Qualcomm has a new CPU for 2022 Android flagships. It’s called the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and it brings a host of new features and updates. But how does it compare to 2021’s Snapdragon 888? Let’s find out…
Every year, just before Christmas – or in the New Year, usually January or February – Qualcomm takes the wraps off its new CPU platform. In 2021, it was the Snapdragon 888, a chipset that powered nearly all of 2021’s top Android phones – and some cheaper, mid-range ones as well.
In 2022, Qualcomm’s flagship chipset will be the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and it will land inside a wide range of phones from the Samsung Galaxy S222 to the OnePlus 10, as well as a whole host of other Android phones from Xiaomi, RealMe, VIVO, and ASUS.
As the name suggests, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is the “next phase” in Qualcomm’s evolution of its 8XX platform. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 brings a host of improvements and performance tweaks – from like 5G to even more advanced AI and support for 8K HDR video. There’s plenty of new stuff to get excited about, so let’s dig down into the details and find out more about this new platform from Qualcomm.
Improved Adreno GPU
Mobile gaming is a big deal. A few years ago, it really wasn’t – it just felt like an afterthought, something you did on the bus home when you were bored and couldn’t be bothered to read your kindle. Nowadays, mobile gaming is a lot different – it’s now immersive, engaging, and increasing GPU-intensive, thanks to developers consistently pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
For this reason, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is focused on making mobile gaming even better. The new Adreno GPU inside the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is 30% more power-efficient than the 888’s and 25% more powerful. Them’s some pretty tasty-looking stats, so if they end up actually being true, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 will be one hell of an update.
But that’s not all, thanks to something called Variable Rate Shading Pro, the re-jigged Adreno GPU can now deliver twice as many frames per second as the SD888 while using exactly the same amount of power. This is a first for a mobile chipset too, and its inclusion inside the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is a massive boon for game developers – it’ll make games run smoother and look better. Excellent stuff.
Faster, Next-Gen 5G Connectivity
5G is obviously a big deal these days. As the infrastructure evolves and matures, more people will start getting regular access to 5G speeds. The rollout, globally speaking, has been pretty slow. But there should be a noticeable uptick in 2022, with more and more people regularly using 5G on their phones.
With this trend in mind, Qualcomm has updated the 8 Gen 1 with its new 4th-gen Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF System, a modem that is capable of handling up to 10Gbps – which is insane. I mean, 1Gbps internet is considered fast. If 5G ever hits 10Gbps, its current projected glass ceiling, it’ll change everything forever – 10Gbps is ludicrously fast.
The 4th-gen Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF System used inside the Gen 1 chipset also supports more networks, frequencies, and bandwidths on a global scale than the Snapdragon 888. The 888 is still decent for 5G, but it lacks a lot of the Gen 1’s top-end performance features – things like the ability to handle 10Gbps and wider support for networks and bandwidths.
Even More AI Experiences
Qualcomm has been big on AI for years. The 888 featured a raft of AI abilities powered along by Qualcomm’s Hexagon 780 processor and the 6th-generation AI. The Gen 1 uses Qualcomm’s 4th generation AI engine and it is claimed to be two times faster than the 888’s and has twice the memory.
What does all of this mean? How do you use it? The purpose of AI in phones is to make using them easier, more predicative – like, your phone knows what you’re going to do before you do it. That’s the general idea, anyway.
Qualcomm’s new Sensing Hub will capture your activities automatically. And it runs constantly in the background, whereas the 888’s were on-demand. With this new Sensing Hub, you’ll be able to unlock your phone without touching it using facial recognition. Beyond this, the new Sensing Hub uses less power while performing more processes. And if that wasn’t enough, it can even determine if you have COVID 19 as well…
The latest AI-based natural language processing from Hugging Face can intelligently serve as your personal assistant by prioritizing and analyzing your notifications. Working with Sonde Health, we are using on-device AI to accelerate their models that can analyze a user’s vocal patterns to determine if a user is at risk for health conditions such as asthma, depression, and COVID-19Qualcomm
8K HDR Video Support
No one, save for the odd multi-millionaire, has an 8K TV yet. And the reason for this, besides the cost, is relatively simple: there’s no commercial 8K content available yet – everything is still 4K and 1080p.
But that hasn’t stopped phone manufacturers from pushing 8K video. Quite a few 2020 Android flagships could shoot 8K video. But in 2022, you’ll have far better support for shooting 8K video with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Gen 1 platform which includes the first commercial 18-bit mobile ISP, capturing over 4000x more camera data than its predecessor for extreme dynamic range, color, and sharpness at staggering speeds up to 3.2 gigapixels per second.
The Gen 1 also has support for capturing 8K HDR video. And the video you capture in 8K HDR will have over a billion shades of color. There’s a new Bokeh Engine too which adds beautiful soft backgrounds to videos; it’s like Portrait Mode for video capture. And no other chipset has any of these features either, so the Gen 1 is something of a trailblazer in this context.
Is It Better Than Apple’s A15?
At this point, it is impossible to say whether the Snapdragon Gen 1 is faster than the A15 because the Gen 1 is not yet available inside phones, so no testing can be done. But it is worth noting that Apple’s A14 was leagues ahead of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 with respect to performance. And given Apple’s dominance in the CPU market, we don’t expect this to change between the Gen 1 and the A15.
The gap might be closed slightly, and the Gen 1 offers things the A15 does not, like support for 8K HDR video and more advanced AI features, but with respect to overall power and performance, I’d be willing to bet my house that Apple’s A15 CPU is still a better overall performer than Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Gen 1.
Either way, we won’t have long to wait. The first phones running Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon Gen 1 CPU will start landing in Q1 2022, and one of the first – and most exciting – will be the Samsung Galaxy S22 which is expected to get a launch inside early Q1 2022.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.