Qualcomm’s $1,500 smartphone is for its greatest followers with extra money than sense

Qualcomm — the corporate behind the Snapdragon processors and modems that energy virtually each main Android smartphone — is making its personal telephone. Or somewhat, the corporate is partnering with Asus on a customized system formally referred to as the “Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders,” a $1,500 telephone that’s designed to showcase the chip firm’s expertise. And, because the identify suggests, Qualcomm shall be promoting the telephone on to members of its Snapdragon Insider fan group, which Qualcomm launched earlier this yr.

It’s an fascinating concept, however sadly, the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders doesn’t seem like it does something totally different, relating to really making the most of Qualcomm’s expertise, than another Android flagship — which is especially disappointing given the $1,500 price ticket.

A normal flagship spec sheet

The spec sheet right here follows with what you’d anticipate from a flagship Android telephone in 2021: the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders runs Android 11, has 512GB of storage, 16GB of RAM, a 6.78-inch, 144Hz Samsung OLED panel with Gorilla Glass Victus, and a rear fingerprint scanner (utilizing Qualcomm’s 3D Sonic Sensor Gen 2 expertise, after all.) If any of that sounds acquainted, it’s seemingly as a result of the brand new Qualcomm-branded system appears to share quite a bit in frequent with Asus’ ROG Cellphone 5 Final from earlier this yr.

The processor, naturally, is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888, which appears like a curious selection provided that the corporate has already introduced a extra highly effective 888 Plus mannequin. Given the mammoth price ticket and the promise of being an final Qualcomm telephone, it’s an odd miss for the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders.

The battery presents 4,000 mAh of energy, and isn’t the most important we’ve seen in a smartphone, nevertheless it does assist Qualcomm’s Fast Cost 5 commonplace, though not at its full potential, maxing out at 65W for charging, not the 100W-plus speeds the spec is theoretically able to.

The again of the telephone incorporates a triple digital camera setup, with acquainted components from different Asus telephones. The principle digital camera incorporates a Sony IMX686 64-megapixel picture sensor — the identical present in final yr’s Zenfone 7 Professional — whereas the ultrawide sensor makes use of an older 12-megapixel Sony IMX363 sensor (additionally utilized in earlier Asus telephones, in addition to a number of Google Pixel telephones.) Lastly, there’s an 8-megapixel telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom to spherical out the digital camera setup, and a 24-megapixel front-facing digital camera.

Qualcomm is promising that the triple digital camera array will provide a “professional-quality digital camera” expertise, nevertheless it received’t push the Spectra 580’s triple ISP to its restrict, both. Whereas the telephone can shoot 8K at 30 frames per second, and 4K at 30 or 60FPS, it may possibly’t handle taking pictures three simultaneous 4K HDR video streams or shoot three 28-megapixel pictures without delay — two of the most important claims Qualcomm made when it launched the Snapdragon 888 final December.

The Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders shall be one of many first telephones to supply Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon Sound classification, which guarantees hi-fi music playback at as much as 24-bit 96kHz. Qualcomm can also be together with some Grasp & Dynamic earbuds within the field to assist reap the benefits of that; what seems to be a pair of MW08 earbuds with a Snapdragon emblem on them. (These headphones promote for $299 normally, which can assist ease the sting of the $1,499 price ticket right here.)

One other space that the Snapdragon-branded telephone would possibly stand out is with 5G assist. Qualcomm boasts that the telephone will provide “probably the most complete assist for all key 5G sub-6 and mmWavebands and combos in a single system.” There’s additionally assist for Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2.

An costly choice for Qualcomm followers

Along with the telephone and headphones, Qualcomm can also be together with a 65W Fast Cost 5.0 cost, USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A cables, and a rubber bumper for the telephone. However even with all that, the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders appears like a troublesome promote — there are many top-tier Android telephones that provide the identical (or higher) specs for much much less cash, just like the OnePlus 9 Professional or Galaxy S21 Extremely.


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It’s not even significantly profitable at its foremost job as a Qualcomm showcase: the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders doesn’t function the corporate’s newest and biggest processor, and doesn’t push Qualcomm’s expertise additional than another main Android telephone. Positive, it does have a glowing Snapdragon emblem on the again, however that hardly appears definitely worth the premium Qualcomm is asking its most enthusiastic followers to pay right here.

The Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders shall be obtainable this August within the US, China, UK, and Germany to begin, with launches for extra areas within the works.

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