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Exclusive: Qualcomm may make Snapdragon Editions of other brand's gadgets

Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders
The Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders that debuted in July 2021 (Image credit: Qualcomm)

Qualcomm makes the platforms that power some of the world’s best consumer tech, but it may one day partner with other brands to make Snapdragon Editions of already existing gadgets.

Flights and accommodation for this launch event were funded by Qualcomm, but the views reflect the writer's own independent opinion.

Don McGuire, Chief Marketing Officer at Qualcomm, spoke to TechRadar about the potential plans for Snapdragon Editions that could one day be introduced to the company's product lineup.

Speaking about 2021's Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders, McGuire confirmed the company is still taking stock on how it did. It's currently undecided if it'll press ahead with a second-gen product.

McGuire said, "Our intention has never been to get into the phone business and compete with our customers. We're not Microsoft. 

"It's more about can we leverage, can we get feedback and is there an affinity for it? What kind of things can we learn? And, then where would we go from there?

"We've got different scenarios, like do we want to do Snapdragon Editions? Do we want to partner with our partners on wearables and other places and do a Snapdragon Edition of their products."

Different scenarios

It’s clear this is an early concept for the company, but it may mean we see products that already use Qualcomm's technology packaged up in special editions with the Snapdragon brand attached.

McGuire's example was around wearables, but it was clear Qualcomm is considering this strategy in its other existing verticals too. That may mean we see smartphones with Snapdragon Edition branding in the future.

On the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders, McGuire explained it was never intended to be a project that would sell a lot of devices. 

He said, "It was a grand experiment. It was less about seeing if we could sell a Snapdragon branded phone and more about testing the affinity for the brand and getting feedback on certain features and experiences. 

It was never meant to sell a bunch of phones.

Don McGuire, Qualcomm CMO

"We were seeing if we could leverage our [Snapdragon] Insiders base to give us more proactive input into the product development process through a device like this. 

"What it turned into was always an open question. We're like, let's just do it, put it out there and see what happens and see what kind of feedback we get.

"We're looking at all these different outlets. It's all about enhancing the brand. But it was never meant to sell a bunch of phones. Because, it was super expensive... right?"

The handset was made in collaboration with Asus, and for anyone wanting to buy it there was the prohibitively high launch price of $1,499 / £1,099 (roughly AU$2,020) to stomach.

McGuire also confirmed that the project also landed later than Qualcomm had originally planned with delays impacting the release of the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders.

The device was revealed in July 2021, and it went on sale around a month later. It used the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 platform even though the improved Snapdragon 888 Plus SoC had been revealed a few weeks before the handset made its debut. 

McGuire was clear that no decisions have been made about where the company will go next with its Snapdragon Insider or Snapdragon Edition products. 

He said, "Once we get all the feedback in, then we're gonna sit down - probably by the first quarter of next year - and say, here's what we learned and where do we want to go next?"

Will that mean more Snapdragon branded gadgets? Only time will tell, but it's an interesting route for a brand that has always been focussed on making the technology that powers other brand's devices.

James Peckham
James Peckham

James is Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He's currently most excited about the Samsung Galaxy S22, God of War: Ragnarok and the rumored foldable iPhone.