Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2: leap in performance for the smartphone mid-range

With the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2, Qualcomm has announced a new processor for upper mid-range smartphones. Compared to the direct predecessor, the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1, the company speaks of significant increases in CPU and graphics performance. The coming weeks should show whether this is true in practice. The first smartphones with the new SoC (system-on-chip) are expected to go on sale in March 2023.

The technical data of the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 are reminiscent of the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 presented in May 2022. Because the new processor takes over the CPU cores and the basic structure consisting of a prime core (ARM Cortex-X2) from the latter. three performance cores (ARM Cortex-A710) and four efficiency cores (ARM Cortex-A510). With a maximum of 2.91, 2.49 and 1.8 GHz, the cores achieve lower clock rates than in the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, but it should still be enough for a 50 percent higher CPU performance compared to the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1.

The graphics unit (GPU) is said to double the performance, but Qualcomm does not provide any details. All that is known is that the GPU supports the Vulkan 1.1, OpenGL ES 3.2 and Open CL 2.0 FP interfaces, as well as hardware-accelerated decoding of the H.265 and VP9 video codes, among other things. The graphics unit also enables the playback of common HDR formats (HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision). Players should benefit from Physically Based Rendering and Volumetric Rendering. Together with Auto Variable Rate Shading (VRS), both are part of the Snapdragon Elite Gaming functions that Qualcomm offers developers for higher performance and a more appealing look.

The changes compared to the predecessor should ensure significantly more performance for the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2. This applies in particular to the graphics and AI calculations.

(Image: Qualcomm)

The new model also adopts the Spectra ISP (Image Signal Processor) image processor from the Snapdragon 8+ Gen. It therefore remains with three 18-bit pipelines, which is primarily crucial for the burst mode – the continuous shooting function of the camera – without a shutter lag. Because the performance is sufficient to process 30 images per second simultaneously from three camera sensors with a resolution of 32 megapixels. If two cameras are used at the same time, the sensor resolution can be 64 and 36 megapixels, if only one camera is used it can be 108 megapixels. For single shots, the ISP supports camera sensors with a maximum resolution of 200 megapixels – however, such high resolutions with small smartphone sensors are primarily good for marketing. The other camera functions include 4K recordings with a maximum of 60 frames per second, 10-bit color depth for photos and videos and HDR recordings (HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision). The Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 offers the HEIC format for photos and the HEVC format for videos.

The AI ​​performance should also benefit from the changes compared to the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1. Qualcomm also speaks of a doubling here, but does not give any details. It is only known that the performance refers to the interaction of CPU, GPU, Hexagon AI accelerator and memory.

A legacy of the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 is the Snapdragon X62 modem. In addition to LTE, it also supports 5G with downlink transmission rates of up to 4.4 Gbit/s. It can be used in standalone (5G SA, exclusive use of 5G) and non-standalone mode (5G NSA, data transmission via 5G, control functions via LTE). It also masters sub-6 GHz and mmWave networks. The latter should also become increasingly available in Europe in the course of 2023, albeit only in particularly heavily frequented areas such as airports or the centers of large cities.

The FastConnect 6900 module is available for data exchange via WLAN and Bluetooth – as in the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. It offers Wi-Fi 6E with a maximum of 3.6 Gbit/s and Bluetooth 5.3 including the audio codecs Bluetooth LE Audio, aptX Lossless and aptX Adaptive. Other key data, also adopted from the 8+ Gen, include production with 4-nanometer structures at the chip order manufacturer TSMC, UFS 3.1 for the flash memory and the Quick Charge 5 fast charging technology with a maximum charging capacity of more than 100 watts.

Redmi and Realme are among the first partners who want to install the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2. It is not known which smartphone models will be involved. It is also unclear in which price segment the devices should be placed. However, the Xiaomi 13 Lite, which was presented in February 2023 and has a recommended retail price of around 500 euros, could provide an indication. Because it contains the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1, the predecessor of the new Qualcomm processor.


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