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The big picture: Qualcomm may be the leading mobile chipmaker at the top end of the market, but in the mid-range, the company faces serious competition from Taiwanese fabless semiconductor company MediaTek, whose SoCs have become increasingly more common in affordable devices, especially in China, India and other international markets.
Qualcomm recently announced the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 mobile chipset for premium mid-range smartphones. It is the second Snapdragon 7-series SoC announced by Qualcomm, and an upgrade over last year's Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 SoC. The company never announced a '+' variant of the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1, nor did it release a standard Snapdragon 7 Gen 2.
In terms of hardware specs, Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 packs an octa-core CPU with a 1+3+4 core configuration that includes a Cortex-X2 Prime core at 2.91GHz, three Cortex-A710 Performance cores at 2.49GHz, and four Cortex A510 Efficiency cores at 1.8GHz.
The new chip also comes with an unspecified Adreno GPU with Vulcan 1.1 support, select Snapdragon Elite Gaming features, and Adreno Frame Motion Engine. The AI duties will be taken care of by the Hexagon DSP that's said to offer up to 2x better AI performance than the last-gen chip.
In terms of performance, Qualcomm did not offer any benchmark results, but claimed the custom Kryo CPU cores will offer more than 50 percent improved performance over its predecessor. The Adreno GPU is said to pack 2x the performance of the last-gen chip.
Qualcomm also claims the new chip is up to 13 percent more power efficient than the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 in "extended daily use," thanks in no small measure to TSMC's 4nm process node. For comparison, the Gen 1 chip was fabricated on Samsung's 4nm process node.
Like its predecessor, the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 also supports LPDDR5 memory (not LPDDR5X) running at 3,200MHz. The new SoC also has an integrated Snapdragon X62 cellular modem with 5G NR sub-6 and mmWave support. Qualcomm claims the modem supports up to 4.4Gbps download speeds and dual-active 5G. Other connectivity features include Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth v5.3.
Photography is one major area of improvement in the new chip, with Qualcomm's triple 18-bit Spectra ISP from the Snapdragon 8 series replacing the 14-bit unit found in the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1. Qualcomm said the change will make for better photos and videos with improved dynamic range. It is also expected to enable brighter shots with less noise in low-light situations.
The Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 will be used by a number of Android vendors, including Xiaomi and BBK Electronics in their Redmi and Realme brands, respectively. Devices powered by the new chipset will start hitting the market before the end of this month.