After months of rumors about prolific chipset maker Qualcomm teaming up with Asus to develop a super-powerful gaming smartphone, the thing has finally been announced: meet the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders. Yep, that’s the name – pretty literal, but sure.
This is a showcase for everything Qualcomm. It has the company’s powerful Snapdragon 888 processor, a fingerprint sensor it designed, Snapdragon Sound for lossless Bluetooth audio, its own fast-charging battery tech and more. The phone was designed in collaboration with Asus, drawing on lots of that company’s hardware smarts.
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Despite being called a smartphone ‘for Snapdragon Insiders’ – i.e., for members of Qualcomm’s community of tech fans – anyone can buy the new phone, if they like its look – and can afford it. It’s going on sale from Asus’ website from August, in a few regions like the US and UK, and will cost $1,499 / £1,099 (roughly AU$2,020, though it won’t be going on sale in Australia).
Why the ludicrously high price? Well, if you buy the phone, you’re not getting it on its own – it comes in a box with some headphones (as a showcase for the Snapdragon Sound), a fast-charging block (so you can enjoy the Qualcomm Quick Charge powering) and a case. With all that in mind, though, it’s still far from a competitive price.
Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders specs
The Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders – we’re still struggling to believe that’s actually the name, even this far into the article – has a 6.78-inch display with a 2448 x 1080 resolution with a 144Hz refresh rate.
For photography there’s a 64MP main, 12MP ultra-wide and 8MP telephoto camera, the latter of which supports 3x optical zoom. Round the front, there’s a 24MP snapper for selfies. Qualcomm made a big deal of advertising its AI Zoom videography mode, which uses machine learning to zoom in on a particular part of a scene, to the right zoom distance, without you having to control it yourself.
The phone has a 4,000mAh battery, which is perhaps on the small side for a gaming phone. We don’t know the charging speed just yet, but while the phone comes with a 65W charger, there’s evidence to believe the actual powering isn’t this fast. Qualcomm stated the battery takes 30 minutes to power up to 70%, or 52 minutes to full, which suggests powering is more like 25W.
Now onto the important stuff (for gaming) – the phone has a Snapdragon 888 chipset. That was the top-end Android processor for most of 2021 so far, though the recently-launched Snapdragon 888 Plus is slightly better. There’s 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage on board.
The phone is set to run stock Android 11. Some interesting things to note about the design is that the handset has a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, which must make it the priciest phone to have one, and also has a small Snapdragon logo on the back which lights up – all gaming phones need colored LEDs, after all.
So the phone’s specs aren’t too different from your average gaming phone, and even lots of mid-range devices have comparable features and internals. We’ll have to see how it performs when using it, to judge whether it’s worth that meaty price tag or not – though we’re pretty skeptical.