After a score of twice, why did Qualcomm start to “squeeze toothpaste”?

Scored twice.

After seeing Qualcomm's recent operations, this word came to me naturally. Recently it released a chip called Snapdragon 860, which I thought was a new chip at first.

But when I checked the information of the Snapdragon 860 carefully, I found that it is actually an enhanced version of the Snapdragon 855. The highest frequency has been increased from 2.84GHz to 2.96Hz. The rest has almost no major changes. It is exactly the same as the Snapdragon 855 Plus launched in 2019. Even on Qualcomm's official website, Snapdragon 855 Plus and Snapdragon 860 are directly divided into the same column.

At the beginning of this year, Qualcomm has already done a new bottle of old wine. The Snapdragon 870 is actually an overclocked enhanced version of the Snapdragon 865. The old flagship chip is strengthened and sold again, and the manufacturing process is obviously behind the 5nm of Snapdragon 888. What does Qualcomm think?

Qualcomm's different "price ratio"

To understand why there is the Snapdragon 860, and why Qualcomm started to introduce new bottles of old wine this year, we might as well take a look at the situation of the Snapdragon 870 in the mobile phone market. In a summary, it is "hot".

Among the recently launched new machine products, many mid-to-high-end products use the Snapdragon 870, ranging from RMB 4000 to RMB 2,000. The Snapdragon 870 is very flexible and has won both manufacturers and consumers in mid-to-high-end products. Acknowledge that this is something that Qualcomm has not been able to enjoy for a long time in the past, and all of this is related to MediaTek.

In the face of Qualcomm's absolute advantage in high-end chips, MediaTek adopted a Tianji racing-style response method and used its own high-end chip Dimensity 1000 series to deal with Qualcomm's mid-range chip 7 series. The performance gap prompted mobile phone manufacturers to choose MediaTek.

Last year, in the price range of 2000-3000 yuan, products such as iQOO Z1 and realme X7 Pro appeared. The chips they use are all MediaTek’s 1000+ series. The higher performance and lower cost performance have made MediaTek a lot According to MediaTek’s financial report, the overall market share in the third quarter of 2020 reached 31%, surpassing Qualcomm’s 29%, ranking first in the market share of mobile phone chips.

Faced with this situation, Qualcomm came up with an enhanced version of the Snapdragon 865 for overclocking, covering product files ranging from RMB 2,000 to RMB 4,000. As the competition becomes increasingly fierce, it is clear that Qualcomm has to further plan and stabilize the RMB 2,000 price range. , This is also the reason why the Snapdragon 860 was released.

Although it is only an enhanced version of the Snapdragon 855, or even an external baseband for the X50, as the price drops further, this problem is not too big.

On the other hand, the Snapdragon 870 and 860 are also conducive to the "cost-effective play" of domestic mobile phone manufacturers. The Snapdragon 8 series has always been a frequent customer in the high-end Android mobile phone market. This has given the public a recognition that the Snapdragon 8 The series are flagships, and mobile phone manufacturers have repeatedly emphasized the selling point of flagship chips at the press conference, which has also strengthened the public's awareness.

▲ Xiaomi Mi 11 debuts Snapdragon 888

The decentralization of high-end chips, even if only the decentralization of the overclocked version, is also a way of high price. Apple next door has already made this set of cost-effective play well-rounded. The iPhone 12 series all use the A14 chip. The gap in product positioning is reflected in the image. Experience, screen, etc., and last year’s second-generation iPhone SE even adopted the same A13 processor as the iPhone 11.

This kind of chip is the same, the price is reduced, and the way to guarantee most of the experience is obviously more cost-effective, and consumers are more willing to pay for it. Although it is said that high-end products have the greatest momentum each year, with the best product features and performance experience, but looking through the annual sales data, we know that the actual sales volume is the highest in the low-end mobile phones. This is determined by the economic environment.

It can be said that the Snapdragon 870 and the Snapdragon 860 are the result of the collusion of Qualcomm as a chip manufacturer and a mobile phone manufacturer. Of course, there may also be the impact of global chip shortages. Lu Weibing, the vice president of Xiaomi Group, used more of the promotion products on Weibo. Mentioned that the chip is out of stock.

The Snapdragon 888 and Apple’s A14 chip are based on the 5nm process, and the production capacity is very limited, so the quantity will naturally be reduced, while the Snapdragon 870 and Snapdragon 860 are based on the 7nm process, which can be alleviated to a certain extent.

Using the Snapdragon 870 and 860 to seize a wider market space, cope with the impact of MediaTek, and increase shipments, the above advantages have given birth to a different cost-effective gameplay of Qualcomm's new bottled old wine.

Neglected low-end market

Behind the combination of high-end Snapdragon 888, 870, and 865 to seize the mid-to-high-end market, it is also a microcosm of the increasing lack of attention in the domestic low-end mobile phone market.

A fact that is not often mentioned is that domestic mobile phone manufacturers have slowed down a lot in the low-end market in the past two years. When you open JD to search for 5G mobile phones, you will find that there are very few products below 1,000 yuan, iQOO U1X and realme Q2i are both MediaTek chips are used, and they are all sold at a price of 1,000 yuan.

In my previous article, I also mentioned that the number of thousand yuan phones sold by major mobile phone brands in 2020 is very limited, and there are almost no this year. A few years ago, thousand yuan phones were still the largest shipments of major mobile phone brands, but now they are very popular. Ignore.

Even mobile phone stores such as Huawei set the mobile phone to the mode of large fonts and large icons by default. When asked about the reason, they all said that they are set up specifically for the elderly, because most of the product positioning at this price is for the elderly.

This is also the result of the mature development of the mobile phone market. A few years ago, in order to seize the market and strengthen brand awareness, mobile phone manufacturers opened the market with cost-effective and low-end products to promote sales. Today, mobile phone manufacturers such as Huami OV and Apple have been long-term Occupying the top five positions of domestic mobile phone manufacturers, they also occupy a larger market share.

This leads them to make money in the more profitable mid-range market. Consumers are also buying high-end mobile phones. According to data released by the data agency QuestMobile, the proportion of the number of terminals above 1,000 yuan in the domestic Android ecosystem is significantly more than 1,000 yuan. the following.

From June 2019 to June 2020, there is still a significant decline, and the 3000 yuan gear has a corresponding increase. This is also the result of fewer and fewer newly released 100 yuan machines and more and more mid-to-high-end products. The result.

Another reason is cost. Since the emergence of 5G chips, mobile phone manufacturers have started a wave of price increases, and have expressed their intention to enter the high-end mobile phone market. Of course, 5G components have brought cost increases, and 5G has brought The improved experience has also spawned a wave of machine replacements.

When you open Qualcomm's official website, you will find that the Snapdragon 7 series and Snapdragon 6 series do not support 5G chips, and even the Snapdragon 6 series only has one. Although Qualcomm said last year that it would launch 4 series 5G chips in the first quarter of 2021, we still haven't seen it yet, and there is still a long way to go before 5G mobile phones are truly popular in various price ranges.

The 4 series chips have been delayed, and the speed of launching the Snapdragon 870 and Snapdragon 860 in new bottles of old wine in the middle and high-end can also reflect the low attention of the low-end market and the relatively low profit.

In today’s mobile phone market, chips are more than just competing for performance.

As mentioned above, MediaTek used Tian Ji's horse racing method to seize the market. Qualcomm has highlighted the cost-effectiveness by launching an overclocked version of its old flagship chip. The core element is the performance of the chip itself, and the performance-specific running score is also very popular.

But in fact, whether it is Dimensity 1200 or Snapdragon 888, it is enough to deal with basic operations. Consumers' requirements for mobile phone experience are not limited to smoothness, which has also prompted chip manufacturers to begin to expand more chip features.

What is often mentioned is the AI ​​performance of the chip. Through artificial intelligence learning, the mobile phone experience is improved. Like before, Apple used smart learning to let people wear masks to unlock the iPhone, which is driven by algorithm learning. This has become a mobile chip competition. The next important point.

Huawei once added a unit called NPU to the mobile phone chip, which is mainly responsible for machine learning, such as gesture recognition in the air, AI recognizes the shooting scene and automatically switches the macro mode, etc., all have the credit of this NPU.

Of course, the most typical application on mobile phones is computational photography. Apple once introduced a camera feature, Deep Fusion, at the iPhone 11 conference. Its working principle is to take multiple photos with different exposures before the user presses the camera button. In order to obtain a more detailed and better-looking photo, the machine learning algorithm is used to synthesize these photos.

Nowadays, a large number of chips support the corresponding multi-frame synthesis algorithm, and the improvement of AI computing power has become a place that will inevitably be emphasized when mobile chips are launched.

In addition to the characteristics of mobile phones, the chip's support for the entire hardware ecosystem is also being valued more and more. Qualcomm has previously cooperated with Google to jointly undertake part of the upgrade and adaptation work, so that mobile phones equipped with Qualcomm chips can support 4 years of Android system updates. And security updates, and improve the update speed.

In terms of linking to other devices, Qualcomm also launched a chip based on TrueWireless technology. In addition to low-power Bluetooth technology support and fast connection to devices, it also supports the secondary headset to mirror and copy the data received by the main headset, effectively reducing latency. In order to expand the excellent touch experience, Qualcomm teamed up with Lofelt, a company specializing in touch interaction in the industry, to establish a better software framework to create a better vibration interaction experience.

These will be popularized in most Android phones by loading chips on their phones.

The running score is still an important quantitative experience item for chip performance, but the in-depth creation of system ecology and hardware ecology by chip manufacturers will form new competitiveness. After all, after the performance growth rate has slowed down, the connection with external devices is smooth, the mobile phone system is updated, Photography and so on determine how good the mobile phone is, and it will be used for a long time.

They are the next focus of the development of mobile phone chips.

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