Qualcomm may have only released its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in November 2022, but development of its successor is already underway.
Here’s all we know so far about the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, including confirmed information on the Snapdragon X75 5G modem and the latest Arm CPU cores.
When will the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 be released?
We have no official date so far confirming the arrival of the new chip, but Qualcomm has established a pretty regular release schedule over the past few years, so we think it’s highly likely that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 will be released in November or December 2023.
This would be in keeping with all of the Snapdragon 8 mobile processors, which made their debuts around the same time:
We haven’t heard any reports that this schedule has been disrupted, so its looks good for a winter release this year.
In February, leaker Digital Chat Station suggested on Weibo that the 8 Gen 3 will launch earlier than the 8 Gen 2 did, so before November. If this is the case, it doesn’t leave much time for Qualcomm to launch the expected 8+ Gen 2 chip for its half-year chipset update, just like it did in May 2022 with the 8+ Gen 1.
Too many chips, one might argue.
What new features will we see in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3?
We don’t know for sure what to expect in the 8 Gen 3 chipset, but thanks to component announcements and a few leaks, we think we have a pretty good idea about a few bits.
3nm Arm CPUs
Chip designer Arm has now unveiled its latest CPUs, and its first designed for a 3nm process, and these are almost certain to appear in the 8 Gen 3.
The Cortex-X4 is the most important, delivering 15% more power than the previous generation at up to 40% improved power efficiency. It’s joined in the new generation by the A720 and A520, each of which promises roughly 20% improved efficiency year-on-year.
In the 8 Gen 2, Qualcomm kitted out its Kryo CPU design with a 1+4+3 configuration, using an X3, two each of the A715 and A710, and a trio of A510 efficiency cores.
If we see the same again, the 8 Gen 3 should be led by the Cortex-X4 prime core, backed up by either four A720 cores or a mix of them and A715 units, and finally rounded out by three of the new A520 chips.
That said, we’ve heard otherwise. The usually reliable tipster Digital Chat Station reported in April that the 8 Gen 3 will use a new 1+5+2 configuration, led by an X4 clocked at 3.7GHz (up from 3.2GHz in the 8 Gen 2’s X3). That would mean a shift to even more performance cores – likely the A720 – and fewer efficiency units.
Then again, in that same report the leaker claimed that Qualcomm will be sticking with a 4nm process – and since we know that the new Arm chips are intended for 3nm production, that doesn’t seem right, casting the rest of the claims into doubt too. It may be that we see a 3nm CPU embedded in a chipset with other 4nm components though.
Still, there has been some speculation about the move to a 3nm process. Samsung was the first to achieve this size, but initially it was reported to have only managed to return a yield of 20% per wafer, which obviously isn’t efficient and would result in increased prices for the processors. Qualcomm has now reportedly moved production to Taiwanese manufacturer TSMC, which has managed a much higher 75-80% return.
Samsung did improve its output though, as GSMArena states that once the Korean giant had partnered with US company Silicon Frontline Technology the yield increased to around 60-70%.
All of this has resulted in various reports saying that production will be either all via TSMC or a combination of both. Only time will tell who get to make the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3.
So, what will a 3nm process bring that makes it worth all this hassle? Well, GizChina reports that the new process should deliver improved performance, plus an important 35% improvement in energy efficiency, with its obvious benefits on battery life.
Adreno 750 GPU
We know less about the 8 Gen 3’s GPU. Digital Chat Station has reported that it will be called the Adreno 750, but beyond that there’s little information.
Arm has unveiled the GPUs to go along with its latest CPUs, and the flagship is the Immortalis-G720, with 15% improved performance on its predecessor. However, Qualcomm has traditionally designed its own GPUs rather than use Arm’s Mali and Immortalis designs, so it’s unlikely that we’ll see this in the new Snapdragon.
Snapdragon X75 5G modem
A big clue to satellite connectivity coming as standard on the 8 Gen 3 – though far from confirmed – is the official announcement of the Snapdragon X75, Qualcomm’s latest 5G modem.
Announced in February 2023, the X75 is the latest next-gen 5G modem component that Qualcomm tends to announce at this time of year in advance of its flagship chipsets. The X70 was launched in February 2022 and ended up in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip come November, hinting heavily that the X75 will duly make its way into the 8 Gen 3.
Qualcomm says the X75 is the world’s first 5G Advanced-ready modem-RF system. Translation: its transceiver can singularly handle mmWave and sub-6 band 5G, readying it for the evolution of 5G networks that use both frequencies.
The company claims this design can result in significant cost and power savings, which are both things smartphone makers are keen to take advantage of.
The X75 also allegedly adds in 2.5x faster AI processing compared to the X70, and has dual SIM dual active tech to allow for two simultaneous 5G data connections.
It also seems to be a given that the chip will include support for the new Snapdragon Satellite tech that Qualcomm announced at CES 2023, allowing emergency communications without normal mobile signal – and eventually even basic two-way messaging. This is actually already included in the 8 Gen 2, and has been made available to manufacturers to include in new handsets, so it seems certain it will appear in the next generation too.
Which phones will use the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3?
Obviously, with the release date still far in the distance, we don’t have any confirmed reports of which phones will come with the Gen 3 chip onboard, but going by past history we can make a few confident predictions.
With the previous generation, some of the first devices out of the gate were the Vivo X90 Pro+, Xiaomi 13 and Xiaomi 13 Pro, and OnePlus 11. We would be pretty certain that those phones’ successors will also be racing to get the new silicon in their flagships for 2024.
As with most years, the Qualcomm processor should also make it to many other flagships, including from companies like Samsung, Motorola, and Oppo.
To see which phones those newly equipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 will have to beat, check out our current picks of the best smartphones, along with the best upcoming phones in 2023.