Qualcomm's latest mid-range smartphone processors take a cue from the top shelf
Most premium smartphone flagships contain processors from Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 or 835 line. These chips boast perks like more processing power, faster connection speeds, longer battery life, and enhanced photography and gaming. Now, several of those benefits are coming to mid-ranged processors, namely the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 and 630.
Both chipsets contain a few features previously seen only in top-of-the-line 800 tier Snapdragons, such as the Qualcomm Spectra camera ISP, which promises smoother zoom, faster autofocus and vivid, accurate colors in photography. It also means better support for dual-lens cameras, which means that trend could spread to more affordable phones in the near future. The higher-end 660 supports 16 MP + 16 MP dual cameras, while the 630 supports up to 13 MP + 13 MP.
For multimedia, both the 660 and 630 feature technology that improves color accuracy and viewing in bright sunlight, along with support for Hi-Fi audio. With a display port connection, the 660 platform can also be connected to a 4K-supporting television, letting you watch 4K video from your phone on the larger screen.
As far as connection speed, power and performance goes, the new chips are the first of the 600-series to contain a Snapdragon X12 LTE modem, which supports download speeds up to 600 Mbps. RF Front End support, found in both chips, is designed to optimize signal quality, which should improve connectivity in remote places. In addition, the 660 also supports 2x2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which should mean a stronger signal even in indoor spaces with thick brick or concrete walls. Both chips also support Bluetooth 5 and Quick Charge 4.0, which promises up to 50-percent battery life in 15 minutes of charging.
The new chips also contain the Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine SDK, so developers can start bringing machine learning and AI to these platforms.
The Snapdragon 660 updates the the 653 and offers up to twice the amount of data throughput as its predecessor. The Snapdragon 630 updates the 625 processor, currently seen in quality budget phones like the Moto G5 Plus. Qualcomm says the 630 performs up to 10-percent better than the 625.
The Snapdragon 660 is shipping now; the Snapdragon 630 will begin shipping at the end of the month. If smartphone makers push these platforms to their full capabilities, mid-rangers could offer increasingly better value than their premium counterparts.