Snapdragon 870: Qualcomm surprises with “new” smartphone chip

To the surprise of many observers, Qualcomm presented the Snapdragon 870 in the past few hours. A look at the details shows how small the differences to the Snapdragon 865+ are.

The technical specifications of Qualcomm’s new system-on-a-chip quickly reveal that it is only a slightly modified version of the Snapdragon 865+. Specifically, the US company’s engineers have increased the clock speed of the primary CPU core from 3.09 GHz in the 865+ to now 3.2 GHz in the Snapdragon 870. There were no changes to the other details.

Snapdragon 870 more like a Snapdragon 865 Plus Plus

This minor adjustment caused some coverage of Qualcomm’s new launch to jokingly refer to the new chip as the Snapdragon 865 Plus Plus. Nothing about the actual CPU or GPU has changed – except for the aforementioned change to the clock speed of one CPU core.

So the Snapdragon 870 has one Cortex A77 core now running at 3.2 GHz, three more Cortex A77 cores running at 2.42 GHz, and four Cortex A55 cores running at 1.8 GHz. The GPU is the familiar Adreno 650, clocked at 670 MHz. The system-on-a-chip is of course also compatible with 5G networks.

However, the higher clocked CPU core should still result in minor performance advantages. Compared to the original 865+, these should be in the small percentage range. Only benchmarks will be able to provide certainty about the improvements. Qualcomm itself talks about “revved-up AI and gaming experiences”:

Proud to introduce the latest member of the #Snapdragon family: the Snapdragon 870 #5G Mobile Platform. With boosted CPU performance, you’ll get revved-up #AI and gaming experiences. Learn more: https://t.co/xNHtVj97Ho pic.twitter.com/SalIg2UOLj

— Qualcomm (@Qualcomm)
January 19, 2021
Better marketing through the Snapdragon 870?

The question now naturally arises as to why Qualcomm decided to make the surprise presentation. AnandTech even calls the presentation “pretty weird”. It’s the first time the company has announced a refresh of an existing design after already unveiling a new top-of-the-line model, it says. The flagship title still goes to the Snapdragon 888, which can already be found in early devices like the Xiaomi Mi 11 in other countries.

One reason for the unveiling may simply be that smartphone manufacturers can now say they’re using a current 2021 chip in their devices. At the same time, they can advertise improved performance. In addition, the internal design changes required when upgrading a smartphone from the 865+ to the 870 could be minor, which should also please vendors.

These manufacturers want to use the SD 870

According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 870 will be used in devices from Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo and Xiaomi, among others. The first models are expected to be announced in the first quarter of 2021, and the company expects these smartphones to be priced below the 800 US Dollar mark.




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