Late last year, Qualcomm broke convention when it moved from the 865 to the Snapdragon 888 and now a mid-cycle refresh of its flagship chip may follow suit, in the form of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Pro.
In terms of breaking convention, the name is the most obvious departure, with Qualcomm usually appending ‘+’ or ‘Plus’ on the end of its refreshed top-tier silicon, but this year the company is potentially shifting to the word ‘Pro’ instead.
The possibility of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Pro first comes from rumour fount, Digital Chat Station, who shared via Weibo word of the 888 Pro’s existence. (Machine translated via Twitter below.)
#DigitalChatStations888 pro domestic manufacturers are also testing, q3 will have models, and may not be exclusive overseas like last year. Is it the x1 super-large nuclear booster or the improvement of the process?
— Digital Chat Station (@chat_station)
April 24, 2021
What are the Snapdragon 888 Pro’s specs?
DCS makes no mention of the 888 Pro’s capabilities at this early stage but based on Qualcomm’s current release schedule this is the first mention of a chip that we would have expected during the second half of 2021 regardless, but at least now we can put a name to the silicon in question.
For reference, here are the standard Snapdragon 888’s base specifications:
Integrated Snapdragon X60 5G modem, up to 7.5Gbps downlink
Kryo 680 CPU, up to 2.84GHz
Adreno 660 GPU, supports up to QHD+ @ 144Hz
Hexagon 780 AI processor, 26 TOPS
Spectra 580 ISP, up to 2.7 gigapixels per second
Up to 16GB LPDDR5 RAM
Qualcomm Quick Charge 5
The most obvious move from last year’s Snapdragon 865 to the 865+ was an increased clock speed, but the reworked chip also brought forward additional technologies, like Bluetooth 5.2 in place of 5.1 and faster WiFi support.
With the Bluetooth SIG keeping schtum on the existence of a Bluetooth 5.3 standard (for the time being) and WiFi 6E hardware still fairly fresh-faced on the market, any additional improvements between the 888 and the 888 Pro, beyond raw performance, may be a little more subtle compared to last year’s upgrade.
Which phones will use the Snapdragon 888 Pro?
No manufacturers have yet made any mention of releasing devices powered by Qualcomm’s next flagship chipset, however, DCS’ post alludes to the fact that ‘domestic manufacturers’ are already testing developmental components.
With Digital Chat Station’s posts originating from China, it’s a fair assumption that they’re referencing some of the big Chinese OEMs known for picking Qualcomm’s top chips for their best and brightest devices. Manufacturers like Xiaomi, Oppo and OnePlus, for example – all of whom were among the first companies to confirm that they would be releasing Snapdragon 888-powered smartphones after the chip’s announcement in late 2020.
Are there any Snapdragon 888 Pro benchmarks yet?
With no chip specs out in the open, there’s little in the way of figures we can work with, right now.
The current 888 debuted a new architecture – based on Arm’s Cortex-X1 technology – consisting of a single X1 ‘prime core’ clocked at 2.84GHz, three Cortex-A78 performance cores, clocked at 2.4GHz, and four Cortex-A55 efficiency cores at 1.8GHz.
An uptick from 2.84GHz to 3.1GHz between last year’s 865 and 865+ helped produce a 10% performance improvement. If Qualcomm pulls the same trick with the 888 Pro, expect to see a similar boost to approximately 3.1GHz, when the chip is formally unveiled.