Qualcomm is one of the biggest names in mobile CPUs. If you pay close attention to the smartphone space, you’ve surely heard its name or its “Snapdragon” branding along the way.

Snapdragon is the moniker Qualcomm adopted for the mobile arm of its processors. And while Qualcomm makes other mobile chips, Snapdragon is the one you want to keep your eye on when it comes to smartphones.

The processor that governs a phone dictates a wide variety of compatible features. Processing speed, download/upload speed, camera resolution, connectivity standards, and charging are all dictated by the CPU. What this means is that a modern phone’s CPU – much like a computer’s motherboard – dictates the quality of its components.

READ: What’s the difference between MediaTek’s chips?

Keep in mind that because a chip supports a technology does not necessarily mean that a phone comes with it. It simply means that the processor could, theoretically, handle such technology. It is up to the phone maker to fold in the feature or include it as part of the experience.

Qualcomm Snapdragon Overview

Although we split the following into four tiers, Qualcomm’s current Snapdragon processors actually span five product lines, each with its own set of features and focuses. For the purpose of this guide we have selected the most recent models, dating back over the last few years.


Premium-Tier

When it comes to smartphones, much is made about flagship devices. Why not? They’re the best of the best and are built with the top specifications. Qualcomm’s 8 series of processors power many of the high-end phones you’ll find on the market.

Features in this range are bleeding-edge and today include details such as 5G connectivity, screen refresh rates as high as 144Hz, and support for multiple cameras with 4K, slow-motion, AI, and more. It’s also here where you’ll find options like in-display fingerprint readers and Quick Charge 5.

Take a slightly deeper dive into specific processors below


High-Tier

High-Tier processors are featured on a wide range of smartphones, many of which might be classified as “junior flagships”. You won’t find the full suite of top-notch hardware, but it is still far more than what a typical user might need.

The best part about trading out hardware performance and specs is that you’re able to slide the price range down a bit. If your phone has one of these processors, you’re doing quite alright for yourself as it’s likely a “premium” experience.

Qualcomm’s 7 series fits in the high-tier as it provides for options such as triple-camera configurations, 5G connectivity, Bluetooth 5.2, and Quick Charge 4+.

Notable models:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 780
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 778
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 768

Mid-Tier

Mid-tier processors support the most popular smartphone features of the day. Power and specifications are not the focus in these processors, merely bringing compatibility to as many features as possible.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 6 series of chips are a perfect blend of affordability and practicality. Phones with these chips tend to lean a little more into features that are fun and exciting but not necessary. Among them are cameras with 4K video capture, 5G connection, and AI smarts.

Notable models:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 690
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 675
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 670
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 665

Entry-Level

The Snapdragon 4 series of chips powers the budget-friendly sort of phone that provides a great bang for your buck.

A typical phone user is not all that demanding of their device and as such, a Qualcomm 4XX processor should meet the needs of the masses. Some of the key details here include high-fidelity audio, full HD displays, high-megapixel cameras, and optimized internet connectivity.

Notable models:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 480
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 460

Stepping down the ladder a bit, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 2 series delivers the most essential features, forgoing any extras. These cost-conscious devices are usually paired with Android Go software and/or found in emerging markets.

Notable models:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 215
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