Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon flagship has a change we did not count on

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 method to organizing its varied chip choices has been pretty simple. The primary quantity within the three digit code has referred to the final sequence: 4 and 5 for low-end gadgets, together with sub-$200 telephones; 6 and seven for the mid-tier; and at last 8 for the flagship chipset sequence.

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

It’s a system that has labored moderately effectively, albeit favoring the form of techie viewers that carefully follows the cadence of high-end Android telephones. For the mainstream shopper, in the meantime, Qualcomm has tried to place Snapdragon extra usually as a model to look out for. Total, although, traditionally the chip-maker has been content material to go away that consumer-facing aspect to its handset companions.

With current adjustments within the smartphone section, nevertheless, that technique has paled considerably. On the one hand, corporations like Apple making their very own chipsets have usually 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 clients have moved on to develop their very own chipsets as an alternative. Google’s Tensor chip within the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Professional, for instance, ended the cellphone sequence’ run of Snapdragon energy. With different corporations tipped to be contemplating creating SoCs of their very own, Qualcomm’s must push its personal branding appears extra urgent.

Including to the complexity there’s the blunt indisputable fact that the corporate is operating out of numbers. The successor to the Snapdragon 888 was extensively rumored to be the Snapdragon 898, nudging near the higher restrict of the place Qualcomm may take its present nomenclature system. Reasonably 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 likely 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 principally an anticipated characteristic 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 clients to find and select gadgets powered by Snapdragon,” Qualcomm guarantees. “This implies our cellular platforms will transition to a single-digit sequence and technology quantity, aligning with different product classes – beginning with our latest flagship Snapdragon 8-series platform.”

Thus far, 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 likely be confirmed subsequent week, with the arrival of the brand new 8-series platform.

Branding, after all, is simply a part of Qualcomm’s problem for the years forward. The explosive development in smartphones has been good to the corporate, as has the transition from 4G to 5G. Even now, Qualcomm modems typically discover clients amongst phone-makers which have developed their very own processors, corresponding to in Apple’s current 5G iPhone fashions.

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

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