Qualcomm has just revealed two new chips you can anticipate seeing on spec sheets for upcoming Android phones. The Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 is brand new, bringing the 700 series into the “Gen” era, and bound for just-sub-flagship phones more of us can afford. But the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is a return to the out-of-cycle flagship chip refresh, upgrading Qualcomm’s best chipset with a new TSMC node that delivers a small clock speed bump and power improvements.
Full disclosure: Qualcomm shipped me and dozens of other reporters and analysts to its 5G Summit, where we were briefed and played with reference devices running the 8+ Gen 1 platform. There was a 5G cheese-and-fruit display that we all took photos of but which no one ate from.
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
Sometimes, Qualcomm jumps in during the middle of a product’s life to release a slightly souped-up version of its flagship chip, and this is one of those years. The new Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is the same chip you know from phones like the Galaxy S22 Ultra or OnePlus 10 Pro but made using a slightly better node, delivering some small performance increases.
In terms of design, I was told the 8+ Gen 1 is essentially identical to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, with the same modem, ISP, Wi-Fi, and audio technologies supported. Comparing specs, they’re basically the same. The only substantial difference is that this time it’s made by TSMC instead of Samsung’s foundries. TSMC has a decent edge right now over Samsung when it comes to its high-end 4nm node, and that means this chip has a little extra headroom to push performance and clock speeds within the same thermal envelope. (MediaTek actually beat Qualcomm to announce a chip with TSMC’s 4nm node with the Dimensity 9000.) All of this is a complicated way of saying the 8+ Gen 1 can run slightly faster than the “old” version.
Improvements will vary based on the use case, but most of the clock speeds for parts have been bumped slightly here. Qualcomm says this means up to 10% better CPU performance and up to 10% better GPU performance, and my own testing seems to indicate the same. Performance per watt is reportedly improved by 20%, resulting in other gains, with the company claiming it’s up to 30% more efficient in certain workloads. That means this new version can consume less power and potentially run cooler outside demanding use cases.
I don’t want to reiterate everything the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 does when discussing this tweak to the formula, but it has most of the same specs. The ISP can simultaneously capture from three cameras and supports up to 200MP resolutions. It has an X65 modem that can pull up to 10Gbps down in carrier aggregation circumstances you will never see in real life, and has support for Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, and display resolutions up to 4K 60Hz. There’s still no hardware AV1 decode, as in the case of the 8 Gen 1. You know the features of this chip, and if not, you can read all the details in last year's announcement, they haven't changed.
Benchmarks aren’t drastically important in themselves, but some of us came together at Qualcomm’s event to test and average numbers between a few test/reference devices to measure the precise level of improvement TSMC's 4nm node brings. (Thanks: Myriam Joire, Nirave Gondhia, Hadlee Simons, and Christian de Looper)
|Benchmark||8 Gen 1||8+ Gen 1|
|Geekbench Single Core||1226||1326|
|Geekbench Multi Core||3797||4208|
Performance improvements vary, but up to 10% seems generally accurate.
You don’t need to rush out and buy a new phone if you’re running a Galaxy S22 series with the Samsung-made 8 Gen 1; these aren’t drastic changes. But new phones may opt for this new version of the chip rather than the old one and enjoy small but real performance improvements and potentially better battery life.
Qualcomm didn't give us a schedule for when we can expect to see this souped-up version of the chip in devices, but I don't think we'll be waiting long, given recent leaks.
Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
Qualcomm has also delivered the 700 series into the brave new “Gen” era. The Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 is still a premium chip, but not the super-flagship grade you’d expect from the 8 Gen 1 or 8+ Gen 1.
The ISP on the 7 Gen 1 still supports up to three simultaneous cameras, but with a 14-bit interface, not 18. It supports up to 200MP capture, though, with up to 10-bit photo or video depth and video recording up to 4K HDR at 30 FPS.
It’s equipped with the X62 modem that Qualcomm launched last year together with the X65 that’s in the 8 Gen 1 and 8+ Gen 1. In broad strokes, it supports many of the same technologies but with reduced mmWave carrier aggregation and more limited bandwidth, supporting a maximum of 4.4Gbps rather than 10. That means potentially reduced “peak” performance in certain specific use cases, but in real-world applications, customers probably won’t notice a difference. You’ve got Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 courtesy of the same FastConnect platform the bigger 8 Gen 1 has.
In official marketing materials, the chipset merely has “Kyro” cores, but the configuration uses the new-ish A710s and A510’s in an asymmetrical configuration:
- 1 “Prime” A710 at 2.4GHz
- 3 “Performance” A710s at 2.36GHz
- 4 “Efficiency” A510s at 1.8GHz
Unlike the flagship Gen 8, there’s no super-big Cortex X2 core inside, and the “Prime” and “Performance” cores don't sound very different, but this is a typical configuration for Samsung’s recent 700 series parts. The Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 is made on a 4nm Samsung node.
GPU performance is likely a little reduced, and it doesn’t support the same super-high resolutions its big brother does, limited to “FHD+” at 144Hz or “QHD+” at 60Hz, with hardware decode for H265 and VP9 (still no AV1) and HDR. Charging technology is cut down slightly as well, supporting only up to Quick Charge 4+. Most of these specs are still an improvement (or, at worst, the same) as the Snapdragon 780G, but not quite up to the level of the 8 Gen 1.
While we have to wait a little while to see these new chipsets land in a device most of the time, that’s not the case here. Qualcomm tells us that devices running the 7 Gen 1 will be on shelves and available to buy in just the next few weeks, and brands from OnePlus to Motorola are already building devices that will use it.