Qualcomm's 8S Gen 3 targets more expensive high-end phones

Qualcomm has introduced a new chipset designed to sit below its current flagship in terms of capabilities and price. The Snapdragon 8S Gen 3 aims to bring most of the features of the 8 Gen 3 — including support for on-device AI models — to much cheaper phones. This marks a new tier for the top-of-the-line 8-series chips, and it's also a bit confusing.

Before we get into all that, let's start with the straightforward stuff: the 8S Gen 3 includes the same GPU as the standard 8 Gen 3, albeit with a less efficient core and running at a lower frequency – 3.0GHz and 3.4GHz on the 8 Gen 3 running up to the Prime Core. The new 8S Gen 3 also uses the previous-gen X70 5G modem, which includes Wi-Fi 7 support. There's also support for hardware-accelerated ray tracing, so photorealistic games run more smoothly, which seems to be the benchmark for phone flagships these days.

Naturally, there is AI. The 8S Gen 3 supports multimodal generative AI on-device and can run large language models with up to 10 billion parameters – including the likes of Llama 2 and Gemini Nano. It doesn't offer all the AI ​​capabilities of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, but it does support gen AI virtual assistants and image enhancement.

Each Snapdragon high-end tier can be divided into three sub-categories, as Qualcomm's Deepu John, senior director of product management, explained. There are Snapdragon 8, 7, 6 and 4 series chipsets, with up to three different offerings. This “S” series chip sits below the standard 8 Gen 3, and will sit on top if Qualcomm ever releases the 8 Plus Gen 3.

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Did you know? At best, it's even more confusing when you remember that phone manufacturers are still using 2022's flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in flagship phones like the OnePlus 12R. The Snapdragon 7 Gen 3 sits just below the 8S Gen 3. A few phones. Qualcomm seems to be slicing the high-end phone market pretty thin, perhaps in an attempt to keep OEMs from turning to MediaTek.

Either way, the 8S Gen 3 will start appearing on the market soon, though not among devices that will be sold immediately in the US. Honor, iQOO, Realme, Redmi and Xiaomi have all said they will use the platform with new devices expected “in the coming months”.

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