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Snapdragon 480 Moves 5G to Low End

January 26, 2021

Author: Aakash Jani

Coming off strong 5G sales in 2020, Qualcomm is augmenting its 2021 Snapdragon portfolio with new 5G processors in the 8- and 4-series and new LTE processors in the 6-series. Phones with the new 8-series and 6-series processors will ship later this quarter, while the new low-end phones are already making their way into customer’s hands. The Snapdragon 480 targets phones ranging from $150 to $300, the Snapdragon 678 targets $250–$450 phones, and the Snapdragon 870 handles premium phones starting at $600.

In 2020, 5G-phone sales boomed, reaching 221 million units. More importantly, midrange sales grew by 30%. The 480 is Qualcomm’s first 5G product for low-cost phones, extending this boom down the pricing scale. The new chip replaces the LTE-driven Snapdragon 460. In addition to providing 5G capability, the 480 boasts 35% greater CPU performance and double the GPU performance relative to its predecessor. Qualcomm further differentiates it by offering premium gaming and entertainment features. It manufactures the chip in 8nm technology.

The LTE-powered 678, which refreshes the 675, offers more-subtle upgrades to the CPU and GPU. It has two overclocked Cortex-A76s at 2.2GHz, delivering a 10% lift in single-thread performance and a 6% lift in multicore performance. The chip reprises the Adreno 612 GPU, but we believe it clocks faster to increase throughput.

The 870 is a second refresh of the Snapdragon 865 and features an even-faster prime core than the 865+. The 870 integrates a Cortex-A77 prime core clocked at 3.2GHz; yielding a 4% and 1% boost in single- and multicore performance, respectively. As premium phones (and premium processors) become more expensive, the 870 offers a lower-priced alternative to the 888 while positioning above the mid-premium market, further tiering the market.

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