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With Qualcomm making the 5G modem on the Snapdragon 865 mandatory, Android flagships are struggling to remain affordable with many crossing the Rs 50,000 mark in India, a market where OEMs aim to keep devices affordable. And if you have been hoping the Snapdragon 875 next year will lower the prices again, we have some bad news.
Based on information from South Korea, the Snapdragon 875 will be even more expensive than the current Snapdragon 865. A whopping 50 percent increase in price is expected. A forum post claims the Snapdragon 875 SoC itself will cost $130, as compared to Snapdragon 865’s $85 price tag.
The entire package, however, is expected to go up to $250, where the Snapdragon 865 is being sourced at $160. The forum post claims this is the price Xiaomi will be buying the chipsets at, from Qualcomm. It needs to be noted that the final unit price of the chipsets will depend on the volume ordered. Considering the number of flagship Android phones Xiaomi launches and sells in a year, it’s fair to guess Xiaomi is one of the largest customers for the chip.
The higher $250 price tag is likely what OEMs will have to pay since the company has made the purchase of the entire chipset mandatory, including the 5G modem and the RF components.
With Qualcomm having a near-monopoly in Android flagship chipsets, the price of these premium smartphones is only going to go up in 2021, if the report is to be believed. This could force OEMs to limit the number of flagship devices, in favour of smartphones powered by the 7-series SoCs. Or opt for silicon from MediaTek and Samsung instead. With the latter finally foregoing the use of proprietary Mongoose cores, we might just see an Exynos chipset go toe to toe with the next Snapdragon 8-series SoC.
Based on reports coming out of Taiwan, the Snapdragon 875 is already under mass production using TSMC’s 5nm manufacturing node. The Apple A14 Bionic is also being made on the same platform at TSMC. Reports claim Qualcomm is investing 6,000 to 10,000 5nm wafers per month in TSMC for the Snapdragon 875, which also includes the Snapdragon X60 5G modem.
As for the features, new CPU designs released by ARM gives us a good idea on what to expect. The Snapdragon 875 is expected to come with custom Cortex-A78 cores and the Cortex-X1 Super Core. MyDrivers also confirmed that the new cores will debut first on the flagship chipset, followed by the 2021 Samsung Exynos 1000 chip. Qualcomm is likely to stick to the 1+3+4 core configuration.
The Cortex-X1 Super Core promises a whopping 30 percent improvement in speed than last year’s Cortex-A77, while the Cortex-A78 also offering a modest 20 percent increase, as claimed by ARM.
Further reports state Qualcomm will use an Adreno 660 GPU in the Snapdragon 875, and for what maybe for the first time, another Adreno 665 video processing unit (VPU) and an Adreno 1095 display processing unit (DPU).
Provided there’s no halt in production due to the ongoing pandemic, Qualcomm is expected to announce the Snapdragon 875 in December 2020, followed by a debut on a Xiaomi smartphone.