Recently, some unusual things have appeared in the mobile phone chip industry.
Last week, Qualcomm launched a new 8-series chip: the Snapdragon 870, and said it will be available in the first quarter of 2021.
At this time, it was only about a month after the first Snapdragon 888 mobile phone, Mi 11, was launched.
This is also the first time in recent years that Qualcomm has launched two chips of different models in its flagship chip series at the same time, with obvious differences in performance and architecture.
The Snapdragon 870 chip itself is not new. In terms of parameters, it is not so much the "low version" of the Snapdragon 888, but it is more like the "secondary enhanced version" of the Snapdragon 865 last year.
▲ Comparison of 865, 865+ and 870 chips. Picture from: AnandTech
Why do you say it is twice? As early as last year, the Snapdragon 865 has launched a "865+" version with a plus sign, and the A77 super core frequency has been increased from the original 2.84GHz to 3.09GHz, and the maximum frequency of the GPU has been increased from 587MHz. To 670MHz.
Let's take a look at the Snapdragon 870 again. Its large core frequency has been raised again and further increased to 3.2GHz. But in addition to this point, the 7nm process technology, the "1+3+4" CPU core composition, and the X55 baseband are all consistent with the 865+.
In other words, the 870 is a chip that is not significantly different from last year's flagship chip, but it uses a newly named chip.
In contrast, the current Snapdragon 888 equipped with Xiaomi Mi 11 and vivo X60 Pro+ models, whether it is the new X1 super core, 5nm process, or X60 integrated baseband, are fundamentally different from the 870.
So, why did Qualcomm choose such an iterative strategy?
▲ MediaTek's latest flagship chip Dimensity 1200/1100
Coincidentally, MediaTek, following Qualcomm, has also recently released new Dimensity flagship chips: Dimensity 1200 and 1100, which also use the method of "changing the CPU/GPU core frequency and adjusting some functional characteristics" to control the flagship. The chip product line is further subdivided.
The differentiation of flagship core product lines and the increase in the number of mobile phone chips may also be a microcosm of intensified competition in the high-end smartphone market.
Qualcomm being exploited
As the big brother in the mobile phone chip market, Qualcomm Xiaolongxin is already well-known. Few suppliers can be like Qualcomm, almost every mobile phone conference, will use its chip as a core selling point to promote.
But last year, with the exception of the flagship 8-series chips, the competitiveness of Qualcomm's mid- and low-end chips was not strong, and this also gave other chip manufacturers opportunities to break through.
We can see that in the second half of last year, a considerable number of mobile phones in the 2000-3000 yuan range chose to carry MediaTek Dimensity 1000+ chips, including OPPO Reno 5 Pro, iQOO Z1, Redmi K30 Supreme Commemorative Edition, and realme X7 Pro. The section is a typical representative.
If the price goes down further to the level of 1000-2000 yuan, such as OPPO's A series, vivo's Y series, or Redmi, there will also be a large number of models using Dimensity 700 and 800 series chips, and only a few will choose Qualcomm's 4 series and 6 series chips.
Relying on these mid-range and mid-to-high-end models, last year's MediaTek snatched a lot of market from Qualcomm, which also put Qualcomm in a state of "backyard fire."
▲Counterpoint data shows that in the Q3 quarter of 2020, MediaTek surpassed Qualcomm with a market share of 31%, becoming the world's largest smartphone chip manufacturer by shipments in the quarter
These price ranges were originally Qualcomm's business. Especially in previous years, due to the good performance of Snapdragon core and a certain brand identity, manufacturers like Xiaomi, OPPO and vivo are basically willing to use Qualcomm chips in mid-range and mid-to-high-end products.
As for why in 2020, MediaTek can successfully obtain the support of several major manufacturers? The reason lies in the chip itself.
▲ The current market problem of Qualcomm chips is that there is a huge gap between the Snapdragon 8 series and the Snapdragon 7 series. Image source: Geek Bay mobile chip ladder diagram
Take last year's MediaTek Dimensity 1000+ as an example. Although MediaTek regards it as a flagship chip, in terms of performance, there is still a certain gap between it and the top flagship core such as the Snapdragon 865, or A14.
But the key to product landing is the price. It can be seen from the corresponding models of iQOO and Redmi that these phones equipped with Dimensity 1000+ are priced at 2000 yuan.
This also means that the real opponent that Dimensity 1000+ has to face is not those 865 phones with a asking price of four to five thousand yuan, but the Snapdragon 765G level.
If you use your own superior horse to fight against someone else's medium horse, it is naturally a win-win situation.
This is the "dislocation competition" tactic adopted by MediaTek.
▲ The Kirin 985 chip is essentially a small performance upgrade version of the Kirin 820
MediaTek is not the only one who seizes this gap. In the domestic market, Xiaomi, OPPO and vivo also need to face another strong opponent at the chip level:
Huawei's Kirin chip.
Last year when Huawei still had the ability to supply chips, it successively released Kirin 820 and Kirin 985 chips, both of which are "mid-to-high-end chips" with better performance than 765G but a gap with 865.
But let's look at the price again. For example, the Honor 30S and Honor X10 equipped with Kirin 820, and the Huawei Nova 7 and 8 series equipped with Kirin 985 are also models of two to three thousand yuan.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the "dislocation competition" tactics of Huawei and MediaTek have indeed made Qualcomm's 6 and 7 series chip status very embarrassing.
After all, when everyone's price range is similar, performance is also a very important consideration, and other products are better than yours, which can reflect competitiveness.
Today, the appearance of the Snapdragon 870 is to fill the gap between Qualcomm's flagship core and mid-end core.
This is not the first time Qualcomm has done this. Going back 3 years, Qualcomm has also added a 7 series between the Snapdragon 8 series and the mid-range Snapdragon 6 series to ensure the competitiveness of the mid-to-high-end product line.
However, when the 7 series chips appeared, the positioning of the Snapdragon 6 series cores was directly reduced by one level, and nowadays, there are few mainstream domestic models. The launch of the Snapdragon 870 may also bring a new round of changes to the subsequent 7-series chips.
The naming and iteration of mobile phone chips is originally a science
Some people do not understand, since the Snapdragon 870 is an "improved model" based on the 865 and 865+ chips, why does Qualcomm use the name "870" which sounds brand new?
The reason behind it may still be to take care of the "face" of mobile phone manufacturers.
For mobile phone manufacturers, the chip is the most important part of the product's selling point. Products like Xiaomi 11 that have won the first qualification of the 888 flagship core, no matter in terms of pricing or post-propaganda, they have further initiative.
But later brands can’t do that. In order not to repeat the stories that others have told countless times, they need to seek more selling points outside of chips to support higher prices. Otherwise, they can only choose to take the cost-effective route.
It's not that there are no products on the market that have "new models with old flagship cores". For example, the iQOO Neo released in 2019 is a product that "uses the previous 8 series flagship and hits the current 7 series mid-end" product. At the same price, it can naturally reflect a higher advantage.
But doing so is limited to the "price ratio". Even if the 845 Baodao is not old, it is stronger than many mid-range chips, but the label of "old products" exists objectively, which greatly limits the price ceiling and positioning of the product.
A core question is how can manufacturers convince consumers to pay for an "obsolete chip"? No one from Android manufacturers has done this before, and it is essentially a thankless business.
However, the mobile phone market does have a special case of "one-generation chips sold for three years," and that is Apple. At the annual new iPhone conference, after Apple launches new models, it will continue to retain the previous two generations of old products, which indirectly extends the life cycle of a chip.
Regardless of the closed ecology, this is related to the fact that the A-series chips only serve as flagships while maintaining the lead in performance. For example, the A13 Bionic in 2019, put on the iPhone SE in 2020, can still break the wrist with the top Android flagship of the same period in performance, then the Apple chip will naturally gain higher recognition in the market.
Then let's think about it in another way: this matter is handed over to Qualcomm, is it feasible to decentralize last year's 865 flagship core to this year's mid-range machine?
In principle, of course there is no problem, but as mentioned in the previous article, whether the manufacturer is willing to promote an "outdated" chip, and how Qualcomm itself, 8 series decentralized, the original 6 series, 7 series, these mid-to-high-end chips , This will involve changes in the entire product line.
Now, the emergence of the Snapdragon 870 brings a new strategy.
At the product level, the 870 is a minor facelift. It is undoubtedly a "new bottle of old wine", but from the perspective of marketing and promotion, it has a brand new name, which indirectly solves the problem of "delivering flagship cores to this year".
You can see that after Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 870, brands including Motorola, OPPO, OnePlus, Xiaomi, and iQOO have all confirmed that they will launch corresponding products in the first quarter, proving that manufacturers are not satisfied with the use of the previous-generation flagship core technology. taboo.
In the final analysis, everyone just needs a "new thing" that is justified.
Even if the 870 is a tube of "toothpaste", it cannot be ignored that its own flagship core strength can still meet the needs of 90% of users.
As long as its price is reasonable enough, I personally will not refuse this tube of toothpaste.
More high-end cores may not be a bad thing
In the past two years, smart phone manufacturers have been rushing to high-end prices, which is the consensus of the industry. This is even more so this year. Due to the market gap left by Huawei, the three MiOVs hope to make further efforts in the high-end market. Relatively, they naturally need more diversified product lines to support them.
The most obvious point is the emergence of large-span product lines such as "medium cups, large cups, and super large cups." In order to do the gradient division, it is often reflected by different chips.
So, if MediaTek and Samsung did not enter the game last year, what can mobile phone manufacturers do with only Snapdragon 7 series and 8 series chips? With a high probability, 765G and 865 can only be used to force a match.
However, we can also see in the performance graph just now that the performance span of these two chips is very large. Using AnTuTu to run the score, the score can be almost twice as bad. If it is placed directly on the middle cup and the big cup, the price gap will be widened, and that is definitely not appropriate.
This is why, in the OPPO Reno 5 series at the end of last year, it only used the Snapdragon 765G in the standard model, but the Dimensity 1000+ was used in the Pro level, and the Snapdragon 865 was used in the highest Pro+ version. So as to complete the matching of high, middle and low grades.
The vivo X60 series is similar, but it simply abandoned Qualcomm and directly switched to Samsung Exynos 1080, allowing both the standard and Pro models to obtain similar performance to the same level of 865. This immediately raised the starting point of the X60 a lot.
The X60 Pro+ uses the Snapdragon 888, so that when combined, the three models will not be too far apart.
These examples all prove that Qualcomm's mid-to-high-end chip composition has gaps, and it is difficult for manufacturers to match a product line that spans flagship, high-end, and mid-range positioning.
The Snapdragon 870 is to complement the middle link, allowing mobile phone manufacturers to better hit the high-end.
▲ Picture from: PetaPixel
It is foreseeable that the emergence of Snapdragon 870 will bring new changes to the entire mid-to-high-end mobile phone market this year.
On the one hand, mobile phone manufacturers will get more options on mid-to-high-end chips. For example, the Dimensity 1200/1100 will definitely compete with the Snapdragon 870 in the first half of the year, and ultimately promote healthy competition.
On the other hand, consumers will also experience better products. Not sure, in the future, there will be a batch of mobile phones priced at two to three thousand yuan that will choose to carry the 870. Then these phones that could only use 7-series chips have achieved performance comparable to last year's flagship phones.
Before long, the mid-to-high-end "genuine machine" battle, the competition between flagships and sub-flagships, and even the competition between Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Samsung, may all be staged one by one.
#Welcome to follow Aifaner's official WeChat account: Aifaner (WeChat ID: ifanr), more exciting content will be provided to you as soon as possible.