Qualcomm launched its high-end, absolutely feature-packed and technologically impressive Snapdragon 888 chipset this week. It’ll go on to power most of the big £1000 Android phones next year and its array of upgrades are no doubt mouthwatering. So why am I more excited about the more mid-range options?
When Qualcomm launched the Snapdragon 865 in a lavish hotel on a Hawaiian beach in 2019, it was joined by a second chip – the Snapdragon 765 (and 765G).
Initially, this lacked the headline-grabbing tech held by its illustrious counterpart. A year on though, the Snapdragon 765 might just have been the most important piece of silicon in 2020 as it was almost single-handedly responsible for bringing excellent performance and 5G support to far cheaper phones.
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The launch of the Snapdragon 888 came with no such update to the 765 or the slightly faster 768 – could it end being called the 777? or maybe just the 775 – and that’s a shame. Some rumours do peg it for an early 2021 release, so maybe Qualcomm sees an important chip like this deserves its own stage, rather than piggy-backing onto something else. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to see.
After all, it was the Snapdragon 765 that powered so many of our favourite cheaper and mid-range devices over the past year. It sat at the heart of the ridiculously good value £299 Moto G 5G Plus and powered Google’s Pixel 5 flagship of the year. It was also found in the LG Velvet, OnePlus Nord and loads, loads more. If a phone was running the 765, there was every chance it was going to impress.
Not only was it fantastic for its combination of fast performance and improved graphics for smoother gaming, but it also enabled a far wider range of phones to pack in 5G. With 5G networks all over the world kicking into life and getting more widespread over the past year it was great to have a hefty range of devices supporting the network tech at cheaper price points.
So the successor will come with a lot of expectations and it will no doubt power many of 2021’s most tempting mid-range and more budget orientated phones. We have already had a sort of upgrade to the 765 series in the form of 768, which was announced in May. However, this was a more modest upgrade which we haven’t seen on too many phones.
Of course, the Snapdragon 888 more than stood by itself as the headline announcement from Qualcomm’s Tech Summit. It’s the brand’s first flagship chipset with an integrated 5G modem, packs big speeds improvements both in CPU and GPU and has even more of a focus on AI and security.
Expect to see the first Snapdragon 888 phones hit at the beginning of 2021. We know devices are coming from Oppo, Xiaomi and Realme, with the Samsung Galaxy S21 also expected to pack the chipset in certain regions.