Aug 31 AT 11:07 AM Taylor Wimberly 17 Comments

Qualcomm explains the system of tiers for Snapdragon S4


Last year Qualcomm reorganized how it named its Snapdragon processors and divided them up into different series. Snapdragon S1 represented the first-gen chip found in the HTC Nexus One, then we had S2 and S3, followed by S4 that is currently featured in almost every 4G LTE phone in North America.

For awhile this made things simple as we could just reference the series of chip instead of having to call out the exact model number like MSM8960. When Android fans hear “Snapdragon S4″ they think of the super fast chip that is found in the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III, but there are actually four different tiers of S4 and they are not all created equal.

A perfect example is the Snapdragon S4 Play, featured in the new HTC Desire X. One could see the “S4″ and think they were getting Qualcomm’s latest 28nm Krait CPU and faster Adreno GPU, but this budget chip uses the older 45nm process technology and slower Cortex-A5 CPU and Adreno 203 GPU.

If our numbers are correct, there are currently 15 different Snapdragon S4 models and it can be difficult to keep up. Most smartphone buyers probably don’t care what processor is inside there phone, but if you are reading this blog then you are not average.

Qualcomm produced a quick video with Michelle Leyden Li, Senior Director of Marketing at Qualcomm, to help explain the different tiers. She breaks down the new Snapdragon system of tiers, from the entry-level space to the high-end lineup. Watch the clip and head over to the Qualcomm’s site to study up.

(tl;dr Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064 is the chip to get excited about this holiday)

  • Prime — Snapdragon S4 Prime processors will power the next wave of enhanced smart TV experiences – including leading audio/video capabilities, pure web browsing and more robust applications – delivering on Qualcomm’s commitment of keeping consumers continuously connected to their favorite devices, content and apps. Processors in the S4 Prime tier include the Snapdragon S4 Prime MPQ8064 processor, featuring a 1.5GHz quad-core CPU – based on Qualcomm’s Krait micro-architecture – Adreno 320 graphics and advanced audio/video capabilities, delivering mobile users the highest performing mobile experience while consuming less power.
  • Pro — Snapdragon S4 Pro processors feature the Adreno 320 GPU and support for higher resolution displays, as well as hardware and software compatibility with the S4 class. The Adreno 320 is a high performance programmable GPU, providing a superior user experience for Web browsing, games, user interfaces and other graphics applications. The Adreno 320 also infuses the S4 Pro version with new multimedia capabilities, including computational camera -the ability to tap directly into the computational capability of the Adreno 320 GPU through new APIs like OpenCL, to enable next-generation use cases such as light-field cameras for mobile devices. In support of next-generation 3D graphics APIs, Adreno 320 will enable more realistic 3D graphic effects through hardware acceleration of advanced rendering features like instancing, occlusion queries and multiple render targets. Adreno 320 also includes dedicated hardware to accelerate Windows and fully supports the top game engines in the industry from Unity, Epic and others. Processors in the S4 Pro tier include APQ8064 and MSM8960T (the Pro version of MSM8960).
  • Plus — Snapdragon S4 Plus processors bring outstanding application processing and leading-edge 3G and 4G internet connection speeds, allowing OEMs to introduce S4-based devices with next-generation mobile architecture throughout their respective device roadmaps – from basic smartphones to high-end smartphones and tablets. The enhanced S4 processors also are optimized for use with a suite of software solutions available from Qualcomm that help enable OEMs to deliver industry-leading feature sets for multimedia, connectivity, camera, display, security, power management, browsing and natural user interface design. Processors in the S4 Plus tier include MSM8960, APQ8060A, MSM8660A, MSM8260A, APQ8030, MSM8930, MSM8630, MSM8230, MSM8627 and MSM8227.
  • Play — Snapdragon S4 Play Processors are designed specifically for high-volume smartphones. Processors in the S4 Play tier include MSM8625 and MSM8225. Both chipsets provide dual-core CPUs operating up to 1.2 GHz, Qualcomm’s Adreno 203 GPU and an integrated 3G modem. The MSM8625 and MSM8225 chipsets are designed to be hardware and software compatible with the MSM7x27A and MSM7x25A family of chipsets, giving device manufacturers the ability to seamlessly migrate their existing Snapdragon S1-based designs to S4 dual core-based designs. This capability is particularly useful for device manufacturers to efficiently expand their smartphone product lines with more advanced and more capable 3G smartphone products.

Via: Qualcomm Snapdragon

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • clocinnorcal

    Would love a Prime in a handset!

    • Mix

      That would be sick for sure!

      What about in a tablet?
      ASUS Transformer now with Prime………..that would never go over well, lol.

    • Romney a$$hole

      Prime is already obsolete….qualcomm always too late to the game

      • Bpear96

        How is it obsolete, the Krait architecture is really something, and wont be able to be matched by competitors until they start using Cortex a15. The adreno 320 may be beat, by some other GPU but is still very powerful. Adreno 320 + 4 1.5GHz krait cores is not obsolete .

        • Bpear96

          And is pretty much the head of the market ATM, only close SoC is Samsungs Exynos quad, especially at 1.6ghz in note ii

  • jamal adam

    I agree with you, these articles are very informative and well written and made to be easily understood. This is one of the many reasons I love this site.

  • Ichigo

    I love Qualcomm!

  • Nathan D.

    Qualcomm is on a roll these days, I’m pretty sure they are making tons of money right now.

  • Yash Jethmalani

    7.1 surround sound = Mind Blown !!!!

    • clocinnorcal

      +1 to that sir!

  • Melad360

    is the only difference with the prime and the pro just audio and visual capabilities? would you really need that in a phone over the pro?

  • Alexander drzfr3shboialex

    Would love prime/pro in a Sony nexus.

  • John

    Thanks for the info. Be nice if the info was in table format.
    Yeah, I actually Evernote this stuff for later reference. Probably need some sort of 12-step tech rehab program…

    • Taylor Wimberly

      Wikipedia has some great tables of all the Snapdragon models.

  • jason

    thanks.. was really confused with this 203 thing..also check this link to compare all the GPUs on mobile phones

  • TheOddOne

    Lets go tsm!!!!