Qualcomm’s next-generation mobile processors should help bring flagship features to more midrange devices. The chipmaker has announced two new chips — the Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 and the Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 — that come with AI enhancements and hardware to support 5G.
The Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 is the more powerful of the pair, with the ability to shoot photos at up to 200 megapixels and HDR video recording. It also comes with “intuitive AI assistance” that can help suggest apps and settings based on your activity. Qualcomm says its SoC (system on a chip) CPU is up to 40 percent better than the Snapdragon 695 it released last year, while the GPU is up to 35 percent better.
The Snapdragon 4 Gen 1, on the other hand, seems less focused on gaming, promising multi-day battery life in addition to hardware support for AI voice assistance and the ability to shoot up to 108-megapixel photos. It doesn’t offer too much of a horsepower upgrade from the Snapdragon 480 Plus that came before it, boosting up to 10 percent when it comes to GPU performance and up to 15 percent for CPU performance.
While both chipsets can connect to 5G, only the Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 can use both mmWave and sub-6Ghz 5G for faster connectivity – the 4-series chip is limited to sub-6GHz only. The Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 is also the only one of the two that can use the improved Wi-Fi 6E standard, as the 4 Gen 1 is tethered to the older Wi-Fi 5.
It’s been nearly a year since Qualcomm last released midrange chips (and that was before the complicated naming scheme was overhauled). The Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 is expected to be released at the end of this year, while the 6 Gen 1 is due in early 2023, which makes the timing of the release of these chips a bit interesting. This already makes them both too late to compete with the Tensor chip in the Google Pixel 6A and follows the upcoming Pixel 7 launching in October.
We don’t know of any devices that will use the chips yet, and we probably won’t see one until 2023. On our list of the best phones available for under $500, only one of the four Android options uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU – the OnePlus Nord N20 5G. Of the others, Samsung relied on its own Exynos chipset for the Galaxy A53 5G, while the Galaxy A13 5G and Moto G Stylus (2022) opt for competing hardware from Mediatek, which has recently dented Qualcomm’s market share.