Every year in December, while half of the world is looking to get into the festive mood and the rest is looking to change the calendars to welcome the new year, Qualcomm announces its flagship chipset.
There is absolutely no need to explain what Christmas or the New Year means for most, and Qualcomm’s announcement of the new chipset also has a similar impact on the global smartphone industry.
Like every year, not only has the announcement of Snapdragon 888 has shown where the industry is heading in terms of the features and capabilities of the phones that will launch in the next year but it has also given the much-needed hope to the industry that has not had the best of the years, thanks to the pandemic.
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Why is it named Snapdragon 888 instead of Snapdragon 875?
Qualcomm’s flagship or the premium line of chipsets are the series 8 chipsets that power most Android flagships across the globe followed by the series 7 chipsets which are seen in most mid-range or affordable flagships.
This year, going by the previous trend, the new flagship chipset was expected to be called as Snapdragon 875; But the company chose to call it as Snapdragon 888 and it came as a surprise to most.
Clarifying its decision (opens in new tab), the company said that in various countries, number 8 is considered auspicious especially in India and China, the two biggest markets for smartphones. TechCrunch quotes the company saying, “The number 8 is also a lucky number around the world. For some, it signifies infinity, success or inner wisdom, while for others it symbolizes luck. For example, in India, the number 8 is known as Ashtha, Asta, or Ashta in Sanskrit and is the number of wealth and abundance. While in Chinese numerology 888 is a representation of triple luck.”
In China, "6" and "8" are auspicious numbers, and Snapdragon 888 is very likable.December 1, 2020
Hence, contrary to the popular belief that the decision to rename the chipset was taken because of Chinese influence, Qualcomm’s naming decision has some Sanskrit connection too. That said, it is still odd that even though Qualcomm is an American company and operates globally, it seems it is still influenced by these things.
Chinese OEMs to lead the race
Following the official announcement of the new Chipset, we had a flurry of announcements from various smartphone makers that wanted to assure their users and fans that they soon will be able to get hold of their new smartphone rocking the new chipset.
While Xiaomi’s founder and CEO Lei Jun’s announcement came with the keynote, Realme followed suit quickly announcing Realme Race. OnePlus wasn’t to be left far behind as well. Soon we had other brands as well going with the flow. Till now Oppo, Asus, BlackShark, Lenovo, LG, Meizu, Motorola, Nubia, Realme, OnePlus, Sharp, Sony, Vivo, Xiaomi, and ZTE have already made their intention to use Snapdragon 888 in their phones loud and clear.
Samsung, that has manufactured the chipset for Qualcomm, is going to use the chipset in its 2021 flagship the Galaxy S21 lineup.
Apart from a couple of South Korean companies including Samsung, LG, Taiwan’s Asus and Sharp (now owned by Foxconn), and Sony - the lone Japanese company, the list is dominated by Chinese players. These Chinese companies are expected to not only launch premium devices but you’ll also see affordable-flagship phones completing the price gamut.
This should come as no surprise since Chinese companies have a major share in the smartphone industry – be it components, manufacturing facilities or the end-user devices.
If you’re in India and are looking forward to using a Snapdragon 888 powered phone, then you may not be able to look beyond one of these Chinese makers. Samsung which uses both Exynos and Qualcomm chipsets in its flagships prefers to bring only Exynos powered flagship phones to India. LG has been dormant over the years and has recently introduced a couple of premium phones but none with the flagship chipsets.
Sony has shuttered (opens in new tab) its operations in India last year while Sharp is yet to launch a phone commercially in India. This leaves only Asus which though brought the ROG Phone 3 quickly to India but remains non-committal about the Zenfone 7 series, even after close to 5 months after the launch. Hence expecting Asus to launch the Zenfone 8 series in India would be too much to ask for.
Hence, you can expect Realme, Oppo, Vivo or Xiaomi to launch the first Snapdragon 888 powered phone in India. However, considering the cutting-edge technology on offer, source of origin should hardly make any difference.
Should I buy a Snapdragon 888 phone in India?
The Snapdragon 888 chipset is not only the most advanced chipset available for Android smartphones right now, but it also is expected to offer improved 5G connectivity, fast charging and better battery life than the predecessor, improved gaming experience, AI, and most importantly massive improvements in mobile photography.
In case you are one of those early adopters who love cutting edge technology, then going for a phone with Qualcomm’s top-tier chipset once it is available is a good idea. However, if you’re already using one of the latest phones right now, there may not be too many reasons to jumbo the gun already.
Additionally, India is lagging way behind the 5G schedule and the government seems to be in no hurry to expedite the process already. In fact, apart from Jio, none of the telcos has made any positive noise around the 5G trials or a rollout. These delays and in general the lack of preparedness to upgrade to 5G suggests that you can expect India to be 5G ready only by mid-2022.
So, while Qualcomm is already pushing mobile chipsets with 5G technology aggressively, spending extra specifically for faster connectivity may not be an intelligent option as of now.
In any case, there are a couple of companies looking to win the race to launch India's first Snapdragon 888 phones. That may, however, only happen around the end of February.
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