Snapdragon 800 Smartphone Roundup: What’s Out There, What’s Yet To Come

Despite what Motorola or Google might try to make you think, the spec war is still very much on in the smartphone world and cold, objective numbers will continue to be more important than subjective “user experience” for many.


Like it or not, Big G, Moto, but an extra two cores or a higher clock speed on a phone’s processor will boost sales numbers so much more than the possibility of combining a red front and purple back all while adding your own signature on a device’s body.

Likewise, regular Joes passionate about technology will always go for the handheld with the higher-res display, the more RAM or on-board storage, no matter if they actually need the extra memory or pixels. It’s just the way we’re built.

On that note, don’t be surprised if devices powered by any other processor than Qualcomm’s spectacular quad-core Snapdragon 800 will simply be ignored in a month or two. Everybody wants Snapdragon 800 power, from smartphone OEMs to simple tech aficionados, so let’s see exactly what awaits on the horizon.

Snapdragon 800 – why so serious?

Before actually rounding up the existent and soon to be unveiled gadgets running on Snapdragon 800, how about we see what the big deal is after all? Why is there so much buzz and hype surrounding this platform? Is it so much better than the others or is the excitement the result of a very crafty marketing campaign?


While Qualcomm’s ability to market the heck out of its CPUs is hard to dispute of late, I’d like to once again appeal to cold, objective numbers to prove a point. For instance, let’s take the latest AnTuTu benchmarks of phones like Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 LTE-A or Galaxy Note 3.

Sure, synthetic benchmarks can often be confusing and AnTuTu has proven to be especially unreliable recently, but it can’t be a coincidence that Snapdragon 800-powered devices are almost always scoring results 25, 30 or even 40% better than gadgets running on Snapdragon 600. And keep in mind, the 600 is no pushover itself, being the cream of the crop until not long ago.


At the same time, the 800 has proven to go surprisingly easy on battery life, all while being accompanied by an Adreno 330 GPU that’s superior in every way to Snapdragon 600’s Adreno 320. I rest my case.

What’s out there?

Given the CPU is official ever since early January, it’s a little disappointing to see it’s still virtually impossible to score one single phone packing Snapdragon 800 heat. Then again, we must remember Qualcomm warned us from the get-go that devices using the processor were only going to become official in H2 2013.

Without further ado, I give you the only two official Snapdragon 800 phones:

Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A

Exclusively available in Korea, this big guy is already up for grabs, but in many ways it’s not a representative of the next generation of top-notch phones, resembling the original Galaxy S4 way too much. Not that that’s such a bad thing. But we all want moar.


Sony Xperia Z Ultra

This monster is a whole different kettle of fish, but sadly it will only be up for sale starting next month. Aside from the five-star SoC, the Z Ultra also stands out with a ginormous 6.4-inch Full HD screen, an incredibly slim 6.5 mm profile, water and dust resistance and a whopping 3,050 mAh battery.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

In short, it’s the ultimate wet dream of tech fans that aren’t worried how silly they look when holding a 6.4-inch “phone” next to their ears.

What’s yet to come?

With Nvidia’s Tegra 4 too slow and pricey to gain a foothold, everybody wants a piece of the Snapdragon 800 pie. And I do mean everybody, from Samsung to Sony, from HTC to LG and from Lenovo to Xiaomi. Even Nokia.

It thus becomes Mission: Impossible 5 to catch the media’s attention, even though we have a number of OEMs that are doing a terrific job in boosting buzz. There’s LG, whose G2 is expected to make a formal debut tomorrow with a very unique design, 5.2-inch display, 2 or 3 GB of RAM and microSD support.


Then there’s Sony’s Honami, which will likely be a Z Ultra with a high-quality 20 MP rear camera (Nokia, beware) and a more compact 5-inch package. And how about Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, which doesn’t look that groundbreaking on paper (we’re sick of plastic, Sammy), but has the GNote and Note 2 heritage to sustain its great potential?


Meanwhile, HTC appears to be employing a slightly more cautious hype-building strategy for the One Max after letting way too many details slip in the eve of One Mini’s unveiling. Regardless, it’s not easy to overlook what appears to be a gigantic version of the tremendously successful One, with the same winning all-aluminum design.


But wait, we’re not done yet. There are also a few giants likely coming from the emerging Chinese players. You have the Lenovo K910 (or K6), a much welcomed rehash of the Intel-based K900, the extremely promising Xiaomi Mi-3 with 3 GB of RAM, plus the Oppo Find 7 that’s practically almost official with a crazy-sounding 8 MP front camera.

And don’t even get me started on Nokia’s highly anticipated upcoming phablet, which is probably the biggest threat Android has had to face outside of the iOS spectrum in ages. And that’s coming from a guy who can’t stand Windows Phone 8.

How about it, folks? Which of all these Snapdragon 800 big kahunas are you most excited about? I for one am still on the fence between the LG G2 and Sony Honami.

3 Replies to “Snapdragon 800 Smartphone Roundup: What’s Out There, What’s Yet To Come”

  1. The fan on the shield is required due to the form factor, as there is only about 4 in^2 available surface for a heat sink. Tablets have a much larger surface area, and so a fan shouldn’t be needed with a properly engineered heat sink. The new Asus transformer us slated to have the 1.9Ghz variant, and I doubt it will have a fan.

    Saying the T4 “lacks” opengl es3 is really misleading. The fact is that es 3 is an api specification which T4 almost fully supports. There are a few exceptions that prevent the T4 from claiming full compliance – like use of 24 bit color where es3 requires 32 bit, texture compression, and a few other bits. The practical result is that es3 apps on T4 should be nearly indistinguishable from those on fully compliant devices. However, I am not an expert, so if there is a practical side here, let me know.

  2. T4 is awesome and very powerful no doubt. However your shield has a fan inside it to help with thermal issues. I’ll bet you that any other version of the t4 without a fan wont be as insanely fast as you say. Also the lack of open gl 3.0 on the t4 makes no sense to me especially as a gaming device.

  3. “With Nvidia’s Tegra 4 too slow and pricey to gain a foothold” – uh, with Antutu at 41.5k and Geekbench of 4450 on my production Shield, the T4 hardly seems “too slow” since these beat the best scores I have seen on *any* s800 device by a wide margin.

    Yes the s800 will do well, but probably not because the T4 is “too slow”. Pricey? Maybe. But the T4 does have a foothold with numerous devices coming to market. We should be grateful there is a competitive alternative.

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