Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 870 reheats the Snapdragon 865 for 2021 phones

Qualcomm has announced a new mobile phone processor: the Qualcomm Snapdragon 870, a successor to last year’s Snapdragon 865 and 865 Plus models. To be clear, the 870 isn’t a new next-gen design — that title goes to the Snapdragon 888, which makes far more substantial improvements in performance and new features.

The 870, on the other hand, is virtually identical to the 865 and 865 Plus, with the same design right down to the Kryo 585 CPU and Adreno 650 GPU cores. The 870 is clocked at 3.2GHz, however, making it about 10 percent faster than the original 865’s 2.84GHz and about 3 percent faster than the 865 Plus (which offered 3.1GHz speeds). Think of it almost like a Snapdragon 865 Plus-plus.

Qualcomm says that the reason for the new chip is in response to manufacturer and market demands. The 870 is designed for companies that want to offer a top-tier processor but don’t need the absolute best features that the flagship Snapdragon 888 offers and the higher price tag that it demands. Instead, the company says that it expects that Snapdragon 870 phones should hit a sub-$800 price tag (although, confusingly, we’ve already seen Snapdragon 888 phones like the $799 Galaxy S21 start to bleed into that range).

Presumably, there’s also a marketing aspect here: the Snapdragon 870’s new branding and modest (if still real) speed improvements over even the Snapdragon 865 Plus mean that companies using the chip in their phones get a “new” 2021 chip to boast about on spec sheets, without concerns of getting looked over by customers for having an “outdated” or “old” processor like the 865 or 865 Plus.

Qualcomm says that the first Snapdragon 870 phones should be available in Q1 of this year, with Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo, and Xiaomi among the list of manufacturers planning to use the new processor in their devices.

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