- Qualcomm has introduced the Snapdragon 480, offering 5G in 4-series chips for the first time.
- It also improves camera, charging, and graphics performance.
- Expect the first phones based on the system-on-chip in early 2021.
You can get Snapdragon-based high-end and mid-range phones with 5G, but budget models have proven elusive â€” until now. Qualcomm has launched the Snapdragon 480, the first system-on-chip in the 4-series with 5G support.
The Snapdragon 480â€™s centerpiece is an X51 modem that provides â€œmulti-gigabitâ€� 5G speeds for both millimeter wave and sub-6GHz frequencies, according to Qualcomm. You wonâ€™t get the X60 modem from the Snapdragon 888, but this should give you brisk app downloads and streaming videos. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 will improve your short-range wireless connections, too.
This also represents a stride forward for performance. The Snapdragon 480 is built on Qualcommâ€™s 2GHz Kryo 460 processor with eight cores, four of them based on Armâ€™s Cortex-A76 performance architecture and four on the more efficient Cortex-A55. Thatâ€™s a significant leap over last yearâ€™s Snapdragon 460 (based on the A73 and A53). Combined with improved Adreno 619 graphics and an 8-nanometer manufacturing process, Qualcomm is claiming up to 100% boosts in CPU and GPU performance over the last generation as well as a 70% gain for AI.
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You can likewise expect upgrades to basic functionality. The Snapdragon 480 is Qualcommâ€™s first 4-series part to boast a triple imaging processor, letting it capture from three 13MP cameras at the same time. On top of general graphics upgrades, the 48 also supports up to 120FPS on FHD+ screens for gaming or any other app that demands ultra-fluid visuals. Accordingly, this is the first 4-series chip with Quick Charge 4 support for speedy top-ups.
Qualcomm expects the first phones based on the Snapdragon 480 to debut in early 2021. The company didnâ€™t name specific devices, but itâ€™s clear about some of the early customers. Nokia, Oppo, and Vivo have all committed to using the new chip in future entry-level devices.
This isnâ€™t the first low-cost SoC with 5G. Rivals like MediaTek have been rolling out ever-more-affordable 5G chips for a while. Qualcommâ€™s rollout could still expand the reach of 5G, though, particularly in North America and other regions where phones based on competing chipsets are relatively rare. Itâ€™s also good news even if you donâ€™t care for 5G â€” the overall jump in speed might spare you from buying a more expensive phone just to get adequate performance.