Qualcomm isn't a brand name that most smartphone users would regard as instantly recognisable, but it's quietly become one of the sector's most important players, providing the Snapdragon processors and chipsets that power many of the most popular phones and tablets.
As such, the launch of new additions to the Snapdragon range should be seen as a big deal for mobile users, as the platform is popular enough that any new Qualcomm chipset is likely to show up in millions of devices worldwide over the next few years.
That's why the news that Qualcomm is launching three new products in the Snapdragon 600 and 400 ranges could be highly significant. The new Snapdragon 632, 439 and 429 Mobile Platforms are designed to bring higher performance, better battery life, more efficient designs, enhanced visuals and AI capabilities to a whole host of affordable mid-tier devices – enough that users will notice the difference, even if they don't know that it's Qualcomm they have to thank.
Highly capable chips at a modest budget
The Snapdragon 632 chipset is the most powerful of the new chipsets announced by Qualcomm this week, using advanced FinFET process technology to deliver 40 per cent higher performance than the older Snapdragon 626.
In practical terms, this means that phones powered by the device will be able to run games more capably, capture 4K videos, provide AI functionality and deliver fast LTE speeds, all for an affordable price. The Snapdragon 632 is also powerful enough to support either a single 24 MP camera or dual cameras at 13 MP each, with display resolutions up to FHD+.
Meanwhile, the Snapdragon 439 and 429 chips are lower-cost options that nevertheless improve CPU performance and power efficiency by up to 25 per cent compared to the Snapdragon 430 and 425, respectively. Both are equipped with AI capabilities that enhance the camera, voice, and security experience, and use established X6 LTE modem technology for fast downloads, smooth video streams and seamless web browsing.
Additionally, the Snapdragon 439 features 21 MP single-camera and 8+8 MP dual-camera support for FHD+ displays, while the Snapdragon 429 includes 16 MP single-camera and 8+8 MP dual-camera capabilities for HD+ displays.
What does this mean for users?
Devices based on the Snapdragon 632, 439 and 429 processors are expected to start emerging in the second half of this year, meaning mobile users will be seeing a whole new generation of highly capable smartphones released at low and mid-range price points around this time.
This should be seen as big news for budget-conscious shoppers. Although Snapdragon 600 and 400-series processors like these don't pack the same punch as the Snapdragon 800 chips found in cutting-edge phones like Samsung's Galaxy range, they are still hugely popular; indeed, more than 1,350 smart devices have been based on Snapdragon 600-tier mobile platforms, rising to over 2,300 for the Snapdragon 400 series.
Kedar Kondap, vice president for product management at Qualcomm Technologies, said: “The introduction of Snapdragon 632, 439 and 429 builds off Qualcomm Technologies' highest-selling mobile platforms and provides users with increased performance and power efficiency, superior graphics, AI capabilities and enhanced connectivity features.”