the gaming performance of mid-range smartphones will explode


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With its Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2, Qualcomm promises an impressive doubling of the graphics power of its mid-range chip. Progress that benefits all other components of the mobile SoC. This chip should shine an entire generation of terminals. But will it be able to counter the rise of MediaTek?

It’s not a high-end component, but the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 is an important processor. With the announcement of the refresh of its mid-range mobile chip, Qualcomm promises the biggest intergenerational performance jump in recent years! This second generation replaces the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 and promises a lot. With doubled graphics performance in the first place. Yes, you read that right: the new Adreno chip (Qualcomm unfortunately omitted all the details of the nomenclature) promises a performance gain of up to +100%. Unheard of at Qualcomm outside of entry-level chips.

Qualcomm claims its chip as the most powerful Snapdragon 7 ever launched.

Qualcomm claims its chip as “the most powerful Snapdragon 7 ever launched”.

This performance doubling also concerns the NPU, its Hexagon processor (often referred to as DSP at Qualcomm). Responsible for running algorithms of AI training, especially used in image processing (photo, video, camera control, etc.), this new version also benefits from a performance increase of up to +100%.

Details the blocks - and promised performance improvements - of the Snapdragon 7+ Gen2.

Details the blocks – and promised performance improvements – of the Snapdragon 7+ Gen2.

If the generational evolutions of the CPU part (the “processor”, strictly speaking) are more limited, they also go beyond the industry standards: up to +50%. In a very mature field where gains in raw power rarely exceed 15%, Qualcomm scores points again. This is all the more so as the power efficiency of the SoC has been improved by 13%.

A really improved chip

Details the blocks - and promised performance improvements - of the Snapdragon 7+ Gen2.

When generations of chips show a large performance gain between generations, the main factor for these improvements comes from the reduction in the fineness of the engraving. Which (mainly) makes it possible to stack more transistors per mm² chip – and thus make the motor swell. But in the case of the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2, that’s not the case. Or almost, because there is another change. But creamery: After using Samsung’s 4nm LP engraving for the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 1, Qualcomm is sticking with the 4nm “node” but with TSMC.

Read also: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2: Qualcomm just revealed the flagship processor for high-end smartphones of 2023 (November 2022)​

The precedent of TSMC’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1+, more efficient and performant than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 manufactured by Samsung, proved that there are gaps between the two… But the gain barely went beyond 15-20%. The Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2, on the other hand, is a brand new chip, much more complete – new 5G X62 modem, triple ISP Spectra to manage three cameras, etc. – and more muscular than its predecessor. A performance improvement planned from the design of the SoC that can be explained by the market context. A market in which the challenger is increasingly starting to fight.

Pulling the carpet out from under MediaTek?

Sales of SoCs for smartphones from Q3 2021 to Q4 2022. © Counterpoint Research

Sales of SoCs for smartphones from Q3 2021 to Q4 2022. © Counterpoint Research

If Qualcomm is the number 1 in the world by value for Android smartphones, MediaTek leads the way in terms of volumes. Plus, MediaTek is making strides in performance, with Dimensity chips now powering flagship smartphones at the likes of Vivo (X90 Pro). Something unimaginable just five years ago, when chips were limited to entry-level and mid-range, and where perceived performance lagged behind. After holding an X90 Pro, one thing is clear: the Taiwanese now knows how to make high-end chips. And Qualcomm must necessarily feel it.

Read also: Qualcomm predicts: Wi-Fi 7 will be more popular and cheaper than Wi-Fi 6 (March 2023)​

The Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 thus has assets to overshadow the rise of MediaTek. Qualcomm is a more well-known and prestigious company, both among Western and Asian audiences. In addition, much more than MediaTek, Qualcomm does marketing work around its Snapdragon brand. The company has its network of influencers (the “Insiders”), has developed an image and names of technologies around sound (Snapdragon Sound), or mobile video games (Snapdragon Elite Gaming), works directly with game publishers, etc. A Snapdragon 7 + Gen 2 will probably more easily appeal to an audience looking for graphics performance at a reasonable price – gaming smartphones are a huge market in Asia – than a chip from MediaTek. It’s also there, the power of marketing.

With such performance, undoubtedly sufficient for 95% of daily use, the legitimate question is what remains for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. The answer can be found in the margins of smartphone manufacturers. Who, like Qualcomm, are looking for values. If the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 has more than enough juice to be your everyday processor, in fact the terminals equipped with the best screens, the best camera modules (the photo is always in the top 3 customer requests) will obviously be equipped with more expensive chips. But for an audience that doesn’t need the crème de la crème, the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 is a “killer” processor on paper. Which we’re really looking forward to seeing what terminals it will equip. And whether the promises are properly kept!