Qualcomm’s “Snapdragon 8s Gen 3” cuts down the company’s flagship SoC

Enlarge / The promo image for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 chip.


Qualcomm’s newest smartphone SoC is the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3. Years of iPhone “S” upgrades might lead you to assume this was a mid-cycle refresh to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, but Qualcomm says the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 is a “specially curated” version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. That means it’s a slightly slower, cheaper chip than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, which is still Qualcomm’s best smartphone chip.

The older, better Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 has a core layout of one 3.3 GHz “Prime” Arm Cortex X4 core, five “medium” A720 cores (three at 3.2 GHz, two at 2.0 GHz), and two “small” 2.3 GHz A520 cores for background processing. This new “S” chip swaps a medium core for a small one, for a 1+4+3 configuration instead of 1+5+2. Everything is clocked lower, too: 3 GHz for the Prime core, 2.8 GHz for all the medium cores, and 2 GHz for the small cores.

The modem is downgraded to an X70 instead of the X75 in the 8 Gen 3 chip. That theoretically means a lower max download speed (5Gbps instead of 10) but since you would actually need to be granted those speeds by your carrier, It’s not clear anyone would ever notice this. It also sounds like the X70 is more power-hungry, since it only has “Qualcomm 5G PowerSave Gen 3” instead of “Qualcomm 5G PowerSave Gen 4” on the flagship chip. We don’t think Qualcomm has ever given a technical explanation of what this means, though. The SoC is still 4nm, just like the 8 Gen 3. Video maxes out at 4K now instead of 8K.

Qualcomm says “Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 will be adopted by major OEMs including Honor, iQOO, realme, Redmi and Xiaomi, with commercial devices expected to be announced in the coming months.” That should tell you where this chip is headed: the “budget flagship” phones that are popular with Chinese OEMs.

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