Qualcomm’s next-generation mobile processors will help bring flagship features to more mid-range devices. The chipmaker announced two new chips — Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 and Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 — that come with AI improvements and hardware to support 5G.
Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 is the more powerful of the pair, capable of shooting images up to 200 megapixels and HDR video capture. It also comes with “natural AI assistance” that helps suggest apps and settings based on your activity. Qualcomm claims that the SoC (system on a chip) CPU performs up to 40 percent better than the Snapdragon 695 released last year, while its GPU performs up to 35 percent better.
On the other hand, the Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 seems less focused on gaming, with hardware support for AI voice assistance as well as multiday battery life and the ability to take up to 108-megapixel photos. It doesn’t offer much of a horsepower upgrade from the Snapdragon 480 Plus that came before it, with a boost of 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 tap into both mmWave and sub-6Ghz 5G for faster connectivity – the 4-series chip is limited to sub-6GHz. The Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 is similarly one of two that can use the improved Wi-Fi 6E standard, while the 4 Gen 1 is stuck with the older Wi-Fi 5.
It’s been almost a year since Qualcomm last released midrange chips (and that was before it fixed its convoluted naming scheme). Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 is expected to come out by the end of this year, while 6 Gen 1 is due in early 2023, making the release timing of these chips a little interesting. This leaves it both too late to compete with the Tensor chip already inside the Google Pixel 6A and behind the upcoming Pixel 7 set to launch in October.
We don’t yet know about devices that use the chips, and we won’t see one until 2023. On our list of the best phones available under $500, only one of the four Android options uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU — the OnePlus Nord N20 5G. Among others, Samsung relies 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 recently entered Qualcomm’s market share.