Qualcomm rebrands last year’s flagship SoC as the “Snapdragon 870” | GeekComparison

A stylized promotional image of a computer chip on a motherboard.

Qualcomm is repacking a chip from last year in the ‘Snapdragon 870’. Last year’s flagship SoC was the Snapdragon 865, and then Qualcomm released the slightly overclocked Snapdragon 865+. The Snapdragon 870 appears to be an 865++. It’s another clock strike.

Qualcomm has a totally impenetrable product line, so it’s hard to know if a single non-flagship SoC announcement from the company is significant. It sounds like this chip will be picked up by some of the more interesting Android OEMs. The press release says it will power “a selection of flagship devices from key customers, including Motorola, iQOO, OnePlus, OPPO and Xiaomi.” The true flagship SoC is the Snapdragon 888, so Qualcomm’s use of “flagship” definitely belongs in scare quotes here.

Like the 865, this is a 7nm chip with eight cores. The Prime Cortex A77 core is now clocked at 3.2GHz and stick to your benchmark apps as that’s 3 percent faster than the 3.1Ghz Snapdragon 865+! Qualcomm says nothing, so we assume all other cores are the same as the Snapdragon 865. That means three more A77 cores at 2.4 Ghz and four A55 cores at 1.8 Ghz. As with the 865+ model, it sounds like there’s still the option for Qualcomm’s latest connectivity chip, giving you the option of an 870 with Wi-Fi 6E.

The Snapdragon 870 isn’t just similar to the 865 in specs — Qualcomm describes it as “building on the success of the Snapdragon 865 and 865 Plus,” indicating it’s just another regular clock bump with no design changes. The datasheets 865+ and 870 also look identical. If this is the exact same chip, it’s an odd decision considering the Snapdragon 865 SoC design was a stopgap. It was created to bring 5G to consumers as quickly as possible, and it came with the 4G/5G modem on a separate chip. Since the 865 was a big, expensive two-chip solution, you’d think Qualcomm would want to let it die ASAP. Assuming the previous-generation chips are dead, the 870 is now the only chip in Qualcomm’s modern lineup with a 4G and 5G modem on a separate chip. Any Qualcomm smartphone SoC that is more expensive than this has a built-in 4G/5G modem, and any SoC that’s cheaper than this has a built-in modem. Heck, onboard 5G is now going all the way down to the Snapdragon 4 series.

The upcoming OnePlus 9 Lite, a phone that is said to be behind the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro, was supposed to come along with the Snapdragon 865, but now there is some speculation that it will come with this “snapdragon 870” instead. In the land of marketing logic, I think Qualcomm’s new model number will deter casual observers from calling this “last year’s chip.” Unfortunately for Qualcomm, marketing has no power here.

In terms of timing, Qualcomm says that “Commercial devices based on Snapdragon 870 are expected to be announced in the first quarter of 2021.”

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