Qualcomm did not have a great 2015 with the issues surrounding the 810, but it's looking to turn that around in 2016. The Snapdragon 820 might help, but the fancy high-end chips aren't everything. Qualcomm has announced several new mid-range ARM chips, as well as a new modem and a wearable-specific SoC.
The new ARM chips are in the 400 and 600 series—the Snapdragon 425, 435, and 625. All three have support for LTE carrier aggregation, quick charging, and 802.11ac WiFi. Here are the specifics for each one.
- Snapdragon 425: Quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU with adreno 308 GPU. Uses an X6 LTE modem. This is the new "entry point" for the 400 series. This chip will mostly be used in developing markets.
- Snapdragon 435: Octa-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU with Adreno 505 GPU. Has a more powerful X8 LTE modem. This is what you'll see in most mid-range devices in North America.
- Snapdragon 625: Octa-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU with Adreno 506 GPU. This chip moves to the 14nm process for improved efficiency and has an X9 LTE modem.
As for the new modem, that's the X16, which none of the above chips will support. This is a high-end component for flagship devices. It's potentially capable of gigabit-class LTE speeds with 4x20MHz carrier aggregation and 4x4 MIMO. It will support all major cellular technologies like LTE FDD, LTE TDD, WCDMA, TD-SCDMA, EV-DO, CDMA 1x, and GSM/EDGE. Samples are being made available to OEMs now and the first products with this modem will launch in the second half of the year.
Finally, there's the new wearable chip from Qualcomm. Most smart watches are running Snapdragons, but they're the same chips used in some low-end phones; the Snapdragon 400 usually. It was never designed for this application in particular, so OEMs disable three of its four cores. The Snapdragon Wear 2100 is designed from the ground up for wearable devices.
It will come in two forms, one with WiFi and Bluetooth only and another with LTE. It's 30% smaller than the Snapdragon 400 and uses 25% less power. That should make smart watches a little less clunky. The Snapdragon Wear 2100 is available to OEMs today, but there's no word on when it will be in consumer products.