Qualcomm Snapdragon Naming Scheme Explained (2024)

Ever since Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 landed back in 2021, Qualcomm’s chipset naming scheme may have become a bit of a spider’s web. While it does not take much to tell the mid-range Snapdragon 7 apart from the flagship Snapdragon 8 series, it is the internal classifications of these processor classes that make things complicated.

With processors releasing left, right, and center, how do you make sense of it all? If you are to get a phone powered by any of those infinite Snapdragon chipsets out there, how do you know which will suit your needs the best? These very questions gave birth to this explainer, and I’m out here to make it easier for you to understand Qualcomm’s chipset naming scheme.

How Does Qualcomm Name Its Mobile Chipsets

At the Snapdragon Technology Summit in 2021, we jump straight from the Snapdragon 888 to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. The main reason behind this change was Qualcomm finding the number scheme back then to be limited. If that were to continue, things would be redundant post the number 899. So, instead of entering the 900 series in a few years, Qualcomm thought it better to start the ‘Gen’ series, sadly, making it more complicated for phone buyers.

Right now, you get to see four different tiers of the new mobile Qualcomm chipsets with the “Gen” nomenclature. Namely, these are:

  • Snapdragon 8 Gen series
  • Snapdragon 7 Gen series
  • Snapdragon 6 Gen series
  • Snapdragon 4 Gen series

Now, each of these tiers is further classified into three different categories. To make it easier and less confusing, I’m referring to the sub-tier as “X” here. With that said, here’s how the chipset tiers are further broken down:

Qualcomm chipset tiers breakdown
Image Courtesy: Qualcomm

Snapdragon X (Stock Variant)

This is the standard un-modded variant of the Snapdragon chipset. These are off-the-shelf chipsets that haven’t been modified in any way to boost the performance or bring it down. For example – the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, 8 Gen 2, 7 Gen 1, 7 Gen 2, and the like.

Snapdragon Xs (Toned-down Variant)

Then, to make these processors accessible to a wider audience, Qualcomm makes cheaper versions of them. They do so by underclocking the CPU and GPU of the regular version of the chipset, adding an s to its moniker.

For example – the newly released Snapdragon 8s Gen 3, Snapdragon 7s Gen 2, etc. To make things a bit easier to understand, let me take a look at the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and its toned-down 8s Gen 3 variant.

While the prime core of the 8s Gen 3, that is the Cortex X4, stays the same as the stock 8 Gen 3, the clock speed is decreased. While the Cortex X4 on the 8 Gen 3 can go up to 3.3GHz, the one on the 8s Gen 3 is capped at 3.0GHz. However, that’s not the only difference.

The core configuration is also different, and the Cortex A720 and A520 cores hit lower clock speeds on the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3. To be precise, alongside the Cortex X4, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 packs 3 Cortex-A720 cores clocked at 3.15GHz, 2 Cortex-A720 cores at 2.96GHz, and 2 Cortex-A520 cores at 2.27GHz.

Meanwhile, the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 packs 4 Cortex-A720 cores clocked at 2.8GHz and 3 Cortex-A520 cores at 2.0GHz alongside the Cortex X4. So, you see the 8s Gen 3 uses a small core with its 1+4+3 configuration instead of the 8 Gen 3’s 1+5+2 configuration.

The GPU used in the two chipsets is also different. The 8 Gen 3 features a slightly more capable Adreno 750 GPU at the helm. On the contrary, the 8s Gen 3 is backed by the Adreno 735 GPU.

The difference shows up in the AnTuTu and Geekbench scores of these chipsets as well:

Snapdragon 8 Gen 3Single-Core: 2193 | Multi-Core: 73042087940
Snapdragon 8s Gen 3Single-Core: 1998 | Multi-Core: 53871534230

Snapdragon X+ (Overclocked Variant)

Finally, some Qualcomm chipsets have a plus (+) in their name. These chipsets are the overclocked versions of their regular counterparts. For example – the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, 7+ Gen 2, 7+ Gen 3, etc.

For further clarity, let me take the example of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and its overclocked 8+ Gen 1 variant. We have a dedicated Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 vs 8 Gen 1 benchmark comparison for the same, which you can check out for more details.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1Single-Core: 1196 | Multi-Core: 3655950289
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1Single-Core: 1334 | Multi-Core: 38771020140

Anyway, getting back to it, while you see the same Cortex X2 primary core on the chipsets, the clock speed is boosted to 3.2GHz on the 8+ Gen 1. For your reference, the Cortex-X2 on the 8 Gen 1 has a clock speed of up to 3.0GHz. However, both the chipsets come with the Adreno 730 GPU, so there is no difference there.

Snapdragon Chipset Nomenclature in 2024

Keeping this in mind, let’s take a look at all the chipsets that Qualcomm has released under its new “Gen” nomenclature. This will help you better understand the chipsets and their capabilities. I have created dedicated sections for ease of understanding; take a look.

Snapdragon 8 Series: Flagship

Snapdragon 8 Gen 4coming sooncoming soon
Snapdragon 8s Gen 31x Cortex X4 at 3.0GHz, 4x Cortex-A720 at 2.8GHz, 3x Cortex-A520 at 2.0GHz4nm
Snapdragon 8 Gen 31x Cortex X4 at 3.3GHz/3.4GHz, 3x Cortex-A720 at 3.15GHz, 2x Cortex-A720 at 2.96GHz, 2x Cortex-A520 at 2.3GHz4nm
Snapdragon 8 Gen 21x Cortex-X3 at 3.2GHz/3.36GHz, 2x Cortex-A715 at 2.8GHz, 2x Cortex-A710 at 2.8GHz, 3x Cortex-A510 at 2.0GHz4nm
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 11x Cortex-X2 at 3.2GHz, 3x Cortex-A710 at 2.5GHz, 4x Cortex-A510 at 1.8GHz4nm
Snapdragon 8 Gen 11x Cortex-X2 at 3.0GHz, 3x Cortex-A710 at 2.5GHz, 4x Cortex-A510 at 1.8GHz4nm

The Snapdragon 8 Gen lineup is for those who want performance over anything else. Under or over-clocked, these chipsets deliver top-notch performance and form the top-end of Qualcomm’s chipset catalog.

From Ultra flagships like the Galaxy S24 Ultra and Xiaomi 14 Ultra to premium flagship killers like the OnePlus 12R and iQOO 12, all use these chipsets. You can throw pretty much anything at these devices, and they’ll handle it without breaking any sweat.

Now, with Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 leaks and rumors making rounds of the internet, it will undoubtedly be Qualcomm’s next top-of-the-line offering.

Snapdragon 7 Series: Premium Mid-ranger

Snapdragon 7+ Gen 3_4nm
Snapdragon 7 Gen 31x Cortex-A715 at 2.63GHz, 3x Cortex-A715 at 2.4GHz, 4x Cortex-A510 1.8GHz4nm
Snapdragon 7s Gen 24x Cortex-A78 at 2.4GHz, 4x Cortex-A55 at 1.95GHz4nm
Snapdragon 7+ Gen 21x Cortex-X2 at 2.91GHz, 3x Cortex-A710 at 2.4GHz, 4x Cortex-A510 1.8GHz4nm
Snapdragon 7 Gen 11x Cortex-A710 at 2.4GHz, 3x Cortex-A710 at 2.36GHz, 4x Cortex-A510 at 1.8GHz4nm

We have quite a few offerings in the Snapdragon 7 Gen series. Here, while the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 is a 7 series chip, it is equal in performance to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 860.

Meanwhile, the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 on the POCO F5 stunned us with its performance when it first came out. Being a Snapdragon 7 series chipset, it performed as well as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. This was baffling and it was then that people realized how misleading the naming scheme can be.

The 7+ Gen series of chipsets are actually flagship mid-ranger chipsets that perform very similarly to some 8 Gen series chipsets. For example – the OnePlus Ace 3V (Nord 4) powered by the 7+ Gen 3 is close to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in performance. Check out the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 3 vs 8 Gen 2 benchmark comparison

The point is, devices having the 7 Gen lineup of chipsets can get you through pretty much anything and everything at a lower price point. Like the POCO F5 and upcoming OnePlus Nord CE 4 (review), you will see these mid-rangers carry this generation of chipsets.

Snapdragon 6 Series: Standard Mid-ranger

Snapdragon 6 Gen 14x Cortex-A78 at 2.2GHz, 4x Cortex-A55 at 1.8GHz4nm

As for the Snapdragon 6 Gen series, we just have the 6 Gen 1 right now. For your reference, it has slightly improved performance over the commonly used Snapdragon 695. It’s also more power efficient, based on a 4nm process node.

However, do note that it is very close in performance to the Snapdragon 4 Gen 2 as well. For your reference, smartphones like the Realme 12 Pro and Honor X9B are powered by the 6 Gen 1.

However, like the Snapdragon 4 series (find more on this below), they are not meant for gaming or extensive multitasking either. Of course, you can throw some of it casually in the mix, but won’t get that satisfaction out of it. The Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 is meant to get the job done, just slightly better than the 4 Gen series.

Snapdragon 4 Series: Entry-Level

Snapdragon 4 Gen 22x Cortex-A78 at 2.2GHz, 6x Cortex-A55 at 2.0GHz4nm
Snapdragon 4 Gen 12x Cortex-A78 at 2.0GHz, 6x Cortex-A55 at 1.8GHz6nm

Finally, we have the Snapdragon 4 Gen series, that are on the lowest end of things. The Redmi Note 12, iQOO Z6 Lite, and other such near-entry-level devices carry this chipset under the hood. Devices using this generation of processors are not meant to be powerful. They are supposed to get the job done without that many hiccups. Gaming? Out of the question.

Making Sense of Snapdragon’s Chipset Branding

From the looks of it, over the years, it’s not just an increase in performance that we’ve witnessed with new processors. A major focus has also been on increasing the power efficiency while also retaining the same performance levels or even delivering more.

If you are looking to game, edit videos, and extensively multitask on your phone, the Snapdragon 8 series is the way to go. However, given that phones with such processors can be expensive, you can also go with a handset carrying a 7 Gen chipset under the hood. That should get you through those requirements as well, if not as well.

However, if you are on a tighter budget and can’t go with the SD 8 or 7-series route, a 6 or 4-series chipset should suffice your daily computing needs. And for the pricing, they’ll offer more than you can ask for, and that’s a good deal in my books.

Besides, given that 5G is the new 4G, all Snapdragon Gen series of Qualcomm’s SoCs come with 5G connectivity. So, you don’t have to worry about that anymore.

Most importantly, a chipset’s architecture directly affects a device’s display capabilities as well. For example, while a Snapdragon 4 Gen 1-powered phone can offer a maximum of FHD+ 120Hz display, an 8 Gen 3-powered flagship can offer a QHD+ display with a 144Hz refresh rate. In addition, it can also offer a 4K Ultra HD panel with a 60 Hz refresh rate. So, there’s that.

I know it’s a lot and may have seemed overwhelming, but hopefully, this guide should make things a lot simpler for you to understand. With that being said, let me know in the comments down below if you have any related queries. I’ll be more than happy to help!

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