The Snapdragon behind the domestic folding screen flagship

The author of this article, Fang Zhiguang, is reprinted from and has been authorized for reprinting.

On April 11, vivo's first folding screen flagship vivo X Fold, the first tablet vivo Pad and the rare giant-screen flagship vivo X Note were released. Since the beginning of last year, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Honor have successively released flagship folding screen phones. Since then, all major domestic manufacturers have had their own folding screen mobile phones.

This batch of folding screen flagships, in addition to being equipped with the Snapdragon mobile platform, has different main selling points, but they are without exception the names of the top flagships of their respective brands, with the price of domestic mobile phones ranging from 6,000 yuan to a higher range sprint.

The domestic folding screen flagship that broke out in a concentrated manner

The folding screen is a new product form, but in about a year, domestic manufacturers have released 6 related products. After all, it is the flagship of the company and must provide an experience that matches the price. They undoubtedly used the strongest flagship SoC at the time. Among them, 3 models used the Snapdragon 888, and 2 models used the new generation of Snapdragon 8, which is also inevitable.

Xiaomi MIX FOLD was released on March 30, 2021. This is Xiaomi's first real mass-produced machine with a price of 10,000 yuan. CSOT's 8.01-inch 60Hz 2480×1860 inner screen + 6.52-inch 90Hz 2520×840-inch outer screen. Snapdragon 888+5020mAh battery+67W fast charge, 108MP HM2 main camera+1300W ultra wide angle+800W 3x telephoto. The 12+256 version is 9999 yuan, the 12+512 version is 10999 yuan, and the 16+512 ceramic special edition is 12999 yuan.

On December 15, half a year later, OPPO Find N appeared in the form of a "compact folding screen" and refreshed the price record for a horizontal folding screen. Samsung's 7.1-inch 120Hz 1792×1920 inner screen (UTG glass) + 5.49-inch 60Hz 1972×988 outer screen also has a teardrop-shaped hinge. Snapdragon 888 + 4500mAh battery + 33W fast charge, 5000W IMX766 main camera + 1600W ultra wide angle + 1300W 2x telephoto. The 8+256 version is 7699 yuan, and the 12+512 version is 8999 yuan.

On December 23, 8 days later, the Huawei P50 Pocket folded up and down was released. This is the third vertical folding screen series after the Samsung Z Flip series and the moto razr. BOE's 6.9-inch 120Hz 2790×1188 internal screen + circular auxiliary screen. Snapdragon 888, 4000mAh battery + 40W fast charge, 4000W main camera + 1300W ultra-wide angle + 3200W ultra-spectral lens. The 8+256 version is 8988 yuan, and the 12+512 artistic customized version is 10988 yuan.

Then came the Honor released on January 10, 2022. This is the first folding screen mobile phone equipped with a new generation of Snapdragon 8, and it is also claimed to be the thinnest internal folding screen mobile phone. BOE's 7.9-inch 90Hz 2272×1984 inner screen + 6.45-inch 120Hz 2560×1080 outer screen, water drop hinge, 4750mAh battery + 66W fast charge. 5000W main camera + 5000W ultra wide angle + 5000W spectral lens. The price is also 10,000 yuan, 9,999 yuan for the 12+256 version and 10,999 yuan for the 12+512 version.

3 months later, on April 11, 2022, it was vivo X Fold. It is the second flagship of the new Snapdragon 8 folding screen, and it is now the most balanced one. New Snapdragon 8, 4600mAh battery + 66W fast charge + 50W wireless charge. The internal and external screens are all 120Hz Samsung E5+ wide-area ultrasonic fingerprints, and water drop hinges. The inner screen is 8.03 inches, 2160×1916, LTPO+ SCHOTT UTG glass, and the outer screen is 6.53 inches, 2520×1080. Main camera GN5+IMX598 ultra-wide angle+IMX663 2x+800W 5x telephoto. The 12+256 version is 8999 yuan, and the 12+512 version is 9999 yuan.

Folding screens: the next outlet for high-end mobile phones

In the past 10 years, smartphones have been the fastest-growing product in the digital industry, and the technological commanding heights are constantly changing. From the initial SoC hegemony, to the 1080P screen after Qualcomm unified the rivers and lakes, the 2K screen upgrade, the thickness record between OPPO/vivo, the first round of "fast charging war" triggered by Qualcomm QC 2.0, the independent audio chip pushed by vivo The rise and disappearance of the Internet, the collective explosion of Android cameras, the full-screen era opened by Xiaomi MIX, the arms race of ultra-large bottom sensors and ultra-telephoto lenses, and 5G in recent years, mobile phone manufacturers have never stopped.

The mobile phone market will have a new explosion point every one or two years, and now the recognized explosion point is the folding screen. After the two major iterations of full screen and 5G, the shape and configuration of mobile phones converged again, and manufacturers seemed to return to the same starting point again. The folding screen with its own sense of technology and business attributes, as a new form of "two-in-one mobile phone and tablet", allows manufacturers to see a new development window.

The demand for folding screen mobile phones can be traced back to the "ancient" era of PDA personal digital assistants, which can be regarded as the "rebirth of modern PDAs". From the Organiser II in 1984, to the Apple Newton in 1992, to the Windows Moblie products in the early 2000s. No matter what era, high-end business people have an instinctive desire for handheld devices that carry productivity applications.

In the modern era when mobile phones unify the world, dual-screen mobile phones such as Kyocera KS8000 in 2012, ZTE Axon M in 2017, and Microsoft surface Duo in 2019 are all brave attempts. Their final evolutionary form is destined to lead to the foldable screen mobile phone that will be sold in 2019, or the scroll screen mobile phone in 2020. The "PDA" of each era is a product for high-end audiences, but when mobile phones become the carrier of these business functions, the breadth of the audience is no longer the same.

Although it is still questioned by some users, the folding screen mobile phone has proved itself in front of the wallets of consumers around the world.

According to the data of DSCC (Display Supply Chain), a panel supply chain market research institution, the shipment of folding screen smartphones in 2021 will be 7.98 million units, a year-on-year increase of 254%. It expects folding screen phones to double by 2022 to around 14 million units.

Textbook-style exponential growth also appears in Omdia's research statistics, with a larger data caliber: global shipments of folding screen mobile phones will reach 11.5 million units in 2021, and a total of 2.5 million units will be shipped in the two years from 2019 to 2020, while in 2021 9 million units were shipped, a year-on-year increase of 309%. Even more frightening is that 89% of shipments (8 million units) were completed in the second half of 2021, of which Samsung accounted for 88%. According to THEELEC, Samsung plans to sell 13 million foldable phones in 2022.

According to the relatively conservative International Data Corporation (IDC) data, the shipment of folding screens will be 1.9 million units in 2020, and will soar by 264% to 7.1 million units in 2021. IDC predicts that by 2025, shipments of folding screen mobile phones will reach 27.6 million units.

7.1 million units is not a high total for the smartphone market with an annual shipment of 1 billion units, but it accounts for a very high proportion in the high-end segment. Among Android phones above $1,000, folding screen devices account for as much as 1/3, far exceeding the public impression. "Like 5G, foldable devices will likely be the signature and expected feature of the premium Android market," said Nabila Popal, research director at IDC.

The data of panel suppliers can also reflect the popularity of folding screen mobile phones. Samsung Display has increased its purchase volume of folding screen panels by 15% this year. The shipment of related panels will reach 19 million units this year, and it is expected to reach 19 million units in 2025. Reached 75.6 million pieces. That is to say, the CAGR of foldable panels in 2020-2025 may reach 87.5%.

Data from a number of market research institutions show that the folding screen mobile phone market is still in the early stage of explosive growth and has enormous market potential. It is expected that by the peak period in 2025, folding screen phones may account for 7% of the total number of smartphones. This blue ocean market of the order of 70 million to 80 million units cannot be ignored by any manufacturer, especially for domestic manufacturers who are hitting the high-end.

Differentiated selling points under the folding screen

The cost pressure of folding screen devices is relatively low, and the target audience naturally has the need to pursue differentiation. In addition, folding screens are unformed new things for all manufacturers, and manufacturers have enough motivation and space to differentiate. Superimposing the differences in brand positioning, audiences and product concepts makes the differentiated selling points of folding screen flagships more obvious. Their respective main selling points and key functions have formed a market that is now flourishing.

The most special thing about Xiaomi MIX FOLD is its "handheld PC mode", which is still the only one. This mode has a taskbar and start menu similar to the traditional desktop, supports truly free multi-window operation, and you can even create new folders and organize photos on the desktop like a PC.

The OPPO Find N released later is the only mobile phone with a small horizontal folding screen until now. It controls the height of the fuselage. It can be controlled with one hand in the folded state, and it is a mini-type tablet in the unfolded state. ColorOS adds two-finger swipe down in the center of the screen to quickly split the screen and quickly save split-screen shortcuts, which also improves the efficiency of multitasking operations in the internal screen state.

In addition to the inherent advantages of the folding screen in form and document display, vivo X Fold was directly positioned as a "stock speculator" at the press conference. vivo and 6 financial APPs such as Flush Shun and Oriental Fortune have done in-depth cooperation, and can see 16 on one screen. A stock candlestick chart.

From Xiaomi MIX FOLD and OPPO Find N, we can see the multitasking efficiency that manufacturers are pursuing on the folding screen. The MIX FOLD in PC mode may be the model with the highest demand for CPU performance in daily use in recent years, so it is not difficult to understand why they must use the then flagship Snapdragon 888.

The Snapdragon 888 is the first real super-large core Cortex-X1 on the ARM mobile terminal. Its integer operation performance is 23% higher than that of the A78, and the machine learning performance is 2 times higher. Throughout 2021, Snapdragon 888/ Snapdragon 888+ are the mobile platforms with the strongest single-core and multi-core performance in the Android camp, and only it can provide the strongest CPU performance to support the "handheld PC mode" on mobile devices. .

Gaming experience on the folding screen: a match with Qualcomm Adreno

In addition to office work, the huge screen of the folding screen device is also a physical plug-in in the game. A more square screen ratio can display more maps and vertical views in MOBA, FPS and chicken-eating games. This is an important reason why many game lovers choose to play games with tablets and folding screen phones. At the same time, the higher screen resolution also has higher requirements for the GPU, which just matches the powerful graphics performance of the Snapdragon mobile platform.

Qualcomm, which has shipped more than 2.5 billion Adreno GPU devices, is one of the largest GPU manufacturers on the planet. In recent years, Qualcomm has also continued to strengthen the Snapdragon Elite Gaming gaming experience, which was born in 2019. There are now more than 1,000 mobile phones equipped with related technologies.

The core of the gaming experience is Qualcomm's Adreno GPU, which brought a 35% performance increase in the Snapdragon 888 generation, which Qualcomm called the biggest GPU improvement in recent years at the time. But a year later, the new generation of Snapdragon 8 brought a 30% increase in GPU performance, and the game performance improvement under Vulkan was as high as 60%, which once again greatly refreshed its own performance record.

The history of game engines is the history of constantly bringing end-game-level technology to the mobile terminal. The first generation of Snapdragon Elite Gaming introduced technologies such as physically-based rendering (PBR), True HDR10, film-level post-processing, system-level game lag optimization, and game network latency management; the second generation of Snapdragon Elite Gaming was introduced on the mobile side for the first time 144Hz gaming experience, True 10-bit HDR support for the first time, GPU driver update support for the first time.

The third-generation Snapdragon Elite Gaming on the Snapdragon 888 has end-game-level technologies such as Game Quick Touch and VRS variable resolution rendering. On the new Snapdragon 8, the new Adreno image motion engine can use historical frame data to optimize the GPU's motion vector calculation, and also perform multiple optimizations on the Vulkan graphics driver, introducing an advanced version of VRS Pro, and even an exclusive version of Unreal Engine. Optimization, claiming a 50% increase in Temporal Anti-Aliasing (TAA) performance.

Qualcomm's technology tree in the game field has physically enabled MIX FOLD, OPPO Find N, Honor Magic V, vivo X Fold and these folding screen flagships to have excellent game performance from the very beginning.

Business security features that match productivity

In the hands of business people, folding screen devices are a powerful tool for viewing stocks and data sheets at any time. This corresponds to the main business security features of the Honor Magic V and vivo X Fold. Relying on the chip-level security features of the Snapdragon 8, the Honor Magic V has a built-in independent security memory chip and system, which provides double insurance for user data and payment security.

Under the dual protection of the combination of software and hardware, the user's mobile phone is maliciously flashed, and the password of the Honor account will be required to be entered after the phone is turned on. Even if the ROM chip that stores data is physically disassembled, it cannot read the user's personal data inside. In addition, users can also remotely lock the SIM card of the mobile phone after the mobile phone is lost, place the mobile phone to be forced to shut down and hide all incoming calls and messages, so as to prevent the leakage of mobile phone verification codes and information from the root cause.

The same is the enhancement of security features. The just-released vivo X Fold has in-depth cooperation with Qualcomm to conduct in-depth development and adaptation of the Secure Processing Unit (Secure Processing Unit) built into the new Snapdragon 8. The SPU of the new Snapdragon 8 comes with its own independent hardware processor and secure OS. Because it is integrated in the SoC, the SPU shares a more advanced process, consumes less power and has a narrower attack surface than an external security chip.

Based on the hardware protection of the SPU itself, vivo has released its own Qianjing security architecture, covering four levels of chip, kernel, framework and application, in order to tap more potential of the Snapdragon 8 SPU to ensure user information security. Vivo X Fold also passed a series of tests by Tell Labs on underlying hardware, personal data, application scenarios, and special security capabilities with the highest grade 5.

"Inescapable" AI and photo spots

AI and photography are features that are mentioned in almost every mobile phone conference. The new generation of Snapdragon 8 is equipped with Snapdragon Sight Snapdragon imaging technology, and its underlying ISP specifications have skyrocketed, from 14bit of the previous generation to 18bit, and it is the first commercial three-core 18bit ISP on mobile devices, and its throughput has reached exaggerated. 3.2 billion pixels per second.

What is this concept? Convert it to the data volume of 2.40 12-megapixel photos per second, which is quite outrageous. Qualcomm claims that the dynamic range of its image data is 4096 times that of the previous generation, and it is the first mobile platform to support 8K HDR video shooting, and it can even take 64-megapixel photos during 8K HDR shooting, which is more outrageous than outrageous.

What many people don't notice is that Snapdragon Sight is also equipped with an ultra-wide-angle engine that corrects chromatic aberration and distortion at the edges of ultra-wide-angle lenses. At the press conference, Qualcomm and Sony also announced the establishment of a joint laboratory to continue to consolidate the advantages of Sony CMOS and Qualcomm imaging.

The most powerful cameras are the Honor Magic V and vivo X Fold. The former is a 5000W main camera + 5000W ultra-wide-angle + 5000W spectral lens. The core of the multi-camera fusion algorithm that superimposes glory is the concurrent processing of high-pixel data. In addition to the Zeiss T* coating, the vivo X Fold is also equipped with the same GN5 main camera as the iQOO 9 Pro, a 48-megapixel ultra-wide-angle, 2x portrait and 5x periscope telephoto. Its needs are multi-camera support.

On the new Snapdragon 8, AI performance has also been greatly improved like ISP and GPU. The Qualcomm Hexagon DSP in Qualcomm's seventh-generation AI engine directly doubles the speed of its tensor accelerator and shared memory, and has upgraded the neural processing SDK and AI Engine Direct. The AI ​​performance is 4 times that of the previous generation Snapdragon 888. The energy efficiency ratio is increased by 1.7 times.

While improving peak AI performance, the third-generation Qualcomm Sensing Hub of the new Snapdragon 8 uses an always-on AI system architecture, which not only has a separate AI computing module and DSP, but even has an independent storage space. On the premise of supporting a variety of AI algorithms, it can keep the front camera, microphone, gyroscope and other sensors operating for 24 hours with extremely low power consumption.

All of these are the hardware foundation of the AI ​​part of the Honor Magic V launch. The Magic UI 6.0 launched by the Honor Magic V is one of the domestic ROMs with the most AI features. Its Magic Live intelligent engine provides AI functions such as scene perception, user understanding, and knowledge graphs, and can provide itinerary suggestions, urge boarding, one-click boarding pass opening, and one-click subway swiping in scenarios such as boarding and elevators according to the user's location. and other active AI functions. Honor claims that the Magic Live engine is 6 times more accurate than traditional perception technologies, 500 times more real-time, 95% less power-consuming, and has active learning and correction capabilities.

Snapdragon behind the domestic high-end

Smartphones have made rapid progress for more than 10 years. ARM, which focuses on architecture design, Qualcomm, which focuses on chip platforms and modems, TSMC and Samsung, which are responsible for chip foundries, Samsung/Sharp/BOE/Huaxing, who are responsible for the screen, and Sony who are responsible for CMOS. A large number of supply chain companies such as /Howway/Samsung, and mobile phone manufacturers responsible for terminal and system design, as well as countless software developers and developers.

Only at the height of the industry can we understand the inevitability of these folding screen flagships choosing the Snapdragon platform. In a period of short-term impact from globalization, whenever we recall and think about the cooperation between suppliers and global manufacturers such as ARM, Qualcomm, Sony, and Samsung, we can always have a clearer understanding of the meaning of the global industrial chain and division of labor.

At the time when domestic manufacturers hit the high-end, the folding screen equipment provides a similar space for new energy car companies to overtake traditional car companies on the curve, opening up the 10,000-dollar market for the domestic high-end.

Whether it is Xiaomi MIX FOLD and OPPO Find N, which mainly promotes multi-application productivity, or Honor Magic V and vivo X Fold, which mainly promotes business security and AI wisdom, they all put forward higher and more comprehensive functional requirements for mobile platforms. They are also one of the few devices that can fully utilize the performance, gaming, AI, imaging, security and other potential of the Snapdragon 888 and the new generation of Snapdragon 8.

If the pursuit of fluency is the core requirement of low-end products, then high-end products have requirements for almost all core components such as CPU, GPU, ISP, AI engine, SPU, and 5G modem. On the high-end road of domestic mobile phones, mobile phones must not only provide an experience without shortcomings, but also have unique selling points that are different from those of friends, and the pursuit of each is different. The performance of a single GPU and GPU is relatively “easy” to improve, but there are mobile platforms that can provide flagship performance with multiple core components, and there is only one Qualcomm Snapdragon on the market.

In addition to the hardware indicators of the chip platform, the long-term cooperation between Qualcomm and manufacturers, the complete supporting development tools and rich functional interfaces of the Snapdragon platform can greatly shorten the product development cycle, allowing manufacturers to focus on their own unique selling points. This is especially true in the field of folding screens, which has a lot of technical difficulties to overcome. On the road to domestically produced high-end products, the help of Snapdragon is indispensable.

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