Qualcomm has unveiled its newest flagship processor for the next group of premium Android phones and as at all times, the Snapdragon 888 brings a slew of enhancements over the 865 in addition to a larger-than-expected leap in numbering all the best way as much as 888. Granted, Qualcomm hasn’t actually caught to a deliberate naming scheme for its chips, however the previous few variations (starting with the 835) have elevated by a a number of of 10. Skipping 23 numbers indicators that the Snapdragon chipset is coming into a brand new period in its improvement.
So why 888? The most rational reply is due to China. The tradition locations important emphasis on numbers. OnePlus went from the 3T to the 5 as a result of the quantity for “4” sounds too near the phrase for “death” in Chinese, for instance—and it doesn’t get any extra superstitious than the quantity 8. Since 888 interprets to triple fortune, it’s extraordinarily fortunate in Chinese numerology.
But whereas respecting Chinese superstitions is sensible for OnePlus, Qualcomm is a U.S. firm, which makes the selection of 888 for its Snapdragon numbering system slightly curious. While there are some wonderful Snapdragon-based handsets popping out of China, the Snapdragon 8 Series processors have historically powered among the greatest U.S. telephones from Samsung, LG, and Google, and we assumed that might proceed with the subsequent era of chips.
That won’t be the case. While Qualcomm’s announcement was crammed with the same old rhetoric about how the 888 will “will set the benchmark for flagship smartphones in 2021,” there was a conspicuous lack of firms who promote telephones within the U.S. among the many record of early adopters, chief amongst them Samsung. While that might simply be for a dramatic entrance, there’s lots of proof to counsel Qualcomm is shedding its greatest companion.
The Snapdragon 888 is well the best processor Qualcomm has ever made, a minimum of on paper. Along with a 25-percent efficiency enhance and 35 % quicker graphics rendering in comparison with the 865, it options an built-in third era Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System, which can “deliver the world’s fastest commercially available 5G speeds, up to 7.5 Gbps” and do a greater job with warmth and energy calls for.
Also on board is “the biggest architectural leap forward in AI” with the sixth-gen Qualcomm AI engine in addition to Spectra 580 ISP, the primary to function a triple Image Signal Processor able to capturing three photographs or 4K HDR movies on the similar time. And you’ll get safety enhancements, gaming boosts, and OLED enhancements, Wi-Fi 6e help, and “a new class of crisp, reliable and responsive audio.”
Those are all options and enhancements that might make the Galaxy S21 fairly unbelievable, however this yr Samsung won’t be on board. It’s not simply that the corporate wasn’t a part of Qualcomm’s announcement. It’s additionally that Samsung has but to announce its next-generation Exynos flagship processor, which normally arrives within the fall forward of Qualcomm’s latest chip.
Rumored to be named the Exynos 2100, Samsung has reportedly re-engineered the chip with a custom AMD Radeon GPU and the identical Cortex-X1 CPU that powers the 888. Samsung has historically struggled to meet the graphics and power efficiency benchmarks that Qualcomm delivers in its 8 Series chips, but when the corporate has solved these points with the 2100, it may very well be a game-changer. Qualcomm’s phrases and pricing have been notoriously strict with the 865, resulting in some sky-high costs for Samsung’s top-of-the-line handsets, and switching to its personal home-grown chips might alleviate these prices.
Those rumored specs would lastly carry Samsung’s top-of-the-line Exynos chip, which already powers a lot of its abroad flagship telephones, as much as a degree enjoying discipline with Qualcomm’s newest and biggest processor. And if that’s the case, it could lastly be prepared for the demanding U.S. viewers and will push Qualcomm out of the high-end Galaxy lineup for good, which might be an enormous blow for the chipmaker.
Squeezed from each ends
Earlier this yr, Google made the shocking transfer to make the Pixel 5 a mid-range telephone slightly than a premium one, choosing the slower Snapdragon 765G over the 865 to maintain prices down. Google will most likely persist with that development in 2021, assuming Qualcomm declares a successor earlier than Google the Pixel 6 launches subsequent fall.
So that might depart LG and OnePlus as the principle flag bearers for the 888 within the U.S. with the G9 ThinQ and 9 Pro, respectively. Those are fantastic telephones, however they each will probably be very depending on carriers. LG stopped providing unlocked fashions with the Wing, giving the carriers full management over pricing, bloatware, and updates. And OnePlus has an on-again-off-again relationship with U.S. carriers not named T-Mobile, with none of OnePlus’s 2020 telephones delivering help for Verizon’s mmWave networks.
And if the subsequent Exynos chip is pretty much as good as rumored, it might put much more strain on Qualcomm going ahead. Samsung already licenses its chips for Motorola telephones, and there are rumors that Oppo and Xiamoi may very well be subsequent. While these telephones will probably be funds fashions to start out, it reveals an rising rift between Qualcomm and Samsung, which not too way back have been main companions on chip design and fabrication. If Samsung can supply comparable speeds at a lower cost, Qualcomm’s dominance amongst middling telephone makers like LG and Sony might begin to fade.
We’ve already seen what Apple can do with an in-house chip, so Qualcomm has motive to be involved. Of course, till Samsung declares the Galaxy S21 we gained’t know for positive what chip is inside it, but it surely’s trying prefer it gained’t be the Snapdragon 888. Even whether it is, it’s clear that Qualcomm is more and more seeking to China to shore up its premium chip gross sales. And its fortunes won’t relaxation on the Snapdragon 888’s benchmarks and pricing, however on Samsung.