Qualcomm, known for its Snapdragon smartphone chips, has worked with many smartphone manufacturers to deliver high-end mobile devices for over a decade. Now, Qualcomm is ready to make its own smartphone. In partnership with ASUS, Qualcomm unveiled its first smartphone for members of the Snapdragon Insiders program — appropriately naming it “the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders.”
On paper, there’s a lot of positives about this new smartphone. It’s packed with pro-level video features that video shooters dream of having with their phones. However, it isn’t without its share of drawbacks.
The three best features
According to Qualcomm, the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders delivers a “professional-quality camera” user experience. After taking a look at the camera’s video specs, we’re inclined to believe them.
Qualcomm fitted its new smartphone with a Sony IMX686 64-megapixel image sensor and three rear camera lenses (a 64MP main lens, 12MP ultrawide camera and 8MP telephoto). The lenses can record up to 8K video at 30fps — a dream spec for mobile videographers. Also, the lens trio can manage 4K at 30 or 60fps. Considering this is Qualcomm’s first smartphone, delivering video resolutions at this level is an impressive feat and looks to be one of the phone’s main highlights.
Aside from pro-level video capturing capabilities, the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders looks like it could be a reliable gaming phone as well. It features a 6.78-inch, 2,448-by-1,080 Samsung AMOLED screen with a 144Hz screen refresh rate — an uncommon spec for smartphones. Qualcomm also touts the smartphone’s ability to stream gaming sessions at “lightning-fast speeds.” Qualcomm’s smartphone could offer a gaming experience that’s a step up from other mobile devices with the ability to stream and its unique screen.
The Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders features the new Snapdragon Sound classification. According to Qualcomm, the feature delivers playback at up to 24-bit 96kHz. One of the significant benefits of the feature is the ability to play audio at a high level without damaging your phone’s speakers. This will be one of the first smartphones to feature Snapdragon Sound classification, so it’ll be intriguing to see how it operates in practice.
The three worst features
Running for $1,499 at launch, the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders certainly isn’t the most expensive smartphone on the market. For instance, the Sony Xperia Pro is $2,500. However, when comparing the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders’ specs with the rest of the market, its $1,499 price tag doesn’t seem entirely justified. While 8K video shooting is a strong spec, other smartphones are capable of shooting 8K at a lower price (Samsung S20 Series and Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro). So, at its price for what it has to offer, it looks like it’s going to be a hard sell for some.
Despite just revealing its latest Snapdragon 888+ chipset, Qualcomm decided to include the Snapdragon 888 5G chipset in its debut smartphone. While the Snapdragon 888 5G isn’t a bad inclusion, it’s a little disappointing that the phone won’t be showing off the new chip. Since the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders appears to showcase Qualcomm’s technology, it would have been a good move to include the company’s latest Snapdragon chip.
While Qualcomm’s debut smartphone offers a few gems, the rest of the phone’s specs look pretty standard. It features 512GB of storage, 16GB of RAM and runs Android 11. Also, it features a 4,000 mAh battery — which is not the largest battery around, by any means. The phone does feature the company’s Quick Charge 5 standard, but it maxes out at 65W for charging. All in all, these features aren’t bad, but when you’re paying $1,499, it’d be better to see specs that offer a little more than the standard, like higher storage for 8K video.
Qualcomm is selling its debut phone directly to members of the Snapdragon Insider fan community. However, the phone will see a wider release this August. So, if you want the phone and aren’t a member of the Snapdragon Insider community, you will have a chance to get your hands on the phone next month.