Qualcomm packs a piece from last year for the “Snapdragon 870”. Last year’s flagship SoC was the Snapdragon 865, and then Qualcomm released the slightly clocked Snapdragon 865+. The Snapdragon 870 appears to be an 865 ++. It̵
Qualcomm has a completely impenetrable product line, so it is difficult to know if any single non-flagship SoC announcement from the company is important. It sounds like this chip will be picked up by some of the more interesting Android OEMs. The press release states that it will “operate a range of flagship devices from key customers, including Motorola, iQOO, OnePlus, OPPO and Xiaomi.” The real flagship SoC is the Snapdragon 888, so Qualcomm’s use of “flagship” here certainly belongs in scary quotes.
Like the 865, this is a 7nm, eight-core chip. The Prime Cortex A77 core is now clocked at 3.2 GHz, and stick to your standard apps, because it is 3 percent faster than the 3.1 GHz Snapdragon 865+! Qualcomm says nothing, so we assume that all the other cores are the same as the Snapdragon 865. This means that there are three more A77 cores at 2.4 GHz and four A55 cores at 1.8 GHz. As with the 865+ model, it sounds like there is still the option of Qualcomm’s latest connectivity chip, giving you the option of an 870 with Wi-Fi 6E.
The Snapdragon 870 is not just similar to the 865 – Qualcomm describes it as “building on the success of the Snapdragon 865 and 865 Plus”, indicating that it is another watch hole with no design changes. 865+ and 870 datasheets also look identical. If this is exactly the same piece, this is a strange decision since the Snapdragon 865 SoC design was a stopgap design. It was created to rush 5G to consumers as quickly as possible, and it came with the 4G / 5G modem on a separate chip. Since the 865 was a large, expensive two-piece solution, you would think that Qualcomm would want it to die as quickly as possible. If we assume that the previous generation chips are dead, the 870 is now the only chip in Qualcomm’s modern series that has a 4G and 5G modem on a separate chip. Every Qualcomm smartphone SoC more expensive than this has a built-in 4G / 5G modem, and every SoC cheaper than this has a built-in modem. Heck, built-in 5G now goes all the way down to the Snapdragon 4 series.
The upcoming OnePlus 9 Lite, a phone that was supposed to be behind the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro, was to come with the Snapdragon 865, but now it is speculated that it will come with this “Snapdragon 870” instead. In countries with marketing logic, I guess Qualcomm’s new model number will prevent random observers from calling this “last year’s piece.” Unfortunately for Qualcomm, marketing has no power here.
In terms of timing, Qualcomm says “Commercial devices based on the Snapdragon 870 are expected to be announced in the first quarter of 2021.”