As part of their Mobile World Congress 2018 presentation this morning, Qualcomm is ever so slightly taking the wraps off of a new tier of Snapdragon platform SoCs. Dubbed the Snapdragon 700 Mobile Platform Series, the new tier in the Snapdragon SoC family is meant to better bridge the gap between the existing 600 and 800 series, offering many of the latter’s premium features at a lower price point. However just how well it bridges that gap remains to be seen, as Qualcomm is not announcing any specific processor configurations today, just the existence of the new tier.

Currently Qualcomm’s SoC stack is split between four lines: the non-Snapdragon entry-level 200 series, and then the Snapdragon-branded 400, 600, and 800 series, encompassing the mid-range to performance markets respectively. With the addition of the 700 series, Qualcomm is essentially further sub-dividing the Snapdragon family, carving out a sub-premium brand below the flagship 800 series, but above the current 600 series.

In their short press release, the company is stating that the goal of the new Snapdragon 700 series platforms is to offer the type of premium features found in the 800 series SoCs in a cheaper part for lower-priced devices. The usual price/volume logic aside, Qualcomm’s press release specifically notes the China market as being a focus, which for Qualcomm makes quite a bit of sense given its continued rapid growth and somewhat lower purchasing power parity than the western markets where flagship 800 series-based phones dominate. As for what those features will be, Qualcomm is making special mention of their AI feature suite – the Qualcomm AI Engine – though the underlying CPU/GPU/DSP components are already part of existing 600 series SoCs as well as the 800 series. None the less, it’s clear that Qualcomm is looking to establish a tier of SoCs that are slower, cheaper, but still at or near feature parity with the 800 series.

Unfortunately as Qualcomm isn’t announcing specific SoCs at this time, hard technical details are few. Of the handful of figures included in Qualcomm’s announcement, they compare it at multiple points to the Snapdragon 660, touting 2x the “AI performance” and 30% better power efficiency than the fastest member of Qualcomm’s current 600 series stack. The announcement also notes that the company will be using new architectures for the CPU, GPU, and ISP blocks, so for the new parts we’re expecting to see versions of Qualcomm’s Kryo 385 CPU, Adreno 600 GPU, and Spectra 200 ISP respectively. On which note we’re still waiting for the first Snapdragon 845 devices to ship, but based on our early impressions, the Adreno 600 series GPU architecture in particular has proven quite capable and could turn some heads in a cheaper SoC as well.

With all of that said, while Qualcomm is pitching this as a new product offering, after chatting with our always awesome senior mobile editor Andrei Frumusanu, I suspect what we’re seeing here is not Qualcomm commissioning a fifth line of SoCs, but rather bifurcating the 600 series. Whereas the 800 series has in recent years consisted of just a single current-generation design – i.e. the newly launched Snapdragon 845 – the 600 series has typically offered 2 or 3 different chips, sometimes with widely differing specifications. Case in point, the current Snapdragon 630 is a Cortex-A53 part while the Snapdragon 660 includes a quartet of high-performance Kryo cores. Splitting these into more distinct mid-range and sub-premium tiers would likely help Qualcomm and its partners better differentiate the two and position the 700 series as a more powerful option without having its lower-performing sibling muddle things. So following today’s announcement – and especially the Snapdragon 660 comparisons – I wouldn’t be in any way surprised if the rumored Snapdragon 670 ends up being a 700 series part, while its 640 counterpart remains in the 600 series.

Anyhow, while Qualcomm isn’t talking about a shipping date at this point, they are announcing that commercial sampling for the Snapdragon 700 series will kick off in the first half of this year. So like 2017’s Snapdragon 660 and 630, I would expect that retail devices containing the new SoCs will show up before the end of the year.

Source: Qualcomm

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  • Valantar - Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - link

    Quite possible. There's no reason the rebranding should come with a price hike, so if this means we'll see the line of chips previously known as the Snapdragon >650 line in some actual shipping hardware from serious brands, I'm all for it. 80-90% of flagship performance in somewhat above-midrange phones? Yes please.
  • serendip - Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - link

    The last time 65x chips were used widely was Xiaomi used the 650/652 in the Redmi Note 3 and Mi Max. $150-200 for 80% of flagship performance was insane. It's telling that the successors to both models used a cheaper, slower 625.

    It could be that the 65x devices got too close to flagship performance at half the price. The 660 and 670 chips look likely to repeat the same scenario, providing almost flagship performance for midrange or even budget prices. Maybe Qualcomm want to move these towards 700 branding so they and OEMs can charge higher prices.
  • teldar - Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - link

    Yes. I also think this is likely. As an aside I've been looking to get a new phone soon. I've got a Oneplus One. It's over 4 years old now. I'd been thinking about the Moto G6 Plus because there were rumors it was going to use the SD660. Now I'm thinking it's either going to be a new Nokia 6 Plus or the Oneplus 5T. The nokia uses the 660 and the 5T uses the 835. I'd be happy with either.
  • serendip - Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - link

    The Mi Max 3 is supposed to use a 660 with a bigger 18:9 7" display and a monster 5500 mAh battery pack. I don't think anyone else has those specs on a budget model.

    The 660 is basically a 14nm version of the 652 so it should be screaming fast and still efficient. A 670 with A55 and A75 cores would be nice but that's only just been announced, so shipping devices could be a year away.
  • ZolaIII - Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - link

    Last time Xiaomi had competition, now QC has multiple competition coming from both MTK & Samsung. While new MTK P offering seams charming real threat is last years big miss the X30 that MTK is now selling with a big discount.
    This year will be much more interesting regarding SoC's.
  • serendip - Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - link

    Mediatek need to be more open with GPL licensing and they need more efficient designs. The X20 in the Redmi Note 4 has 4x+4x A53 and 2x A72; the 650 in the Redmi Note 3 Pro has 4x A53 and 2x A72, yet the older phone is both more efficient and has higher performance.

    A decacore chip is a bit of a joke... I know because I was a longtime user of the original Redmi Note with the MT6592's 8x A7 and that was maddeningly slow compared to a Snapdragon 410 with 4x A7.
  • Wardrive86 - Thursday, March 1, 2018 - link

    SD410 had 4 x A53
  • ZolaIII - Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - link

    To put it simple; their will be a price hike compared to the current 14nm S6xx offering as it will be both 10 nm and with 33% bigger GPU which account for about 20~25% of whole SoC. S650/652/653 ware cheap thanks to old planar 28 nm lithography. It's possible to do it again with FD-SOI but none of the vendor's is even trying to do it. 22nm FD-SOI is able to out match the 10nm FinFET regarding power consumption if it's used with back biosing and as the both front and back end for both digital, RF and mixed block's wile retaining frequencies used in the midrange SoC's.
  • serendip - Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - link

    The 65x series was a crazy idea, using an old process with new architecture to get a speedy chip at lower cost. If an old 28nm chip is almost as good as a 14nm flagship...

    I think it all comes down to sales and marketing. Intel and Qualcomm behave similarly, they put financial considerations above technical ones. Qualcomm would make less money making a load of 66x or 67x chips on 22nm compared to pushing 84x on 10nm.
  • Dragonstongue - Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - link

    no matter what likely it will be using too many cpu cores etc, strapped into a stupid easy to break mostly glass type "smartphone" that chews through its battery life more then it should.

    New and modern is a good thing, but not when it comes at the cost of durability day to day functionality and the privilege of paying more than one should for something that is engineered to fail in many ways.

    "paper thin, half the weight 8 cores, a battery that lasts half as long as it should because we do not bother to test the OS, we removed the headphone jack because of some BS reasoning, we cram as many pixels as possible into the screen even when we did not need to do this, say hello to the new for 20xx model Y phone..get it today while you still have money in your wallet"

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