Introducing the Qualcomm Snapdragon 653, 626, and 427: Qualcomm Announces Successors to Popular Mid-Range SoCs
It has been a good year for Qualcomm so far — the Snapdragon 65x series has garnered rave reviews for providing stellar performance in the mid-range market segment, and the Snapdragon 820 has received an improved critical reception over the Snapdragon 810. To build on the successful year, Qualcomm has announced the successors to some of its popular SoC lineups for the midrange and entry-level market segments, the Snapdragon 653, 626, and 427.
First up is the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 653 SoC, which as you may have guessed, is an incremental upgrade over the Snapdragon 652. When compared to its predecessor, the Snapdragon 653 provides an improvement of up to 10% higher performance and twice the addressable memory, with support for 8GB of RAM now. Further, the Snapdragon 653 is using the new X9 LTE modem which is found in the Snapdragon 625, an improvement over the X8 LTE modem found in the 652. The X9 LTE modem is still a Category 7 modem for downlink, same as the X8, however it does bring some extra features, namely the addition of Ultra HD Voice (EVS) over VoLTE (which was only supported by the X8 LTE modem on certain SoCs), Snapdragon Upload+, and Category 13 LTE uplink. Interestingly, the Snapdragon 653 also adds support for Qualcomm’s Clear Sight dual camera technology, which is a fad that has been mostly limited to flagship devices. Only a couple devices like the Honor 8 and LG V20 have dual cameras so far, and even fewer utilize both cameras at the same time in the way that Qualcomm Clear Sight does. The Snapdragon 653 continues to use a 4xA72 + 4xA53 core combination on a 28 nm process with an Adreno 510 GPU and LPDDR3 RAM, like the Snapdragon 652 before it, however it increases the clock speed of the A72 cores to 1.95 GHz and has support for 802.11ac MU-MIMO.
The extremely power efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 from the lower mid-range is also seeing an upgrade with the Snapdragon 626 coming into the picture. Qualcomm promises an increase in performance of up to 10% over the 625, although the Cortex-A53 cores used in the Snapdragon 625 are not known for being particularly powerful. The Snapdragon 626 also adds support for dual cameras, and uses the X9 LTE modem as well. The Snapdragon 626 continues to use an 8xA53 core configuration on a 14 nm process with an Adreno 506 and USB 3.0 support, but it increases the clock speed to 2.2 GHz and has support for Bluetooth 4.2.
Towards the low end of the market, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 is seeing an upgrade in the form of the Snapdragon 427. The biggest improvement is the modem on this SoC, which is now an X9 LTE modem with support for Category 7 LTE downlink and Category 13 LTE uplink. This is a substantial improvement over the X6 LTE modem that was used in the Snapdragon 425 and 430, which was only capable of Category 4 and 5 downlink and uplink. Qualcomm is pushing for adoption of their Clear Sight technology relatively heavily, with even the Snapdragon 427 gaining support, although we remain skeptical about the finesse with which low end devices can handle dual-cameras. The Snapdragon 427 has the same 1.4GHz 4xA53 core design on a 28 nm process as its predecessor has. It also continues to use the Adreno 308 GPU that was found in the Snapdragon 425, which is disappointing to see, as it limits the SoC to OpenGL ES 3.0, which may cause issues with software updates.
With the Snapdragon 653, 626, and 427 all supporting Qualcomm Clear Sight technology, we may start to see dual camera setups trickle down to mid-range, and potentially even low-end, devices by mid 2017. It will be very interesting to see what effects this has on the cameras of mid-range Android phones, as that has historically been an area where they have struggled, and dual camera technology has shown some relatively impressive results.
Additionally, all three of these new SoCs support Quick Charge 3.0, helping solidify support for fast charging across Qualcomm’s entire product lineup. This further increase in SoC support for Qualcomm Quick Charge will make it easier to find devices and accessories that can fast charge, even at the low end of the market. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 653 and the Snapdragon 626 will be commercially available by the end of 2016, while the Snapdragon 427 is expected to be commercially available in devices in early 2017.