Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 is powered by Cortex-X4 core and features premium features

Qualcomm chipsets are tiered by number, but there’s a further breakdown of “+” and more recently “s” models. Today, the company launched the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3, a chipset that offers a range of premium Snapdragon features without costing as much as the top-tier 8 Gen 2 and 8 Gen 3 chips.

The 8s Gen 3 is a 4nm chip with a 3.0GHz Cortex-X4 main core, four 2.8GHz performance cores, and three 2.0GHz efficiency cores. It supports up to 24GB of LPDDR5x RAM (up to 4,200MHz) and UFS 4.0 storage. In terms of connectivity, it implements USB 3.1 Gen 2 over USB-C.

Here’s how it compares to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and the older Snapdragon 8 Gen 2:

Snapdragon 8 second generation Snapdragon 8s third generation Snapdragon 8 third generation
node TSMC 4nm TSMC 4nm TSMC 4nm
CPU (Premium) 1x Cortex-X3@3.2/3.36GHz 1x Cortex-X4@3.0GHz 1x Cortex-X4@3.3/3.4GHz
CPU (large) 2x Cortex-A715@2.8GHz
2 Cortex-A710 @ 2.8GHz
4x Cortex-A720@2.8GHz 3x Cortex-720@3.15GHz
2x Cortex-720@2.96GHz
CPU (small) 3x Cortex-A510@2.0GHz 3x Cortex-A520@2.0GHz 2 Cortex-A520 @ 2.3GHz
Memory Up to 24GB LPDDR5x 4,200MHz Up to 24GB LPDDR5x 4,200MHz Up to 24GB LPDDR5x 4,800MHz
storage UFS 4.0 UFS 4.0 UFS 4.0
USB USB 3.1 USB 3.1 Gen 2 USB 3.1 Gen 2
graphics processor Adrenaline 740 Adrenaline 735 Adrenaline 750
5G modem X70 X70 X75
internet service provider Triple 18-bit Triple 18-bit Triple 18-bit
video 8K HDR@30fps
4K HDR@60fps
8K HDR@30fps

As you can see, this isn’t just a merged version of 8 Gen 3. It has the Cortex-X4 core at a lower clock speed and also comes in a 1+4+3 configuration of 4 big cores and 3 small cores. The original 8 Gen 3 chip has a 1+5+2 configuration.

RAM support is closer to 8 Gen 2, and we’re seeing the older Snapdragon X70 5G modem instead of the X75. However, Qualcomm said that 8s Gen 3 implements 3GPP Release 17 and 5G power saving, while 8 Gen 2 does not. Either way, the chip is ready for the new Wi-Fi 7 standard, so phones will be able to enjoy more bandwidth and lower latency. For audio, 15-bit 44.1kHz lossless wireless streaming and Auracast are supported.

Let’s take a closer look at what premium features Qualcomm has chosen for the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3.

Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 Highlights
Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 Highlights

Generative AI is at the forefront as new applications gain popularity but also expose new problems. The 8s chip can run the most popular models like the Llama 2, Baichuan-7B, and the Gemini Nano (Pixel 8 users recently found that their phones couldn’t run the Gemini Nano—one of the new issues we mentioned). Supports models with up to 10 billion parameters. The s-model isn’t quite as fast as the 8 Gen 3 for tasks, but it stands out from the older 8 Gen 2 with its on-device AI support.

Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 is powered by Cortex-X4 core and features premium features

In addition to artificial intelligence, the new chip aims to deliver a flagship camera experience and top-tier gaming performance. For the former, it includes a triple 18-bit ISP that works in conjunction with the Hexagon NPU for image processing. It implements an “always-sensing camera” feature that speeds up face unlocking and QR code scanning. The ISP+NPU combination also improves image quality in the dark and even allows for overcoating (i.e. “uncropping” the image).

On a more technical note, it can run three 36MP cameras at 30 fps with zero shutter lag, or one 108MP camera at 30 fps and still have no shutter lag. Maximum image capture resolution is 200MP. Supports 10-bit HEIC and HEVC images and videos, and 4K HDR video up to 60fps. Note that there is no 8K video mode, nor is there a 4K video mode at 120fps. These are reserved for the range-topping 8 Series models.

For gaming, the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 (SM8635) comes with a powerful Adreno GPU. It supports hardware accelerated ray tracing. Adreno Frame Motion Engine 2.0 doubles frame rates without increasing power consumption, and Snapdragon Gaming Super Resolution adds extra pixels to images at no extra cost.

Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 is powered by Cortex-X4 core and features premium features

The chip can drive an onboard QHD+ display at up to 144Hz or a 4K display at 60Hz. Supports variable refresh rates ranging from 1Hz to 240Hz. For external displays, up to 8K panels (30Hz) or 1080p high refresh rate panels (up to 240Hz) are supported.

The chip supports H.265 and AV1 video decoding (up to 4K/60fps) and HDR playback (HDR10+, Dolby Vision, HLG).

Several major smartphone manufacturers have already opted for the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 for some of their phones, including Honor, iQOO, Realme, and Xiaomi (we’ll even see Redmi equipped with the chip). They’ll release these phones “in the coming months,” but we have a feeling we won’t have to wait that long.

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