Qualcomm just announced a brand-new addition to its Snapdragon mobile chip range with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. But how can it compare to the beast that is Apple Silicon?
The mobile industry is booming; we’ve seen plenty of hardware releases from the likes of Apple, Google and OpenPlus, among many others. Now, Qualcomm has stepped into the limelight with the announcement of the latest chipset, Snapdragon 8 Gen 3.
With so many handsets circulating, and so much software coming to light in the process, we wanted to take a closer look at the differences between the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and the Apple Silicon A17 Pro, which launched alongside the iPhone 15 range.
If you want to learn more about these chips then make sure you keep reading, as we’re going to be running through everything you need to know.
The A17 Pro is exclusive to Apple hardware
Apple is known for being an insular company, so it’s no surprise that the latest A17 Pro chipset is exclusive to Apple hardware. Currently, the A17 Bionic can be found on the latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max handsets. If Apple follows the trend it set over the last few years, it’s very likely that this chip will also make an appearance on the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus, although we can’t confirm that until they launch towards the end of next year.
Qualcomm works a little differently, as its chips regularly appear on third-party handsets. Its predecessor – the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 – is used across a multitude of devices, including the OpenPlus Open, Xiaomi 13 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 handsets, although the latter Samsung devices come with a custom version, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy.
While the only smartphone confirmed to run the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is the Xiaomi 14 right now, it will definitely pop up on more handsets than the A17 Pro, making it more accessible in the broader market.
More camera tricks on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
In our review of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, we noted that the camera was reliable and offered a little bit of everything, with colours looking natural and realistic with sharp detailing throughout. Unlike some other handsets – most notably the Google Pixel 8 – Apple has relied a lot more on its camera hardware than any AI trickery, making it a great option for most users, but a little underdeveloped for anyone who wants to make more customisations.
One of the biggest aspects of the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset is its new camera features. Qualcomm claims that its AI improvements will allow for the “world’s smartest AI-powered camera”, with several new features making an appearance. Video Object Eraser will allow users to remove unwanted people and objects in video capture – seemingly working in the same vein as Google’s Magic Eraser – and two always-sensing cameras in both the front and back will allow for easy QR code scanning and face unlock.
There’s also image expansion tech based on Generative AI, similar to that used in the popular Photoshop beta.
Zoom Anyplace, which is powered by Samsung’s first 200-megapixel image sensor optimised for Snapdragon, should also allow for the capture of multiple videos, object tracking and 2x and 4x optical zoom, all in 4K.
It’s worth noting that these camera effects will be dependent on the handset it’s used with, but more premium devices should be capable of some truly impressive camera shots, making it ideal for more professional photographers and videographers.
A17 Pro is built on a smaller process
The A17 Pro is built on a brand-new 3nm architecture, a massive improvement over the 4nm process node that features on the last-generation A16 Bionic. The smaller process node provides a huge boost in performance thanks to the inclusion of more transitions, which now sits at 19 billion.
Apple claims that the GPU in the A17 Pro is 20% faster than its predecessor, with a 10% boost for the CPU, too. The Neural Engine is also twice as fast and can perform nearly 35 trillion operations per second, according to the company.
Qualcomm built the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 on a 4nm process node. The company claims that the CPU has a max frequency of 3.3GHz with 30% faster performance than its predecessor, with the new Adreno GPU offering 25% faster performance and 25% greater power efficiency overall.
Thanks to these improvements, 240fps gaming is possible on this chipset due to the new optimised frame generation algorithm, which should make it ideal for mobile gamers.
Until we test out the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 we won’t be able to make any hard comments on its performance, but it looks like it’s made multiple improvements over its predecessor and may even be able to give Apple Silicon a run for its money.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 comes with AI improvements
Qualcomm is known for its impressive AI and it looks like the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 has made even more improvements in this area. The company claims that this new chip provides up to a 3.5x boost in AI performance, with an upgraded hexagon NPU designed for Gen AI. It is the company’s first AI Engine to support multi-modal generation AI models, including large language models (LLMs) and language vision models (LVMs) among others.
Qualcomm even claims that on-device personalisation will be possible; the Qualcomm Sensing Hub will be capable of using data – such as your favourite activities, fitness levels and location – to make its AI virtual assistant able to offer more personalised responses than ever.
Apple hasn’t put as much emphasis on AI this time around, with a lot more focus being put on boosts in CPU and GPU performance. If what Qualcomm claims is true, Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 handsets may be better equipped to offer users a customised experience than they would find on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models.