Snapdragon 678 promises affordable Android phones a camera upgrade

Qualcomm may only have just revealed its 2021 flagship chipset for Android phones, but the Snapdragon 888 is getting a low to midrange counterpart in the shape of the Snapdragon 678. Slotting into the company's line-up of relatively affordable chipsets for equally affordable smartphones, the new SoC borrows some of the AI-powered camera features from its more expensive sibling.

Successor to the Snapdragon 675, the Snapdragon 678 combines a Kryo 460 CPU – running at up to 2.2 GHz – with a faster Adreno 612 GPU. There's also a Hexagon 685 processor, the Spectra 250L image signal processor, and up to 8GB of memory.

The result, Quacomm says, is a surprising degree of performance from a cheaper handset. There's support for triple camera still photos at up to 48-megapixels, along with 4K video capture limited only by the amount of storage your phone offers. There's also support for slo-mo recording, 5x optical zoom, and portrait mode, with dual-camera support up to 16-megapixels, while phones built on the new SoC will be able to support hardware like laser autofocus.

As for gaming, Qualcomm says it has optimized the Snapdragon 678 for Unity, Messiah, NeoX, and Unreal Engine 4. While there won't be as much raw grunt on tap as in its 700 and 800 Series chipsets, you should still be able to do some proper mobile gaming nonetheless.

Up to FHD+ 60Hz displays are supported, and there's DisplayPort over USB Type-C support for driving external monitors. Devices can also use far-field microphones, aptX Classic and HD for audio playback, and Qualcomm's Aqstic audio codec.

What you don't get, though, is 5G. While Qualcomm has been gung-ho about pushing fifth-generation networks, the Snapdragon 678 misses out on the technology. Instead, it uses the Snapdragon X12 LTE Modem, with support for up to 600 Mbps LTE downloads and up to 150 Mbps uploads, carrier-depending. There's also Dual SIM Dual VoLTE support.

Elsewhere in connectivity, there's WiFi 802ac 1x1 MU-MIMO with trio-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Bluetooth 5.0 is also supported, along with all the usual location services. Phones built on the Snapdragon 678 will also be able to tap Quick Charge 4+ rapid charging, if manufacturers so desire.

We're likely to see the first smartphones using the new Snapdragon 678 arrive sometime in 2021, though as always those timescales are down to manufacturers, not Qualcomm itself.