The Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Plus is here, although we were already sure that it would be announced, sooner or later. The enhanced version of the present generation flagship chipset, the Snapdragon 888, brings similar improvements to the latter as the Snapdragon 865 Plus did to its non-Plus brethren. Namely, it offers a faster peak core clock speed, and while the AI co-processing engine remains the same, it now gets better performance chops. The exact figures of this enhanced performance may be significant — or otherwise too, depending on exactly how invested in consumer grade mobile processing technology you are.
What it offers
Coming to the brass tacks, the new Snapdragon 888 Plus SoC now features a faster Kryo 680 boost core that Qualcomm says runs at 3GHz. The exact figure, technical documents reveal, is 2.995GHz on the new chip, so this represents a just over 5 percent performance rise from the peak core only — 5.46 percent, to be exact. From the 6th generation AI engine that resides in the Snapdragon 888 Plus, Qualcomm has managed to extract 32 TOPS AI performance — up from 26 TOPS in the vanilla Snapdragon 888. This marks an over-20 percent improvement in background AI processing prowess, which is a big jump indeed for such a mid-cycle chip refresh.
Can it make a big difference?
While such numbers don’t hold much significance to the general users, in terms of their overall impact, it could theoretically lead to background processing of heavy AI and AR tasks a bit better. In other words, you may get flagships that offer an ever so incrementally smoother heavy application usage experience. That, though, is the problem, too. The real trick in these situations is how subtle changes seldom have big enough impacts on the consumer end of things, and instead offer underlying optimisations that may not truly affect the real world performance on an immediate basis.
With the new Snapdragon 888 Plus, this will continue to remain the biggest question. The AI engine improvement that Qualcomm is flaunting is also a rather umbrella term, which doesn’t particularly point to an upgrade in the Hexagon 780 DSP per se. Given that this already points to a background task capacity, the Snapdragon 888 Plus may not be all that different from its standard variant. Qualcomm could have also taken this opportunity to address the reports of the Snapdragon 888 chip overheating, but it does not say a word about any new thermal technology on the 888 Plus. The latter may have made even this incremental update something worth talking about, but for now, we’ve disappointingly given it a miss.
Devices with the SD888+
Qualcomm does likely want you to believe that it has taken its mid-life refresh of the Snapdragon 888 more seriously than it did with the Snapdragon 865 Plus. As a result, alongside the announcement, Qualcomm has also announced the support of Asus, Honor, Motorola, Vivo and Xiaomi, all of whom have committed to launching flagship smartphones with the new SoC, soon. The announcement comes at a time when reports of Xiaomi launching its next flagship with the purported Snapdragon 895 are getting stronger, so whichever device Xiaomi launches will have a fairly short lived phase at the top of the pile.
Qualcomm states that the Snapdragon 888 Plus will start featuring in devices starting Q3 2021, which technically means that we can start expecting some of the announcements with the 888 Plus starting July itself – in a few days, that is. More details should come our way soon, when each of these five OEMs, or any others, come close to launching any of their upcoming flagship phones.