Hawaii typically conjures up images of surf, loud shirts and leis around people's necks. Yet for a few days each year, it plays host to the annual Snapdragon Summit – where chip manufacturer Qualcomm reveals its latest and greatest mobile innovations.
This year's Summit has revealed its biggest announcement of them all: the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 platform, which promises to make many of the best Android phones in 2024 even more appealing. It brings more power, more generative artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, and is a big-deal upgrade over its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 predecessor.
You're probably already familiar with Qualcomm Snapdragon by name, as the company's chips power many of the best phones you can buy today. That includes an ongoing partnership with Samsung for its Galaxy devices (although there's rumour of a shocking Galaxy S24 about-turn), so expect new Flip, Fold and other Galaxy flagships as likely contenders.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 3: key features
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 boasts a host of upgrades: as a baseline it claims a 30% CPU, 20% power efficiency, and 25% GPU boost compared to the previous Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. But it's the features where various stand-out possibilities come to light.
Generative AI: An upgraded AI engine means more capable on-device artificial intelligence processes. And Qualcomm is teasing plenty of possibilities here: from an AI assistant based on Meta's Llama 2, to various features included in many of the below areas.
Snapdragon Sight: This is where Qualcomm is showing-off its digital imagine prowess, with a new image signal processor (Cognitive ISP) that can run multi-layered adjustments in real-time, including erasing objects in video (Video Magic Eraser), expanding photos beyond their original composition (Photo Expansion) and improved low-light capabilities (Night Vision).
Elite Gaming: Where that raw CPU and GPU power comes into effect is seen most in gaming, where the ability to run Unreal Engine 5 and even produce ray-tracing light reflections effects in-device mean truly top-end experiences. Even 240fps gaming is possible too.
Sound: Qualcomm's Snapdragon Sound can handle 24-bit 96kHz lossless audio, meaning you'll never miss a beat when listening to the highest quality content.
Which phones will have Snapdragon 8 Gen 3?
While no specific handsets have been revealed that will host the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip just yet, Qualcomm isn't being shy in revealing its list of extensive partners. Here's the full list, as provided by the company:
'Asus, Honor, iQOO, Meizu, NIO, Nubia, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Redmi, RedMagic, Sony, Vivo, Xiaomi, ZTE'. There will likely be more, too, as Samsung is strongly expected to continue its ongoing partnership. Furthermore, Qualcomm claims that "flagship Android devices powered by Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 are expected to be available in the coming weeks" – so I'd bet that means the Xiaomi 14 is a likely contender!
I'm on the ground at Snapdragon Summit 2023 and will be looking out for any concrete announcements about future handsets with Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, whilst trying out this latest kit in what should set the trajectory for the best Android phones of 2024... after which it's your turn, MediaTek.