GSnapdragon 750G
CPU
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)
Snapdragon 750G
2x Kryo 475 (Cortex-A77)
6x Kryo 475 (Cortex-A55)
GPU
Snapdragon 780G
Adreno 642
Snapdragon 778G/778G Plus
Adreno 642L
Snapdragon 768G/765/765G
Adreno 620
Snapdragon 750G
Adreno 619
DSP
Snapdragon 780G
Hexagon 770
Snapdragon 778G/778G Plus
Hexagon 770
Snapdragon 768G/765/765G
Hexagon 696
Snapdragon 750G
Hexagon 570
Modem
Snapdragon 780G
Snapdragon X53 5G/LTE
5G - 3300Mbps down, uplink TBC
Snapdragon 778G/778G Plus
Snapdragon X53 5G/LTE
5G - 3300Mbps down, uplink TBC
Snapdragon 768G/765/765G
Snapdragon X52 5G/LTE
5G - 3700Mbps down, 1600Mbps up
Snapdragon 750G
Snapdragon X52 5G/LTE
5G - 3700Mbps down, 1600Mbps up
Cameras
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 or 22MP dual
192MP snapshot
Snapdragon 750G
32MP single or 22MP dual
192MP snapshot
Quick Charge
Snapdragon 780G
4+
Snapdragon 778G/778G Plus
4+
Snapdragon 768G/765/765G
4+
Snapdragon 750G
4+
Bluetooth
Snapdragon 780G
5.2
Snapdragon 778G/778G Plus
5.2
Snapdragon 768G/765/765G
5.0 (765, 765G)
5.2 (768G)
Snapdragon 750G
5.1
Process
Snapdragon 780G
5nm
Snapdragon 778G/778G Plus
6nm
Snapdragon 768G/765/765G
7nm
Snapdragon 750G
8nm

Qualcomm launched the Snapdragon 765 series, 750G, and 768G in 2020 as the firm’s first mid-range 5G processors. These chipsets all 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.

2020 saw some manufacturers use the Snapdragon 765G chipset for their flagship chipsets, such as the Google Pixel 5 and LG Velvet. This demonstrates just how capable these processors are these days. This trend largely came to a halt in 2021 though, as Qualcomm offered cheaper Snapdragon 800-series processors instead and Google decided to debut in-house silicon for the Pixel 6 series.

The Snapdragon 700 series is ideal for those wanting power and features on a budget.

There are still a few 4G-enabled Snapdragon 700 series processors in use by manufacturers, these being the Snapdragon 730 series, Snapdragon 732G, and Snapdragon 720G. These are all on are next on the totem pole in terms of power and capabilities. We’ve got octa-core CPUs featuring two powerful Cortex-A76 CPUs and six Cortex-A55 cores, and powerful Spectra image signal processors for high-resolution imaging.

All of these aforementioned chipsets support 192MP snapshots, although they top out at a far lower resolution for multi-frame processing (e.g. HDR, night mode). You won’t get 8K here either, but 4K at 30fps is basically guaranteed at this tier.

Notable Snapdragon 700 series phones

Snapdragon 600 series — Value for money

Where the Snapdragon 700 series tries to bridge the gap between mid-range and flagship, the Snapdragon 600 series is mostly focused on the ~$300 and under segment. We say “mostly,” because the Snapdragon 695 looks like it can duke it out with some Snapdragon 700-series processors.

This processor brings a relatively powerful octa-core CPU (2x Cortex-A77 and 6x Cortex-A55), and an Adreno 619 GPU seen in last year’s Snapdragon 750G. We also get 4K HDR video recording, 13MP triple camera support, 108MP single camera support, dedicated machine learning silicon, and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity.

Snapdragon 695Snapdragon 690Snapdragon 680Snapdragon 675/670
CPU
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)
Snapdragon 675/670
4x Cortex-A53
4x Cortex-A53
GPU
Snapdragon 695
Adreno 619
Snapdragon 690
Adreno 619L
Snapdragon 680
Adreno 610
Snapdragon 675/670
Adreno 505
RAM
Snapdragon 695
LPDDR4X
Snapdragon 690
LPDDR4X
Snapdragon 680
LPDDR3
Snapdragon 675/670
LPDDR3
DSP
Snapdragon 695
Hexagon 686
Snapdragon 690
Hexagon 692
Hexagon Tensor Accelerator
Snapdragon 680
Hexagon 686
Snapdragon 675/670
Hexagon 536
Modem
Snapdragon 695
X51 5G
2,500Mbps down
900Mbps up
Snapdragon 690
X51 5G
2,500Mbps down
900Mbps up
Snapdragon 680
X11 4G
390Mbps down
150Mbps up
Snapdragon 675/670
X6 LTE
150Mbps down
75Mbps up
Cameras
Snapdragon 695
32MP single or 16MP dual
(192MP snapshot)
Snapdragon 690
32MP single or 16MP dual
(192MP snapshot)
Snapdragon 680
32MP single
13MP dual
13MP+13MP+5MP triple
64MP snapshot
Snapdragon 675/670
12MP single or 8MP dual
Quick Charge
Snapdragon 695
4+
Snapdragon 690
4+
Snapdragon 680
3.0
Snapdragon 675/670
3.0
Bluetooth
Snapdragon 695
5.2
Snapdragon 690
5.1
Snapdragon 680
5.1
Snapdragon 675/670
5.0
Process
Snapdragon 695
6nm
Snapdragon 690
8nm FinFET
Snapdragon 680
6nm
Snapdragon 675/670
12nm FinFET

The Snapdragon 695 succeeds last year’s Snapdragon 690. This new chip is pretty similar to the 690, but has a slightly less capable Adreno 619 GPU, newer CPU cores, and still lacks triple-camera support. Nevertheless, Qualcomm says the new chip enjoys a 15% CPU boost and 30% GPU boost over its predecessor.

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, lower mid-range 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 (meaning better efficiency) and Bluetooth 5.1 support.

Moving down the ladder, we’ve got the 4G-only Snapdragon 675 and the Snapdragon 670, dating back to 2018/2019 and thus not used much anymore. These two SoCs share a lot in common with the first Snapdragon 700 series processors (e.g. Snapdragon 710). The Snapdragon 670 and 675 offer powerful Cortex-A75 and A76 CPU cores respectively, paired with low-power Cortex-A55 cores. You can also expect aging but decent GPUs (albeit inferior to the 700 series), Bluetooth 5 support, and Quick Charge 4+ capabilities. The 670 and 675 also deliver the 700 family’s support for features like 4K recording, 192MP snapshots, and 48MP photos with multi-frame processing.

Notable Snapdragon 600 series phones

Snapdragon 400 series — Entry-level

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 400 chipset is actually a massive improvement.

The Snapdragon 480 is the first 5G-enabled processor in the Snapdragon 400 series. It was announced in April 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 is a major upgrade for the 400 series, which lacked recently released CPU tech and 5G capabilities. This processor is also theoretically superior to all but the latest Snapdragon 600 series SoCs.

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.

Snapdragon 480/480 PlusSnapdragon 460Snapdragon 450Snapdragon 439
CPU
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)
Snapdragon 450
8x 1.8Ghz Cortex-A53
Snapdragon 439
4x 1.95Ghz Cortex-A53
4x 1.45Ghz Cortex-A53
GPU
Snapdragon 480/480 Plus
Adreno 619
Snapdragon 460
Adreno 610
Snapdragon 450
Adreno 506
Snapdragon 439
Adreno 505
DSP
Snapdragon 480/480 Plus
Hexagon 686
Snapdragon 460
Hexagon 683
Snapdragon 450
Hexagon 546
Snapdragon 439
Hexagon 536
Modem
Snapdragon 480/480 Plus
Snapdragon X51 5G
2500Mbps down, 660Mbps up
Snapdragon 460
Snapdragon X11 LTE
390Mbps down,
150Mbps up
Snapdragon 450
Snapdragon X9 LTE
300Mbps down, 150Mbps up
Snapdragon 439
Snapdragon X6 LTE
150Mbps down, 75Mbps up
Cameras
Snapdragon 480/480 Plus
25MP single or 25MP+13MP dual
64MP snapshot

Snapdragon 460
32MP single or 22MP dual
192MP snapshot
Snapdragon 450
48MP single or 22MP dual
192MP snapshot
Snapdragon 439
21MP single or 8MP dual
Quick Charge
Snapdragon 480/480 Plus
4+
Snapdragon 460
3.0
Snapdragon 450
3.0
Snapdragon 439
3.0
Bluetooth
Snapdragon 480/480 Plus
5.1
Snapdragon 460
5.1
Snapdragon 450
4.1
Snapdragon 439
5.0
Process
Snapdragon 480/480 Plus
8nm
Snapdragon 460
11nm FinFET
Snapdragon 450
14nm FinFET
Snapdragon 439
12nm FinFET

Going back further, the Snapdragon 450 and 439 were the top chipsets in this series until 2019. These offered octa-core designs based on low-powered Cortex-A53 cores, very modest LTE speeds, and unspectacular Adreno 500-series GPUs. In other words, phones powered by these chips are more likely to struggle with advanced games, camera performance, and everyday system tasks. Their own major saving grace is that they’re pretty power-efficient owing to 14nm and 12nm manufacturing processes respectively.

Those wanting good gaming performance, the fastest charging, the latest Bluetooth standard, and the best cameras have traditionally had to look elsewhere. Fortunately, the Snapdragon 460 and 480 are bringing big improvements to this tier. You should still look at phones with Snapdragon 700 or 800 chips if you want the latest and greatest features and the best performance, but things are stepping up in this segment.

Notable Snapdragon 400 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 800 family over here.