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Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 benchmarked: Taking the fight to the flagships

The Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 looks like a rival to 2022's flagship silicon, but does that bear out in benchmarks?
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Published onMarch 19, 2023

Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 last week, and it’s clear that this is a major step up on paper for the mid-tier Snapdragon 7 series.

The new chipset brings an impressive CPU system reminiscent of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 series, consisting of a single Cortex-X2 core at 2.91GHz, three Cortex-A710 cores at 2.49GHz, and four Cortex-A510 cores at 1.8GHz. This marks the first time a Cortex-X CPU core appears in a Snapdragon 7 series chipset. There’s also an upgraded Adreno GPU, with Qualcomm boasting a two-fold performance boost over the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1.

What does this all mean in terms of actual performance, though? We were able to benchmark a Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 reference handset ahead of launch to get a better idea of what to expect.

About the reference design

Of course, Qualcomm’s reference devices aren’t commercial phones. These are basically prototypes meant for internal testing. It’s worth noting that reference designs typically tend to be somewhat bulky compared to commercial handsets, although this particular handset is comparatively svelte. We’re still expecting varying results for commercial devices, though, owing to software, cooling systems employed, and different designs.

Nevertheless, the Qualcomm reference design brings a 6.65-inch 144Hz OLED screen (FHD+), 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM, 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage, and a 4,192mAh battery. The phone doesn’t have an active cooling system, such as a fan, either.

Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 CPU testing

Going into this, we expected CPU-related scores to be similar to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 family, as all three chipsets use the same CPU cores. However, we might expect the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 to have a slender advantage owing to faster CPU clock speeds, though.

Comparisons to the regular Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 are particularly intriguing, owing to that chip being manufactured on the inferior 4nm Samsung process, while the 7 Plus Gen 2 is produced on TSMC’s 4nm process. As our testing shows, the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 enjoys a major performance and efficiency boost, at least partially due to the switch from Samsung to TSMC. So let’s see if the same is true of the 7 Plus Gen 2.

Sure enough, the Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 reference phone bests the Exynos 2200-toting and Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 S22 Ultra and even edges out the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2-powered OnePlus 11 in single-core tests. In the latter’s case, OnePlus is super-conservative with single-core performance in the name of efficiency. But the less constrained S23 Ultra beats the competition, including the new Snapdragon 7 chip.

The Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 brings impressive CPU performance on par with some 2022 flagship processors.

Looking at multi-core CPU scores, the reference design manages to beat all Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 handsets on the list. Its score is also within touching distance of the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 phones. Qualcomm’s latest flagship 8 Gen 2 processor retains a notable advantage here, though.

Overall, it looks like the Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 is a match for the vanilla Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 across the board when it comes to CPU performance. But the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 phones aren’t far ahead either. This could be explained by the slightly faster CPU clock speeds and potentially differences in cache sizes.

GPU testing

The question of graphical performance is a murkier one on paper, owing to the closed-box nature of the Adreno GPU architecture. However, Qualcomm has noted that the Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 enjoys a two-fold performance boost over the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1. How does this compare to flagship silicon, though?

Mid-range chipsets tend to suffer in the GPU department compared to their flagship counterparts, and the classic 3DMark Wild Life test indeed suggests this continues to be the case. There’s a notable gap in scores between the 7 Plus Gen 2 reference design and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 family as a whole.

Fortunately, the Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 manages a similar score as the high-end Exynos 2200’s AMD GPU while also handily beating the Pixel 7 Pro‘s Arm Mali GPU. And the reference design score also suggests 2.7x the GPU performance of the Nothing Phone 1 and its Snapdragon 778G Plus GPU.

This score highlights that Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 phones can handle today’s demanding games at respectable frame rates. Demanding gamers might still want a phone with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 series or Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor for advanced games down the line, but this is a significant win for the mid-tier chipset nonetheless.

Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 stress testing

One-off GPU testing is one thing, but a lot can be gleaned from stress tests. We subjected the Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 device to a 3DMark Wild Life Stress Test to get a better idea of sustained performance.

The stress test results make for very interesting reading, as the Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 reference device displays rock-solid stability of 99.76%. In fact, this stability means that the Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 handset can beat the Galaxy S22 Ultra (Snapdragon 8 Gen 1) when put under extended stress. Needless to say, the Nothing Phone 1 and its Snapdragon 778G Plus chipset is far behind as well.

Qualcomm's new mid-range chipset fares better than some flagship processors when it comes to marathon GPU tests.

What’s particularly interesting as well is the fact that the Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 handset closed the gap on the Galaxy S23 Ultra and its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset over the course of the stress test. That’s chiefly due to the Galaxy handset only maintaining ~64.6% stability; we have seen better results from other 8 Gen 2 handsets.

The cynic in us is guessing that commercial phones with this chipset might not be as solid, but it still bodes well overall for extended play sessions.

Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2: A flagship-level processor?

Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 stress test Qualcomm Reference Design
Ryan McLeod / Android Authority

Benchmarking reveals that we’re looking at a chipset that’s at least as powerful as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 from a CPU perspective. That’s no mean feat, and it’s a good sign for those who value speed, be it for everyday performance or those who intend to keep their phones for a few years.

Mid-range processors usually display a significant GPU performance gap even when compared to older flagship chips. The bad news is that the Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 is not quite an exception when it comes to one-off GPU tests. There’s still a big gap between Qualcomm’s mid-range and flagship silicon. However, the less capable GPU managed to edge edges out flagship chips from Samsung and Google.

What do you think of the Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 performance?

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The good news is that we could be looking at rock-solid sustained performance here owing to the 4nm TSMC design and ostensibly reduced GPU clock speed. The chipset is even capable of beating some Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 series phones in a stress test.

Again, this is just a reference design, but those on the hunt for sustained gaming performance on a budget should keep an eye on phones with the Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait too long, as Qualcomm confirmed that the first phones are coming this month. The company also name-dropped Redmi and realme as brands working on devices with this chipset.