People are generally attracted to a brand for its top range products. It creates a halo effect around that brand, because it speaks “attractiveness” to a consumer. But many people don’t need the top range power of today’s electronics. This is true of both computers and smartphones. The meat of the market is where the mid-range products sit. Android users understand this, as does Qualcomm. It’s been improving its system-on-chip offerings for mid-range phones for some time, and the new Snapdragon 710 is its latest in that space.
The Snapdragon 710 is a direct evolution of last year’s mid-to-high end offering from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 660. As the system’s performance capabilities increased, so must the number in its branding. This is meant to signify that it’s only a little slower, a little less capable than the relatively new Snapdragon 845. This continued stratifying of Qualcomm’s chips means clearer delineation of its products, with more budget offerings remaining on the 600 tier branding.
So what’s changed? For starters, the four big and four small cores of the 660 has gone. This has been replaced by two big cores running at 2.2GHz and six smaller cores at 1.7GHz on the Snapdragon 710. These cores are also based on the improved Kryo 360 architecture. Overall performance looks to be improved by 20 to 25 per cent, depending on the application.
Graphics performance should also get a boost. The older Adreno 512 has been replaced by the 616. With a clockspeed of around 750MHz, this should boost graphics performance by around 35 per cent. All in all, a good set of figures.
But that’s not all. A regular complaint about mid-range phones is the installation of mid-ranged cameras. While flagship devices boast about camera capabilities, those sitting in the middle tend to have to make do with cameras that are “meh” at best. The Snapdragon 710 increases the capabilities of it’s camera support. It can run a single 32 megapixel unit, or a dual 20 megapixel camera array. This is a drastic improvement over the single 24 megapixel support of the Snapdragon 660.
While more consumer choice is definitely interesting, it won’t get exciting until new products arrive. The Snapdragon 660 is featured in a large selection of phones, most of which are Asian market devices. But a great many are nice devices to have; the Oppo R11s Plus, the Nokia 7 and any of the Xiaomis.
The launch of the Snapdragon 710 platform will mean that mid-range smartphones are going to get a performance and capability kick this year. With the expected product refresh period for many of these devices coming up, competition should be intense. Long live the decently priced and competent mid-range smartphone.