Qualcomm has today launched the newest iteration of its entry-level mobile SoC: Snapdragon 4 Gen 2. With Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 having launched just last September (alongside Snapdragon 6 Gen 2), this latest release might be one of the quickest successive launches we’ve seen from the company.
Snapdragon 4 caters to users looking for a well-featured phone, but don’t want (or need) to splurge for premium features they’re not taking advantage of. Snapdragon 6 piles on additional features, and caters to the mid-range market; Snapdragon 7 targets high-end users who want the most in-demand features, while Snapdragon 8 piles everything but the kitchen sink in.
When talking of the Snapdragon 4 series in general, Qualcomm says that target customers use their phones for simpler, but important tasks: web browsing, social media, music listening, voice or video calls, taking photos, and navigation.
Whereas Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 was built on a 6nm process, Gen 2’s iteration joins the higher-end SKUs by being built on 4nm. Naturally, efficiency has improved, as has performance. We’re once again seeing a 2+6 core design, with both sets of cores gaining 200MHz peak clock speeds: 2.2GHz for the performance cores, and 2.0GHz for the efficiency cores. It also supports faster memory, bumping from 2133MHz to 3200MHz with the use of LP-DDR5X.
Whereas the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 offers support for WiFi 7, and Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 offers WiFi 6/6E, the Snapdragon 4 Gen 2 whittles support down to WiFi 5 (802.11ac). With WiFi 7 out there, WiFi 5 seems old-school, but 802.11ac is still quite close to 1Gbps, so it’s hardly slow.
One odd thing we did notice is that while Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 had Bluetooth 5.2, Gen 2 knocks it down to 5.1. Bluetooth 5.2 supports additional LE (low energy) features, so it’s a bit of an odd downgrade, but one that shouldn’t ruffle many feathers. That’s not the only downgrade, though; we’re also seeing a move away from Triple 12-bit ISPs to dual – another feature that’s not likely to matter a great deal at this price-point, but we’re not used to seeing trade-offs like this with upgraded models. Maybe it’s related to the change of process node, but it seems unlikely.
As for other improvements, Snapdragon 4 Gen 2 introduces new camera capabilities, like Multi-Camera Temporal Filtering for reducing noise in video, as well as new AI features like improved low-light shooting with the camera, for voice calls, background noise removal.
Overall, this is an interesting release from Qualcomm, with the latest-gen Snapdragon 4 being quicker and more efficient than Gen 1, and piling on some additional features many users can appreciate (especially the AI-bound ones). It’s still strange to see a couple of specs downgraded gen-over-gen, and while it’s unfortunate, it does seem the newer updates negate the losses.
Qualcomm expects the first devices equipped with the new Snapdragon 4 Gen 2 to begin popping up in the second half of 2023.