MWC 2018 | AI for the masses: Qualcomm introduces the Snapdragon 700 Mobile Platform Series
Features such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), enhanced visual and audio processing etc. are usually the domain of flagship SoCs. With the exponential proliferation of smartphones in the midrange price tiers, OEMs and SoCs makers are trying to cram the best possible feature sets while trying to drive the prices down at the same time. In this interesting juncture, Qualcomm has announced the arrival of the Snapdragon 700 Mobile Platform Series with an aim to bridge the gap between the budget 600-series and the top tier 800-series chips. The SoC maker has, however, not revealed the specifications or the exact SKUs that would comprise the 700 Series.
According to Qualcomm, the 700 Series will bring 2x improvements in on-device AI operations compared to the Snapdragon 660. The SoC will boast new architectures for the Hexagon Vector Processor, the Adreno GPU, the Kryo cores, and the Spectra Image Signal Processor (ISP). The improved components should bring in better low-light image capture, AI enabled photo tagging and recognition, and slow motion video capabilities to midrange handsets. The new designs are supposedly 30% more power efficient compared to the Snapdragon 660. The 700 Series also comes with support for Quick Charge 4+ that can charge the phone from 0 to 50% in just 15 minutes. Ultra-fast LTE, support for carrier Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5 are some of the touted connectivity features.
Anandtech reports that the new 700 Series is essentially a chip off the higher-end 600 Series stack. Henceforth, the 600 Series chips with high performing Kryo cores would likely become part of the 700 Series while anything below that based on the ARM Cortex A53 will remain within the 600 Series. Comparisons with the Snapdragon 660 seem to corroborate this fact.
The first 700 Series chips are expected to ship in 1H 2018 implying availability of the first handsets towards the end of Q3 and beginning of Q4 2018. The Qualcomm SoC offering thus starts from the entry-level non-Snapdragon 200 Series, enters into the midrange with the Snapdragon 400, 600, and now 700 Series, and finally tops off with the Snapdragon 800 Series.
Qualcomm is aiming these chips at the upper midrange market, which is humongous in countries like India and China. While the US demographic has mostly sided with flagship devices, mostly due to the advantage of carrier subsidies, smartphone buyers in major Asian markets prefer unlocked devices with the flexibility of changing carriers according to whims and fancies. Qualcomm is targeting this segment as it presents an opportunity to equip Chinese OEMs, whose devices are currently ruling the roost in these markets, with the ability to bring flagship features into more competitive price tiers.
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