Smartphone manufacturers have just been given a new high-end SoC option for their 2021 smartphone lineups with the introduction of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 870. While the Snapdragon 888 is expected to be the go-to chipset for the majority of flagship devices in 2021, the Snapdragon 870 already has manufacturers like OnePlus, Motorola, Oppo, iQOO and Xiaomi lines up to use it with the first smartphones slated to hit the market later in Q1.
As you’ve expected from the name, the Snapdragon 870 is a step up from the 865 from last year. But the differences aren’t as substantial as you might think. Looking at the features of the chipset, the new Snapdragon 870 seems to be a rebranded Snapdragon 865 Plus with a slightly higher clock speed, using the same Qualcomm Kryo 585 CPU and Qualcomm Adreno 650 GPU that both SD865 chipsets used.
For reference, the Snapdragon 865 Plus delivered a 9.15% clock speed boost over the Snapdragon 865 which resulted in a 10% performance boost to the CPU and GPU. The new Snapdragon 870 will be clocked at 3.2Ghz which makes it 3.2% faster than the SD865 Plus and 12.6% faster than the result SD865. That’s not nearly as impressive as the 25%-35% improvements we’ve seen with the SD888, but it should give manufacturers a slightly cheaper 7nm chipset to fall back on if Qualcomm and Samsung run into supply shortages on the new 5nm Snapdragon 888.
What remains to be seen is what the price difference between Snapdragon 888 and Snapdragon 870 smartphones will be. Samsung and Xiaomi have already unveiled flagship devices using the Snapdragon 888 which are at least $200 cheaper than previous generation devices using the Snapdragon 865. One of the reasons for this is that the 888 features an integrated 5G modem which allows for fewer components, reducing the manufacturing cost of the phone. The new Snapdragon 870 will maintain a separate 5G modem which means manufacturing costs should remain the same if Qualcomm continues to charge the same price for the 870 as it did for the 865 last year.
The good news is that Qualcomm is treating the 870 as a new chipset which means it will support Android 11 right out of the gate and should be on the list to receive 3 major Android updates and 4 more years of security updates.