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Budget phones may offer flagship performance with Qualcomm's latest processor

Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 5G chipset
(Image credit: Qualcomm)

Qualcomm unveiled its Snapdragon 888 chipset back in December, the flagship processor for Android phones in 2021 like the Galaxy S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro. Now the company is unveiling a second-tier processor that should bring high-end performance to more budget-friendly phones.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 778 5G announced in a blog post today represents a significant leap over the Snapdragon 765G that we saw in a number of affordable devices last year. It brings a number of features that were previously reserved for the 8-Series chips (via SlashGear).

Where we commonly saw a letdown in the Snapdragon 765G was gaming performance and Qualcomm has taken that to heart with the Snapdragon 778G with 40% faster rendering thanks to its new Adreno 642L GPU. It also adds support for Variable Rate Shading which groups pixel shading to reduce the load on the GPU and Qualcomm Game Quick Touch which delivers a 20% boost to touch latency.

If you aren't a gamer more common tasks are getting the same 40% performance bump from the Kyro 670 CPU. Devices like the Pixel 5 had pleasantly surprised us when it came to basic app usage and OS navigation, so this is a huge jump from that already solid performance.

The ever-popular and buzzworthy AI performance gets perhaps the most significant upgrade of all with the Qualcomm Hexagon 770 Processor now able to deliver up to 12 TOPS (Tera Operations Per Second) up from 5.5 TOPS on the Snapdragon 765G. In simpler terms, this is AI acceleration that allows for much faster data transfer between the cores.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 5G chipset

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

Photo and video captures get a welcome upgrade, too. The new Qualcomm Spectra 570L ISP is a triple ISP, allowing it to capture up to three videos at once for computational HDR video and HDR10+ support. 4K video capture at up to 30fps and slow-motion at 720p at up to 240fps should keep most users happy. Camera support can scale up to an improbable 192MP, but more generally, relevant support is available for 10-bit HDR HEIF photo capture and AI-based autofocus and auto-exposure.

Finally, for 5G future-proofing, the built-in Snapdragon X53 5G modem gives you support for all mmWave and Sub-6GHz 5G in most regions. We suspect we're still a few years away from truly relevant 5G, but it's nice that you don't need to sacrifice by stepping down from the top flagships.

There were no devices to announce just yet, but Qualcomm indicated that some phones with the Snapdragon 778G should be available by the end of Q2 2021 (June). 

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.