An unwelcome trend that marred 2020 flagships was the higher-than-usual prices of flagships across the board. A new leak suggests that 2021 won’t be any better.
Qualcomm practically has a monopoly when it comes to high-end Android smartphones, with its top-of-the-line Snapdragon 8 series powering almost all of them. For 2020, most manufacturers opted for the Snapdragon 865, which compulsorily had to be paired with the Snapdragon X55 5G modem. This was one of the major reasons why smartphone prices went up.
A new leak from Clien forums states that the next-gen Snapdragon 875 will be as much as 50% more expensive. The chipset and modem stack is said to set OEMs back by almost $250, which is significantly higher than the $150 that the Snapdragon 865 was supposedly priced at. This was apparently sourced from Xiaomi’s ongoing negotiations with Qualcomm.
The Snapdragon X60 5G modem is expected to be integrated within the SoC, which was earlier reported to bring the costs down, but now contradicts this leak. If this turns out to be true, manufacturers will have to resort to innovative approaches to keep the smartphone costs in check or look at other chipsets. This is crucial for price-sensitive markets such as India where the premium segment is slowly growing.
Preliminary Snapdragon 875 leaks suggest a familiar 1+3+4 core arrangement, built on a 5nm fabrication process. The prime core is likely to be the new Cortex X1 Super Core which is claimed to bring a 30% improvement in terms of performance.
There should be more clarity on this topic in December, when Qualcomm will unveil its range of chipsets and modems for 2021. TSMC is the contracted fabricator for the Snapdragon 875 which is likely to debut on a Xiaomi smartphone. It remains to be seen how the current delays affect this.