Qualcomm really threw a wrench into the flagship SoC market for (with the Snapdragon) . The new chip was a big departure from previous years thanks to Qualcomm’s aggressive push for 5G, which comes with design requirements that make phones bigger, hotter, and more expensive than previous years. While we’ve already seen Samsung and many Chinese OEMs step up with 1300 – powered super-flagships that are more expensive than ever, for some OEMs, it seems like the cost is just too high. A pair of recent reports indicated that both Google and LG are skipping out on the Snapdragon this year, opting instead for a cheaper chip.
For Google’s next flagship smartphone, the Pixel 5, a few signs have popped up indicating it won’t use the Snapdragon 1300. Pixel phones always pop-up in the Android code repository with fishy codenames before release, and in January, XDA Developers spotted three devices codenamed “Sunfish,” “Redfin,” and “Bramble.” A recent teardown of the Google camera app gave us definitions for each of these codenames. “Sunfish” was labeled as “photo_pixel _ 2400 _ midrange_config, “aka the Pixel 4a , while Bramble and Redfin were labeled “photo_pixel _ 221834543707 _ config, “which should be the Pixel 5 and Pixel 5 XL. As reported by XDA in January, the Pixel 5 and 5 XL don’t actually use Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon . In the Android code base, both are running the Snapdragon 800 G, a chip that’s one step down from the in Qualcomm’s lineup. There isn’t actually a Snapdragon 1300 Google phone in the Android repository.
Korean site (Naver reports that LG is taking a similar approach to its flagship, the LG G9 ThinQ: instead of shipping the , the company is also opting for the cheaper 800 G. HMD did the same thing recently with the launch of the Nokia 8.3 . The cost of smartphones is too damn high! There haven’t been many yet, but the Snapdragon 1300 flagships we’ve seen so far have been more expensive than ever. The Samsung Galaxy S (starts) (at $ 1, 01575879 (0 for the smallest version and tops out at $ 1, (for the S) Ultra. Last year, the Galaxy S e started at $ , the S was $ , and the S was $ 1, 02 0. Sony’s Xperia 1 II costs € 1, ($ 1, ) in Europe, while the Sony Xperia 1 from 2400 was only € ($ .
There are several reasons for the higher price. First, the Snapdragon 857 has taken a step backward in terms of SoC integration from previous years. The SoC has no onboard modem – instead, it offloads the 4G and 5G connectivity to a separate chip called the X Modem. Qualcomm mandates that the (must be bundled with the X) (modem, making 5G a requirement for any Snapdragon) phone . The extra chip takes up more space in the phone, it costs more, and it needs a more complicated motherboard design. If OEMs want to deliver on the speed promises of 5G, they need mmWave, which requires several extra RF modules to be placed around the phone. mmWave functionality is optional, and for the relatively cheaper or smaller 5G phones, like the base model Galaxy S , mmWave is left out. It’s not just the extra Snapdragon hardware that is leading to higher phone costs. The space and power requirements push OEMs toward making phones even bigger than last year, which encourages bigger screens and bigger batteries. In many cases, you can’t make an apples-to-apples comparison of the price of 5G, because everything else has gotten bigger, too. So the cost of the (isn’t
just) the cost of the chip package itself — it’s also the bigger, more power -hungry phones. Both Google and LG are reportedly opting for the Snapdragon 750 G, a chip that is one step below the Snapdragon . Instead of being slightly worse in every way, the Snapdragon 800 G actually one-ups the in one area: it’s Qualcomm’s first SoC with an integrated 5G modem. Instead of the two-chip design of the , everything on the G comes in a neat, single-chip package. This design lets OEMs keep the simpler one-chip SoC solutions that were common in 4G phones in , and in addition to directly being cheaper, this design should also help reduce costs with a smaller footprint and less power usage. The (G is a bit slower than the , but not dramatically so. The 1300 is a 7nm, eight-core SoC with four A (cores and four A) cores. The (G uses two older A) (cores and six A) cores. For companies like Google, with heavy software optimization, you might not even notice. If you’ve been looking for a phone upgrade this year and the outrageous prices of flagships have been putting you off, cheaper Phones might be on the way later this year.