Now when I first heard about the announcement of the Snapdragon 4 Gen 1, I was just like meh…😕. Another low budget entry again. What’s there to be excited about?
The Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 is technically supposed to be a low end SoC from Qualcomm. It is meant to be a replacement for the very popular Snapdragon 680 which is starting to age now. The 4 Gen 1 aims to occupy a spot in the lower midrange segment and has already made its debut on the Redmi Note 12.
Using this logic, I was not very impressed. I mean there’s the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, Snapdragon 8 Gen 1+ and now the excellent Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. There’s also the very good looking Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 as well as 6 Gen 1. Now in my mind, these ones were the real SoCs, not the 4 Gen 1. Boy…was I wrong.
So when an ardent reader of the blog recently queried me as to why the list of top 100 smartphone SoCs wasn’t updated, I decided to visit AnTuTu, Geekbench, Notebook check etc. to update it.
That was when I decided to look into the Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 and my eyes became open. The biblical scales fell off 😳
Now Qualcomm uses this system to grade their SoCs.
- Snapdragon 200 series (extinct)
- Snapdragon 400 series
- Snapdragon 600 series
- Snapdragon 700 series
- Snapdragon 800 series
I mean if Qualcomm Snapdragon are setting up the 4 Gen 1 as a low end SoC, then the ARMv9 generation is going to be lit!
Snapdragon 4 Gen 1
So let’s look at the Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 quickly.
- Big cores: 2 ARM Cortex A78 (2GHz)
- Small cores: ARM Cortex A55 (1.8GHz)
- GPU: Adreno 619
- Core count: Octa core
- Fab process: TSMC 6nm
- Architecture: ARMv8
- RAM: LPDDR4x (2133MHz)
- Storage: UFS 2.2
- ISP: Spectra
- AI: Hexagon DSP
- Camera: 108MP
- Video: up to 1080p resolution
- Modem: Snapdragon X51
- Bluetooth: 5.3
- WiFi: version 6
The first thing that caught my eye was that ARM Cortex A78 big cores on the Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 and it blew my mind. Upper Midrangers like the 720G and 732G use a Cortex A76 for reference. The performance gap between the A78 and A76 is wide!
The SD732G with the Cortex A76 CPUs (2.3GHz) is clocked much faster than the the SD 4 Gen 1 with the Cortex A78 (2.0GHz). Yet the slower SD 4 Gen 1 does this on
- Snapdragon 732G – 564
- Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 – 618
- Snapdragon 732G – 1770
- Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 – 1851
And this on
- Snapdragon 732G – 347540
- Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 – 383434
What this means is that the ordinary Redmi Note 12 will be far better than all the Redmi Note pro variants. RN11 pro, RN11S, RN10 Pro, RN10S, RN10 5G, RN9 Pro, RN9S, RN8 Pro and RN7 Pro. This would be a huge first.
The vanilla Redmi phones have always used lower midrange SoCs. The Redmi Note 7 used the SD660, the Redmi Note 8 used the SD665, the Redmi Note 9 used a Helio G85, the Redmi Note 10 used a SD678 and the Redmi Note 11 used the SD680. The Redmi Note 12 will now use the SD4 Gen 1.
Now despite what’s being advertised, the Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 is anything but lower midrange. Unless of course, the standard for being lower midrange has changed. If that’s the case, then we’re all using lower midrangers now. 😂😂😂😂
Everyone using phones with upper midrange SoCs like Helio G99, G96, G95, G90T and G90; Snapdragon 765, 732, 720, 730G; Dimensity 800u, 800, 720, 700 and even a flagship like the Apple A11 Bionic on the iPhone 8 and X…they’re all lower midrangers now.
We are in the midst of another revolution it seems. The Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 is only one of the signs of things to come.
The Adreno 619 is rather underwhelming when matched with the CPU cores and seems to be the first corner cut on this SoC.
The GPUs on the SD4 Gen 1 also do not quite meet up. It’s either the Adreno 619 on the SD4 Gen 1 was downclocked or the SD618 is just better overall.
I’m saying this because the SD732G with Adreno 618 is performing slightly better on GPU tests when compared to the 619 on the SD4 Gen 1. Even on AnTuTu, the 732G’s GPU performed slightly better
Now I do not think that this should hinder the SD4 Gen 1 much because the Cortex A78 CPUs has the computational power to cover for the lapses of the 619. But just keep that in mind tho.
This SoC uses a standard LPDDR4x RAM clocked at 2133MHz and supports up to UFS 2.2. Decent midrange specs.
The SoC also comes equipped with an unnamed Spectra ISP and Hexagon DSP to handle both photography and videography.
It supports camera resolution of up to 108MP and video resolutions of up to 1080p. It records videos of 1080p@60fps and plays them back at that same resolution.
To compare, the 732G supports up to 192MP cameras and records videos of up to 4K at 30fps and plays 4K video at 60fps.
It can drive display resolutions of 2520×1080p.
The SD4 Gen 1 uses a TSMC 6nm. This is one of the most effective fabrication nodes in existence today. Every SD680 user that I know is singing it’s praises. Everyone.
So the SD4 Gen 1 will manage battery very very well with minimal heating. This minimal heating will allow it to maintain peak performance for a long time, allowing you to do more on your phone. It should also mitigate thermal throttling and keep it to a minimum.
The SD4 Gen 1 boasts a very impressive Snapdragon X51 modem. This modem supports midband and Sub-6GHz 5G networks. It also supports Cat. 18 4G LTE. This modem has upload speeds of 210Mbps and download speeds of 800Mbps.
There’s also additional support for the latest Bluetooth 5.2 and WiFi 6.
The SD 4 Gen 1 retains most specs that you’ll find on most lower midrangers but takes the CPU performance to a whole new level.
So in summary. The Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 has excellent:
- CPU performance
- Network connectivity
- Battery management
And has lower midrange Multimedia ability.
So if you look at it from the performance angle alone, it’s flagship killer. However if you look at it all round, it’s just okay.
Most current upper-midrangers will perform better in multimedia tasks but cannot touch it in performance, battery or connectivity.
As for the possible prices, the Indian variant of the Redmi Note 12 sells for 17,999 INR or 102k Naira.
If this is the price that Xiaomi chooses sell here then it’s a steal. I’ll encourage anyone looking for a phone to buy it before the Naira crashes further.