Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon flagship has a change we didn’t expect

Goodbye Snapdragon 898, we didn’t even have time to get to know you. Qualcomm is upending branding for its smartphone chipsets, ditching the now-familiar three digit nomenclature on the eve of its newest Snapdragon flagship being introduced on the upcoming Snapdragon Summit 2021.

Till now, Qualcomm’s strategy to organizing its varied chip choices has been pretty simple. The primary quantity within the three digit code has referred to the overall collection: 4 and 5 for low-end gadgets, together with sub-$200 telephones; 6 and seven for the mid-tier; and eventually 8 for the flagship chipset collection.

The second digit, in the meantime, has referred to era and positioning inside that collection. So, the Snapdragon 888 – introduced finally 12 months’s Snapdragon Summit – was the successor to the Snapdragon 865. The ultimate digit distinguishes smaller variations, typically with a “+” suffix appended as nicely, or as a substitute of a numerical change. The Snapdragon 888+, for instance, is a model of the common 888 with barely sooner CPU clock speeds.

It’s a system that has labored fairly nicely, albeit favoring the kind of techie viewers that intently follows the cadence of high-end Android telephones. For the mainstream client, in the meantime, Qualcomm has tried to place Snapdragon extra typically as a model to look out for. General, although, traditionally the chip-maker has been content material to depart that consumer-facing aspect to its handset companions.

With latest modifications within the smartphone section, nevertheless, that technique has paled considerably. On the one hand, corporations like Apple making their very own chipsets have typically opted for extra simple branding, not least as a result of they don’t must develop the identical array of differentiated SoCs as they haven’t the wide selection of shoppers as Qualcomm does.

On the identical time, a few of the phone-makers who would historically have counted themselves Qualcomm prospects have moved on to develop their very own chipsets as a substitute. Google’s Tensor chip within the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Professional, for instance, ended the cellphone collection’ run of Snapdragon energy. With different corporations tipped to be contemplating growing SoCs of their very own, Qualcomm’s must push its personal branding appears extra urgent.

Including to the complexity there may be the blunt proven fact that the corporate is operating out of numbers. The successor to the Snapdragon 888 was broadly rumored to be the Snapdragon 898, nudging near the higher restrict of the place Qualcomm may take its present nomenclature system. Slightly than let that occur, it appears the corporate has determined to make the change now, with this new flagship chipset paving the way in which for a broader rebrand.

For a begin, Qualcomm and Snapdragon are being separated out. “Snapdragon will probably be a standalone product model with particular ties to the Qualcomm model the place acceptable,” Qualcomm explains. It’ll revamp its varied iconography, and add new colours to its palette. Gold, for instance, will now solely be used for “premium-tier” chips, and 5G received’t be known as out particularly because it’s mainly an anticipated function at this stage.

As for the three digit names, they’re being retired. “A brand new simplified and constant naming construction for our platforms makes it simpler for our prospects to find and select gadgets powered by Snapdragon,” Qualcomm guarantees. “This implies our cellular platforms will transition to a single-digit collection and era quantity, aligning with different product classes – beginning with our latest flagship Snapdragon 8-series platform.”

To this point, Qualcomm is giving us half the Snapdragon title story. What we don’t know is what it’ll be changing the outdated system with: that will probably be confirmed subsequent week, with the arrival of the brand new 8-series platform.

Branding, in fact, is just a part of Qualcomm’s problem for the years forward. The explosive progress in smartphones has been good to the corporate, as has the transition from 4G to 5G. Even now, Qualcomm modems usually discover prospects amongst phone-makers which have developed their very own processors, comparable to in Apple’s latest 5G iPhone fashions.

Nonetheless, Apple and others are recognized to be seeking to in-house modem growth too, and Qualcomm clearly can’t rely on its Snapdragon legacy to make sure that it’s the go-to for Android telephones. Whereas a branding change might assist, an enormous focus of subsequent week’s occasion is prone to be positioning the corporate as not solely a provider inside the smartphone area however an innovator, because it balances making an attempt to push its personal merchandise into the limelight with out concurrently overshadowing the shoppers it nonetheless has.

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