Why it matters: Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888 isn't the only new mobile SoC on track to grace flagship smartphones in 2021, nor is it the fastest or most advanced. Still, the new Snapdragon 870 could play an important role in Qualcomm's product portfolio this year.

The chipmaker on Tuesday formally introduced the Snapdragon 870 5G mobile platform as a successor to the Snapdragon 865 Plus. The new platform is built on a 7nm manufacturing process and utilizes an "upgraded" Kryo 585 CPU clocked at up to 3.2GHz alongside Adreno 650 graphics.

The package also contains a Snapdragon X55 G5 modem, which supports both sub-6 GHz and mmWave spectrum bands, and the FastConnect 6800 subsystem for Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth audio.

Qualcomm in early December announced the aforementioned Snapdragon 888, its new premium SoC for top-tier devices. Samsung was among the first to adopt the platform, outfitting its new Galaxy S21 line with the 5nm-based package. So why introduce another new platform so soon?

The reasoning likely has to do with the manufacturing process used. The Snapdragon 888 is built on a more advanced 5nm process while the Snapdragon 870 will be produced on the more established 7nm process. This difference alone could lead to significant cost savings and might also help with inventory issues should the Snapdragon 888 prove popular.

Qualcomm said the first commercial devices powered by its Snapdragon 870, from companies including Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo and Xiaomi, are expected to be announced sometime this quarter.

Masthead credit Kobby Dagan