Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 780G beefs up the midrange mobile CPU space

Significantly faster mid-range Android phones and tablets are on the way starting in Q2 2021.
Enlarge / Significantly faster mid-range Android phones and tablets are on the way starting in Q2 2021.

On Thursday, Qualcomm announced its newest midrange mobile processor—the Snapdragon 780G, a 5nm part that succeeds last year’s 765. The Snapdragon 700 series is a midrange line that offers similar features to the flagship Snapdragon 800 series but at somewhat lower performance for significantly lower cost.

On the surface, it’s easy to look at last year’s Snapdragon 768G and this year’s 780G and see a similar product: an octa-core processor with Adreno GPU. But although the core count remained constant, the types of cores did not.

Earlier Snapdragon 700 series SoCs used one “fastest” Cortex A-76 core, another “almost as fast” Cortex A-76, and six “slow-and-low” Cortex A-55 cores that can get background tasks done with a minimum of battery drain. The new 780G shifts things around, with three fast secondary cores and only four slow cores:

SoC Fastest Core Fast Core(s) Slow/Efficient Cores
Snapdragon 768G 1x Cortex A-76 @ 2.8 GHz 1x Cortex A-76 @ 2.4 GHz 6x Cortex A-55 @ 1.8 GHz
Snapdragon 780G 1x Cortex A-78 @ 2.4 GHz 3x Cortex A-78 @ 2.2 GHz 4x Cortex A-55 @ 1.9 GHz

This strikes us as a pretty large shift, and it highlights how much wiggle room there is in a word like “octa-core” in modern big/little CPUs, where the different cores have very different capabilities and performance levels.

The 780G also gets an upgraded GPU—Qualcomm says its Adreno 642 gets a 50 percent performance boost over the Adreno 620 in the 768G. Anandtech’s back-of-the-napkin math puts that roughly on par with the Adreno 640 in late 2018’s Snapdragon 855 flagship.

Snapdragon 780G offers a new and improved Hexagon 770 AI processor, with an additional lower-powered AI accelerator that can handle tasks like filtering out wind and background noise during calls without eating too far into battery reserves. There’s also support for 5G and Wi-Fi 6E modems and an image signal processor that can process three 25 MP images simultaneously. That allows for a phone with a triple lens arrangement to capture images from wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto cameras from a single click.

Qualcomm says the first Snapdragon 780G-equipped devices should begin shipping in Q2 2021.