Qualcomm's Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders is a pure Android powerhouse bundled with $300 headphones
Qualcomm powers a huge number of smartphones in the Android space and having Snapdragon power in a phone is one of the top things customers look for in some markets.
Qualcomm is stepping up the game by launching its own phone. It’s a bit of fun, because Qualcomm recently created the Snapdragon Insiders community, with over a million fans signing up to be part of that team of Snapdragon fans.
And this phone is for them, designed by Qualcomm, built by Asus, and showing off some of Qualcomm’s core technologies.
It’s an Android phone, with no additions, no bloatware, so this might pique the interest of those who normally look to the Pixel as their handset of choice too.
From a design point of view there’s some similarity to the compact Asus Zenfone 8 that we saw earlier in 2021, but the Snapdragon phone is larger with a 6.78-inch Samsung AMOLED display. It’s a 144Hz display, flat, with a full HD resolution – which says to us that it’s primarily been designed to show off Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Elite Gaming skills.
That’s also underlined by the bezel top and bottom (containing the front camera), which is common on gaming phones.
There’s a Snapdragon 888 at the heart of this phone – with an illuminated Snapdragon fireball logo on the rear – along with 16GB RAM and 512GB storage – so this is a premium tier device.
Rather than offer different versions for different regions, there is only one version – and it covers all 5G bands and types globally. This is part of the message that Qualcomm is often pushing, so it makes sense to launch a global roaming 5G phone.
There’s a fingerprint sensor on the rear of the phone which is a little left field, while there’s a triple camera too, comprising main, ultrawide and telephoto.
It’s a 64-megapixel f/1.8 Sony IMX686 for main camera, meaning 8K video capture; the ultrawide is 12-megapixels, f/2.2, 14.3mm equivalent, supporting macro shooting; the telephoto is 8-megapixels with 3x optical. The front camera is 24-megapixels.
But Qualcomm is really keen for you to pay attention to the audio on this device, one of the first to support Snapdragon Sound. This will offer 24-bit 96kHz wireless audio to elevate that audio experience.
You might not be able to take advantage of that right now, but Qualcomm says that its expecting more wireless headphones to launch in 2021 support more advanced wireless standards so that you can.
But so that you have a great listening experience, the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders comes with a pair of custom Master & Dynamic MW08 true wireless headphones. These are the $300 headphones we mentioned and having reviewed them previously, they really are excellent.
The box also includes a 65W charger, a pair of braided USB-C cables and a bumper for the phone to protect it, so it’s quite the package.
If there’s one thing that raises a slight question mark for us it is the 4000mAh battery. Although this will charge really quickly with Quick Charge 5 support and that big charger in the box, many phones of this size have a higher capacity, so this is going to be something to watch when the reviews come out.
This isn’t just a Qualcomm reference device, as Asus has built it and will handle the distribution and sales of the phone.
As you can guess from the specs, it’s a premium device, so the $1499 / £1099 / €1299 price shouldn’t come as a surprise. It will be available from August 2021 starting in the US, China, Germany, UK, Japan and Korea, followed by India, through the Asus online store and other retailers.