Snapdragon 700 brings AI acceleration to lower-cost phones

Qualcomm wants to bridge the gap between high-end and budget devices.

There's long been a conspicuous feature gap between Qualcomm's mobile processors: You typically have to choose between a do-it-all beast like the Snapdragon 845 or settle for the good-enough features of midrange parts like the Snapdragon 600 series. The company is trying to bridge that divide today. It's introducing the Snapdragon 700 series, which promises some of the features from the 800 line without the pricey hardware. It's providing only a handful of details as we write this, but they'll give you an idea of what to expect.

Most notably, the 700 range will include the 800's AI Engine and Spectra image processing. If you're using an AI-savvy device or thrive on mobile photography, you could have the same experience as someone toting the latest flagship phone. Qualcomm is also promising recent (if expected) additions like Bluetooth 5.0 and Quick Charge 4.0 support, as well as new variants on its Kryo CPU cores and Adreno graphics. You can expect as much as a 30 percent power-efficiency boost over a Snapdragon 660, Qualcomm said, in addition to unspecified speed advantages.

It's likely to take several months before you find the new Snapdragon in shipping hardware. Samples don't reach Qualcomm's clients until sometime in the first half of 2018, and it'll take longer than that for manufacturers to build chips into finished products. When the 700 series does arrive, though, it should spark a shift in the Android phone market. You may see more in-between devices that outperform typical midrange smartphones, but don't carry the stratospheric prices associated with the latest flagships.

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