Earlier today, Google unwrapped a chunk of what the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will bring to the market when the phones launch later this year. Instead of opting for a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, as it has for years, Google is transitioning to its own silicon with the Google Tensor chip. Naturally, the first question you might have is what does this mean for Google and Qualcomm’s partnership.
Although Google didn’t mention Qualcomm at all during its Pixel 6 announcement, Qualcomm confirmed that it will “continue to work closely with Google on existing and future products based on Snapdragon platforms”. This may not seem like it matters all that much, but in reality, the Snapdragon chipset is at the helm of all of the best Android phones to be released in 2021, so far. This includes the Galaxy S21 Ultra, OnePlus 9 Pro, and will include the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3.
In fact, a Qualcomm spokesperson provided the following statement to Android Central in regards to its Snapdragon processors:
“…(Snapdragon chips) remain synonymous with Android flagship mobile experiences, including our partnership with the Samsung Galaxy, Fold, and Flip series.”
It may seem like the relationship between Google and Qualcomm is already in a rocky place, given the current state of the Wear OS platform. Qualcomm hasn’t released a new Snapdragon Wear chip in over a year, but even still, smartwatch and wearable manufacturers have not flocked to the new platform. This has led to speculation that Google and Samsung are working together on another processor, likely derived from the Google Tensor chip, designed for the fabled Pixel Watch.
Just last month, Qualcomm announced its “Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator Program“, in an effort to bring Snapdragon Wear chips to more smartwatches. At the time, we were unsure as to what current crop of smartwatches would be eligible for the upcoming Wear OS 3 update, but we’ve since learned that it will be limited to just a few.
On the other side of the coin, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro will be the first Google Tensor-powered handsets. This means that we’re still likely to see Qualcomm handling the workload whenever the Pixel 5a is finally introduced. Rumors suggest it will be the Snapdragon 765, which would make sense given that Google has been working on the device for so long that it was rumored to be canceled and then confirmed by Google directly all the way back in April.