While Qualcomm has integrated several gaming-specific technologies into its Snapdragon mobile processors, on Tuesday the company announced something a little different: a version of its Snapdragon 730 optimized for gaming, dubbed the Snapdragon 730G. Though mobile gaming may be an idle pastime with American consumers, it's a way of life overseas. Over 586 million mobile gamers are in China alone--twice the population of the United States, according to Qualcomm's Hiren Bhinde at Qualcomm's technology summit last December. It isn't clear which phones and mobile devices Qualcomm has in mind for the Snapdragon 730G, but recent gaming phones from Asus ROG and Razer indicate that Qualcomm was designing for what they hope will be a trend. Though most premium smartphones use Qualcomm's 8-series CPUs like the Snapdragon 855, the new 7-series chips are designed for a slightly cheaper but still premium phone.
It's called the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, which just rolls off the tongue, and Qualcomm says it'll offer 10 percent faster CPU performance, 10 percent faster GPU clocks, and -- get this -- use 15 percent less power for "nearly 1 hour" of extra gameplay or, say, 50 minutes of social media browsing. Technically, Qualcomm says it's achieved "up to 30 percent" better power efficiency from both the CPU and GPU, and 20 percent better AI performance per watt, but that doesn't necessarily all transfer into more battery life -- some of it's about performance, too. Qualcomm is particularly touting better sustained performance from the new chip too -- theoretically maintaining its clockspeed for longer as it heats up while gaming or tapping into 5G. Of course, that all depends on how phone manufacturers decide to cool the chip. The company's not breaking down where the extra performance and efficiencies are coming from, but you can see some of the chip's other features in the slide above, even though many of them (like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 10Gbps of theoretical 5G, and 8K HDR video capture) haven't changed from the original Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Qualcomm says it'll live alongside that older chip, so you can probably expect a price premium. Qualcomm's also announcing a new Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 today, suggesting to journalists that it's aimed at gamers with a 20 percent graphics performance boost over the prior gen and the trickle-down of features like its "Adreno Frame Motion Engine" to make games see smoother by interpolating frames.
When Qualcomm announced the upgraded Snapdragon 730G in April, it featured a slightly overclocked Adreno graphics core to differentiate it from the Snapdragon 730. Now, Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 732G takes a similar approach: it tweaks the Kryo CPU core for increased performance. The newest member of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 7-series chips increases the Kryo's clock speed to 2.3GHz, up from 2.2GHz. Qualcomm also says that the Adreno 618 GPU core has been "bolstered" compared to the version found inside the Snapdragon 730G, but didn't provide performance specifics at press time to justify those claims. But the Snapdragon 730, Snapdragon 730G, and Snapdragon 732G are all likely within spitting distance of one another, filling out Qualcomm's midrange rung. All three sit somewhere below the Snapdragon 765G, which PCWorld's Michael Simon tested in late July, concluding that there really wasn't much of a need for flagship smartphones given how much performance the 765G could deliver.
Every December for the last few years, Qualcomm has unveiled its next-generation high-end CPU that ends up powering many flagship smartphones for the first half of the following year. Though 2020 might be different than previous years, the tech product cycle is not letting up. The company is announcing today that its latest premium mobile chipset is the Snapdragon 888, and it'll be in Xiaomi's upcoming Mi 11 flagship. Other companies like LG, OnePlus, Motorola, ASUS, Lenovo and Oppo have "provided their support for Snapdragon 888," Qualcomm said. Though its predecessor is the Snapdragon 865, Qualcomm's latest model number is a departure from sequential increments and an auspicious name in Chinese culture.