Qualcomm's Snapdragon 710 packs a mean midrange punch

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 600-series SoCs have been common choices for midrange phones from a variety of vendors. Those aging chips are missing some of the features needed for the next wave of reasonably-priced handsets to stay competitive, particularly in the realms of graphics and image processing, so-called "AI" functions, and faster LTE connectivity. Qualcomm says the 10-nm-fabbed Snapdragon 710 delivers on all these fronts and packs a 20% overall performance boost and up to a 40% reduction in power consumption while gaming compared to the 14-nm Snapdragon 660.

The Snapdragon 710 improves upon the Snapdragon 660's setup of four Kryo 260 ARM Cortex-A72 cores at 2.2 GHz and four 1.8 GHz Cortex-A53 cores churning at up to 1.8 GHz with a whole new loadout of two 2.2-GHz Kryo 360 Cortex-A75 cores and six Kryo 360 Cortex-A55 cores that run at a slower 1.7 GHz. The chip can peek and poke from a pool of up to 8 GB of 1866 MT/s LPDDR4X memory, though the exact configuration is up to the smartphone builder. Qualcomm says the Snapdragon 710 has an AI Engine that uses the integrated Hexagon 685 vector processor and the GPU together. 

As for graphics, the Adreno 512 IGP in the previous-gen chip gives way to a faster Adreno 616 setup. The new IGP gives the SoC the ability to play back 4K HDR video, which is a new feature for Qualcomm chips outside the high-end Snapdragon 800-series family. The maximum supported display resolution is 3360x1440, and there's HDR10 support on tap along with acceleration for the H.264, H.265, and VP9 codecs. The company says that the OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0, Vulkan, and DirectX 12 APIs are supported, suggesting that the chip could end up in a future Windows Always Connected PC.

Camera feeds go through Qualcomm's Spectra 250 image signal processor. The implementation in the Snapdragon 710 can handle input from a single 32-megapixel camera, or a 20-MP feed from an increasingly-ubiquitous dual-camera setup. The ISP can capture 4K video at 30 FPS and 1920x1080 video at up to 120 FPS.

The chip maker says users can expect a reduction in power consumption of up to 40% when watching 4K HDR video and playing games when compared to the current Snapdragon 660. The company goes on to say that users can expect 20% better efficiency when streaming HD video. Power replenishment is almost as important as power consumption, and Qualcomm says the Quick Charge 4+ tech baked into the Snapdragon 710 can help boost a dead battery to a 50% charge in as little as 15 minutes.

The integrated Snapdragon X15 LTE modem promises Cat 13 uplink and Cat 15 downlink capabilities. That translates into speeds up to 150 Mbps upstream and 800 Mbps downstream in ideal conditions. All this data flows through a 4x4 MIMO antenna setup supporting 3x20 MHz carrier aggregation, up to 256-QAM, and two carriers. Qualcomm says Wi-Fi connectivity has a 2x2 back end and dual-band 5 GHz support. Oddly enough, there's also a mention of "60 GHz" that would imply support for 802.11ad (WiGig), but the maker only mentions 802.11ac.

Qualcomm expects third-party products built around the Snapdragon 710 to start appearing on store shelves before the end of Q2 2018. This chip is Qualcomm's first SoC in the new 700-series. According to Anandtech, replacements for the higher-end members of the current 600-series lineup will move to 700-series branding and only the lower-specced chips will continue to wear 600-series badges.

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