Ahead of the company’s annual Tech Summit event, where it’s expected to unveil the next generation of its flagship smartphone chipset, Qualcomm has today announced a revamp to its branding.
Going forwards, Snapdragon smartphone chipsets will use a simplified single-digit naming system with generation numbers. This should be cleaner, while still emphasising the company's four performance tiers, with the 8-series powering flagship phones, and the 7-series, 6-series, and 4-series below.
It sounds similar to the naming already used for the company's computer chips, used to power both Windows laptops and Chromebooks. These components are split into the Snapdragon 8cx and 7cx tiers, with generation markers to separate them - with the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 expected to launch soon.
Qualcomm will also now emphasise the Snapdragon brand itself more, as distinct from Qualcomm's corporate identity - leaning further into the brand identity that's arguably become a vital strength for Snapdragon as rival MediaTek gains strength in the chipset market.
The new system is a cleaner approach than the three-digit system Qualcomm has used since 2012, which combined those series numbers with incrementally increasing second and third digits to reflect each chip’s position within the tiers – the Snapdragon 888 is more powerful than the previous year’s 865, and both are a tier above the 780.
The change has partly been sparked simply because it's running out of numbers. With chips now including the 888, 780, and 695, it's clear that Qualcomm no longer has much room to grow in its current system.
These numbers have often been supplemented not only by ‘4G’ and ‘5G’ suffixes, but also just the letter ‘G’ to mark chips that have been optimised for gaming and a '+' mark for over-clocked models.
Messy as it was, this was important for distinguishing not only between the generations of models announced each year, but also to pull apart the plethora of chips Qualcomm announces on a rolling basis. Just last month the company launched four new chips: Snapdragon 778G+, 695, 680 4G, and 480+.
What’s not clear yet is how Qualcomm will distinguish between products in the same tiers now. "We do have plans for how to separate the products," Qualcomm’s senior director of product marking Debra Marich said during a media briefing, though the company isn't sharing the shape of those plans yet.
One possibility is to simply not release so many chipsets that they require a convoluted web of numbers and letters to pull them apart, and it looks like this will be part of Qualcomm’s approach.
"You'll see the roadmap strategy tighten up in terms of the number of launches," Marich explained in response to a question about how Qualcomm will tell apart chips within the same tier and generation.
What will the next Snapdragon flagship be called?
While the company hasn’t confirmed the exact name of its upcoming flagship, previously rumoured to be called the Snapdragon 898, between today’s announcements and leaks it’s easy to make an educated guess.
Well-known tech leaker Ice Universe predicted just last week that the upcoming chipset will be called the ‘Snapdragon 8 gen1’, which fits perfectly with the naming format Qualcomm has announced so far.
Either way, we’ll find out soon enough. The company’s Tech Summit event is confirmed to run from 30 November to 2 December, which is almost certainly when we’ll see the next 8-series Snapdragon chip unveiled and we'll be in attendance.
It follows last week’s reveal of the Dimensity 9000, MediaTek’s rival top-tier phone chipset, which for the first time packs in enough power to likely give the new Snapdragon a real run for its money.