Unless you're buying a brand new Google Pixel 6 or 6 Pro, or any iPhone, your next Android flagship is likely to contain one of Qualcomm's processors, with late 2021 and 2022 flagship devices set to contain Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.
Last year's flagship Qualcomm processor was the 888, and then the 888 Plus, with 8 a very lucky number in Asian culture. Presumably, 899 just wasn't as snappy as 888, so the best thing must have been to reboot the name back to basics - the 8 Gen 1, allowing a new naming convention beginning to blossom.
Of course, Qualcomm's ARM-based competitors aren't standing still, with the aforementioned Apple processors delivering very impressive results. Then there's Samsung which makes its own Exynos processors, MediaTek makes a whole stack of processors for mid-range smartphone models, and there are other processor makers besides, such as Unisoc, which supplies the processor inside of Nokia's recently launched T20 tablet, but with Qualcomm the undisputed premium processor maker for devices running Android, and reportedly the exclusive ARM processor maker for Windows 10 and 11 on ARM computers, Qualcomm is a powerhouse all its own, and its yearly Tech Summit is testament to that.
With the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 blog post here, the product brief PDF here, and product page here, this processor is set to be adopted by global OEMs and brands including Black Shark, Honor, iQOO, Motorola, Nubia, OnePlus, OPPO, Realme, Redmi, SHARP, Sony Corporation, vivo, Xiaomi, and ZTE, with commercial devices expected by the end of 2021.
Alex Katouzian, the senior VP and GM of mobile, compute, and infrastructure at Qualcomm said: "As the world’s most advanced mobile platform, Snapdragon is synonymous with premium Android experiences and the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 sets the standard for the next generation of flagship mobile devices. It delivers connectivity, photography, AI, gaming, sound, and security experiences never before available in a smartphone.”
The key features of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 are below, but first, here's Qualcomm's "Introducing the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Mobile Platform" video:
Here are the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1's key features, as described by Qualcomm:
Equipped with the 4th gen Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF System, the new Snapdragon 8 is the most advanced 5G mobile platform and the world’s first 5G modem-RF solution to reach 10 Gigabit download speeds. Snapdragon 8 features the Qualcomm FastConnect 6900 Mobile Connectivity System supporting the fastest Wi-Fi speeds available — up to 3.6 Gbps—over Wi-Fi 6 and 6E to ensure games and apps perform smoothly, even with multiple devices on one network.
This new premium mobile platform takes smartphone photography beyond pro. Snapdragon Sight Technology includes the first 18-bit ISP ever created for mobile, capturing over 4000x more camera data than its predecessor for extreme dynamic range, colour, and sharpness at staggering speeds up to 3.2 gigapixels per second. This is also the first 8K HDR video capture in a mobile platform and it’s capable of capturing in the premium HDR10+ format that’s loaded with over a billion shades of colour.
Video will look even more stunning thanks to the new Bokeh Engine which adds beautiful soft backgrounds to videos; it’s like Portrait Mode for video capture. Snapdragon 8 also includes a fourth separate ISP, the new Always-On ISP, which allows the camera to run with extremely low power consumption so users can experience always-on face unlocking and locking if your face isn’t present for heightened privacy.
The 7th Gen Qualcomm AI Engine is equipped with the ultra-high performance and efficient Qualcomm® HexagonTM processor, featuring a 2x faster tensor accelerator and 2x larger shared memory than its predecessor. Users can capture pro-quality images thanks to intelligently integrated Leica Leitz Look filters—recreating their legendary bokeh effect.
The latest AI-based natural language processing from Hugging Face can intelligently serve as your personal assistant by prioritising and analysing your notifications. Working with Sonde Health, we are using on-device AI to accelerate their models that can analyse a user’s vocal patterns to determine if a user is at risk for health conditions such as asthma, depression, and COVID-19. Also, a new always-on AI system is powered by the 3rd Gen Qualcomm Sensing Hub with more data streams being processed using lowest power AI.
With over 50 Snapdragon Elite Gaming features, Snapdragon 8 delivers ultra-smooth responsiveness, colour-rich HDR scenes at the highest visual quality, and desktop-level capabilities that are mobile-firsts. The new Qualcomm Adreno GPU provides a 30% boost in graphics rendering capabilities and 25% improvement in power savings compared to the previous generation to unlock a new generation of mobile GPUs. The platform delivers, Adreno Frame Motion Engine to can generate twice as many frames while maintaining the same power consumption.
Another mobile-first feature is Variable Rate Shading Pro to provide a finer grain of control for game developers to further tune game performance. Desktop-level Volumetric rendering brings unrivalled realism to fog, smoke, and particle effects that have been optimised for mobile by Qualcomm Technologies’ in-house Snapdragon Studios.
Users can experience a new class of crisp, crystal-clear voice and music with integrated Bluetooth 5.2 and Snapdragon Sound Technology, now featuring Qualcomm aptX Lossless Technology for CD-quality lossless wireless audio. This is the first Snapdragon mobile platform to support all-new LE audio features such as broadcast audio, stereo recording, and voice back-channel for gaming.
Snapdragon 8 features vault-like security to help keep users’ data protected. This is the first Snapdragon platform to feature a dedicated Trust Management Engine to achieve heightened security and provide additional Root of Trust for apps and services. Snapdragon 8 is also the world’s first mobile platform to feature Android Ready SE—the new standard for digital car keys, drivers’ licenses, and more.
Additionally, the Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit features support for iSIM, an integrated SIM card so users can easily and securely connect to cellular networks without a SIM card.
Livestream replays of the event can be seen at the Snapdragon Tech Summit Hub here, although at time of publication, the event is still happening live!