One of its new processors, the 730G, is designed specifically to supercharge mobile gaming.

Qualcomm

Less expensive phones are about to get more premium features.

Qualcomm on Tuesday unveiled its Snapdragon 730, 730G and 665 chips. They’re aimed at high-end and midrange phones — though not ultra-premium flagship devices like Samsung’s Galaxy S10 lineup. The chips mean that people who won’t or can’t spend $1,000 for a new phone will be able to access some of those coveted high-end experiences on a more affordable device.

“We are bringing features such as sophisticated AI, exceptional gaming and advanced camera capabilities to a broad spectrum of devices at exceptional performance,”  Kedar Kondap, Qualcomm vice president of product management, said in a statement.

The aim of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 6 and 7 lines has been to expand premium features to less expensive handsets, particularly in places like China. Most people cannot afford to shell out big money for a new phone, but essentially everyone wants a powerful camera in a phone, as well as advanced AI and other capabilities.

As CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt has described, Snapdragon 7 series chips power devices that could be considered “premium light.” while the Snapdragon 6 series is aimed at midrange devices. The new processors won’t be in the upcoming Galaxy Note 10, for example, but instead could appear in slightly less pricey devices from companies such as Motorola, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi. The new $300 Moto G7, for instance, uses the Snapdragon 632, which was unveiled last summer.

Qualcomm said the new chips will be in phones in mid-2019.

Snapdragon 730

The Snapdragon 730 features technology that was previously exclusive to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 series processors, the chips that power devices like the Galaxy S10.

That includes advanced artificial intelligence processing on the 730 that’s twice as powerful as the chip’s predecessor, the Snapdragon 710. Qualcomm’s fourth-gen, multi-core AI Engine speeds up on-device smarts for cameras, gaming, voice and security.

“A lot of consumers don’t even realize they’re using AI,” Kondap said in a press briefing ahead of Qualcomm’s announcement. “I don’t think they really should have to understand that.”

The chip will enable voice assistants to support multiple keywords and will improve voice recognition accuracy. The phone’s digital assistant will be able to pick up your voice from farther away, even in busy environments.

The Snapdragon 730 also features Qualcomm’s Spectra 350, with a dedicated computer vision image signal processor that makes a phone up to four times more power efficient in computer vision. That will let you capture 4K HDR videos in portrait mode (also known as bokeh) where the subject is in focus while the background is blurred.

The computer vision ISP is capable of high-resolution depth sensing and can support triple cameras for ultra-wide, portrait and telephoto lenses. It also captures photos and videos in the HEIF format that’s half the file size of JPEGs, letting you store more images in less space.

Snapdragon 730G for gamers

Qualcomm also has designed a mobile processor targeted at smartphone gaming. The Snapdragon 730G has up to 15% faster graphics rendering over the Snapdragon 730, and Qualcomm’s in-house game studio has worked with game makers to optimize the processor for some of the world’s most popular titles.

The 730G has a “Jank Reduce” feature to reduce stutters by up to 90% in games running at 30fps, and its anti-cheating extensions “help keep gamers on the same level playing field.” It also features technology to help deal with Wi-Fi latency and supports HDR gaming.

The aim of the 730G is to let consumers know the device they’re buying is tailored for mobile gaming.

“Consumers are focused on gaming,” Kondap said. “If I go into the market, I want to know what is the best gaming device I can buy.”

Snapdragon 665

The Snapdragon 665 is aimed at even less expensive devices than the ones that use 7 series chips. The 665 chip supports Qualcomm’s third-gen AI engine, which provides up to twice as fast on-device processing compared with an older Snapdragon 660.

The Spectra 165 image signal processor on the chip is “reinforced with AI,” which will let the phone’s camera automatically recognize what scene setting is needed and make automatic adjustments like turning on HDR. Some other camera features supported in the chip include the ability to snap photos at up to 48 megapixels as well as optical zoom and triple cameras for ultra-wide, wide and telephoto.

The Snapdragon 665, like the Snapdragon 730, will also make features like 3D face unlock possible.

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