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Why Qualcomm's next flagship chip isn't called the Snapdragon 898

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
(Image credit: Qualcomm)

The silicon brain that may be powering your next smartphone has just been unveiled, and unlike rumors had previously suggested it won't be called the Qualcomm Snapdragon 898.

This is a new chipset that we expect to see in upcoming top-end phones like the Samsung Galaxy S22, OnePlus 10, Xiaomi 12 and more. It'll be called the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, and you can read everything you need to know about it here.

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

But why has it been given a new name? The different naming structure may confuse people, especially as this isn't a first-gen product. In fact, Qualcomm has been making the chipsets powering some of the most popular phones since 2012.

We spoke to Qualcomm about the new name, and here's why the company decided to change it for 2021... and beyond.

First, how does this new name work? The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is the name of the new chipset, and future generations of lower-tier Qualcomm series will follow that convention – for example, the Snapdragon 4 Gen 1, or Snapdragon 7 Gen 1.

This change in naming structure will be used across all variants of the company's technology going forward from this release. It just so happens that it's introduced on the Snapdragon 8 series first.

It's still a sequel to the Snapdragon 888 Plus that was introduced earlier this year, and therefore it'll be the company's flagship product for 2022.

Ziad Asghar, VP of Product Management at Qualcomm, told TechRadar, “People know that 8 is basically the highest tier that we have. So we thought let’s simplify this – let’s call it the Snapdragon 8.

“This one will be called the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, and then as we go further we’ll call it Gen 2, Gen 3 and so on. I think it really simplifies it, and you don’t have to remember three numbers.”

Or, conceivably, four numbers, assuming they'd have to go higher after the Snapdragon 898.

Consumers prefer it, apparently

According to Qualcomm's research, the general public prefers this new naming structure by a ratio of 5 to 1. It may take some getting used to for phone fans, but the idea is that it'll make it easier for the average consumer to understand which silicon is running on their device.

Debra Marich, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Qualcomm, told TechRadar during a briefing for the new chipset, "We're strengthening our Snapdragon brand as a standalone product brand for consumers, and we'll be leveraging the equity we've built in the last Snapdragon brand for the past 10 years."

It isn’t just the overall name for the Snapdragon platforms that are changing. Asghar confirmed to TechRadar that the company is also changing the names of its other elements that make up the platform.

Asghar said, “Underneath, we used to have technologies like the Hexagon 780 processor. So we’ve taken away those [names] too, just such that they’re now associated with each generation of Snapdragon 8. It just makes it very simple.”

Expect to see this new naming structure across Qualcomm's products for the foreseeable future. We won’t be getting a Snapdragon 898, but this is the same chipset in all but name and we’ll be looking for a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 come the end of 2022.

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.