Qualcomm and ASUS making a smartphone together for “Snapdragon Insiders”

Chris Burns - Jul 8, 2021, 11:22am CDT
Qualcomm and ASUS making a smartphone together for “Snapdragon Insiders”

Smart device processor manufacturer Qualcomm and hardware brand ASUS revealed a new smartphone this week called EXP21. The device appears to be a relatively top-tier machine with all the best bits of the processor Qualcomm will put inside it. The proposition is that they’re making a “Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders – Designed by ASUS.” Qualcomm has a sign up page ready to roll for a device that is “coming soon”, and they’ve made it clear that “Snapdragon Insiders will be the first to be notified.”

One would hope that the device we’re seeing is the final design of the phone, but this isn’t often the situation when it comes to smartphone illustrations we see posted by Qualcomm. This might be a different situation, however, as ASUS is onboard for this ride AND the company has a set of specifications posted. It’s the fine print where Qualcomm says “all images are illustrative” that has us double-guessing here.

UPDATE: Take a peek at imagery below to see photography of the smartphone and earbuds. It would appear that the note about “all images are illustrative” only really applied to the 3D renderings of the machine – which did, here, end up being pretty spot on, anyway!

According to Qualcomm, the smartphone will have a 6.78-inch Samsung AMOLED display with 2448 x 1080 pixel resolution with a 144Hz image refresh rate. This display will support Always-On tech, 10-point multitouch, HDR10 and HDR10+, and 111.23% DCI-P3, 106.87% NTSC, 150.89% sRGB color gamut coverage. The display will support 800 nits “outdoor-readable brightness” (with 1200 nits peak brightness).

This device’s back-facing camera array includes an 8MP telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom, a Sony flagship IMX363 12 MP dual pixel image sensor (with up to 4cm super-close Macro photos), and another Sony sensor for its main camera. The main camera uses a Sony flagship IMX686 64 MP 1/1.73-inch image sensor with f/1.8 aperture, 2×1 On-chip-lens phase detection autofocus, and 4-axis optical image stabilization.

Up front is a 24MP camera and a dual stereo speaker system with Smart AMP (WDA8835). Inside, this smartphone will feature Android 11 right out the gate. Courtesy of Qualcomm’s surprisingly detailed specifications sheet, we can see what sort of speakers the phone uses – a AAC SLS0916A-04 Front Firing Speaker and an AAC 1216SLS Side Firing Speaker.

That’s part of the draw, here – the idea that Qualcomm would work with ASUS to create a smartphone that’s as open and detail-oriented as possible so as to focus as clearly as possible on the powers enabled by Qualcomm’s processor technology.

Qualcomm tech inside the EXP21:
• Qualcomm Quick Charge 5.0 charging
• Qualcomm 3D Sonic Sensor Gen 2 fingerprint sensor
• Snapdragon 888 5G Mobile Platform
• Qualcomm AI Engine (6th-gen, 26 TOPS AI performance)
• Qualcomm Adreno 660 GPU
• Qualcomm Spectra 580 ISP (image processing)
• Qualcomm aptX Adaptive sound
• Qualcomm Snapdragon Sound
• Qualcomm Game Quick Touch
• Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite Gaming

The package you’ll buy from Qualcomm includes a pair of Qualcomm Snapdragon Premium Earbuds, Quick Charge 5 65W charger, a “custom rubber bumper”, and “enhanced” braided cables for power and data connections.

At the moment it’s not clear how much this smartphone package will cost, and a release date has not yet been revealed by Qualcomm or ASUS. Qualcomm has a Qualcomm Snapdragon Insiders page where users can sign up for future updates, and we’ll be reporting on any updates to the program and/or the device as we get closer to launch.


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